The deployment of 35,000 policemen to Kogi State for the November 16 governorship election in the state was on Wednesday, approved by the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu.
This was made known in Lokoja by the Assistant Commissioner of Police (Kogi Command) in-charge of Operations, Oluwakayode Ayilara, who said that all measures had been put in place towards the attainment of a free, fair and credible election in Kogi.
According to him, the deployment of the policemen would ensure “visibility policing ” of lives and property before and during the November 16 governorship poll.
Speaking at an event tagged: “Stakeholders Conflict Scan Analysis on Electoral Violence in Kogi State,” organised by a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), Search for Common Ground, Ayilara noted that the choice of ensuring a violence-free election was for all to make.
He doused the fears about the militarisation of the governorship election, saying that the presence of soldiers at polling units was not envisaged during the exercise.
He, however, expressed worries over incidence of violence, particularly in the Kogi East Senatorial District.
He said in addition to the four policemen to be posted to each of the polling units on election day, four personnel per unit from other security agencies would also be on ground, adding that the deployed policemen would arrive in the state on November 11 from Abuja and other states.
Ayilara said that armed policemen would also be positioned at identified strategic areas in the state to ensure quick response to any emergency.
He said that four policemen will be deployed to each of the 2,548 polling units in the state, assuring citizens of police neutrality in their conduct before and during the election.
His words: “This election is a special one, being that it will hold in two states (Kogi and Bayelsa), and the IG has graciously deployed 36,000 police officers for the Kogi election.
“I can assure you that the police are not only ready for the exercise, the election is not going to be militarised, I can assure you. Soldiers will only be at border points, and can only come in when they are invited.”
“In the last couple of days, reports of culpable homicide have been reported in Dekina. Just yesterday here, two thugs were after each other, and one shot the other, houses were burnt.
“On our part, the police will continue to do its work because that is what we are employed for. But it is important to note that we are all stakeholders in this project.”
An official of the NGO, Mrs. Lola Memedu, had earlier in a presentation expressed worry over the steady rise in tension in the state ahead of the election.
Memedu said that the group through its Electoral Empowerment of Civil Society Project (EECSP) had observed cases of violence and physical attacks between stalwarts of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).