Amidst fears of possible violence during today’s governorship election in Ondo State, the State Security Service (SSS) and other security agencies have identified 27 flashpoints.
A top source at the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), who was privy to the report of the security agencies on the election, told Tribune Online on early on Friday that the “danger spots” had been identified and would be properly manned and monitored today.
Assessing the preparations of security agencies ahead of the election against the backdrop of threats of violence, the INEC source said the commission was as worried as the electorate.
He disclosed that as of Wednesday, men of the SSS had identified 27 flashpoints where violence could be instigated in the state. He, however, refused to name the areas in order not to undermine the security measures already put in place in those areas.
On the part of the commission, he revealed that meetings had been held with critical stakeholders, while the candidates of the 17 political parties participating in the election had since signed a peace accord at the instance of the National Peace Committee led by former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar.
“We have had fruitful discussions with men of the DSS who have identified 27 flashpoints in Ondo State.
“We have intelligence at our disposal. We do our risk assessment. Nothing will be taken for granted. We hope the election will be free and fair and we hope it will be peaceful,” he said.
He commended officers and men of the Nigeria Police Force and expressed confidence that the apprehension over likely violence would turn out to be an anticlimax like it happened in Edo State where the election held last month and was generally adjudged as free, fair and peaceful.
“I must say that the conduct and performance of our policemen have been encouraging. They were on the ground at the Central Bank of Nigeria in Akure to move sensitive materials, even before we were ready.
I must say that they have behaved professionally,” the INEC chief said.
For today’s election scheduled to hold in 3,009 polling units and 203 electoral wards spread across 18 local government areas in the three senatorial districts, the source noted that “INEC’s greatest challenge is getting to the riverine areas.”
He, however, maintained that the commission had been proactive to move ahead of time both sensitive and non-sensitive materials to the riverine areas which seem inaccessible.
The INEC top shot dismissed as unhelpful speculation, claim by the Oyo State governor and chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) National Campaign Council, Mr Seyi Makinde, that the vice chancellor of the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Professor Eyitope Ogunbodede, had been appointed the Returning Officer for the Ondo State governorship election.
Professor Ogunbodede is a citizen of Ondo State from Owo Local Government Area as the incumbent governor and All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate in today’s election, Rotimi Akeredolu.
The source said there was no iota of truth in the claim.
“There is no way we would pick a Returning Officer who is from Ondo State. I won’t tell you where we will pick from but certainly not from Ondo State where the election is to be conducted,” he said.