•Police deploy 30,000 men amid tension
•As LASIEC dumps Sheriff’s men
By WILLY EYA, CHIOMA IGBOKWE, REMI ADEFULU, PERPETUA EGESIMBA and HENRY OKONKWO
Lagos State, the Centre of Excellence will today shut down as registered voters file out to vote for their chairmanship and councillorship candidates across the 20 local councils and 37 council development areas.
The poll today will be a straight fight between supporters of APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and a coalition of opposition candidates. With enormous resources at the disposal of the former, there are indications that today’s poll is a fight to finish opposition parties and entrench Tinubu’s dynasty.
Amid tension of the election, security has already been tightened even as movement in and out of the nation’s economic nerve centre has been restricted from 7 am to 3pm.
Saturday Sun yesterday observed the heavy presence of the police and other security agencies in strategic locations across the state. The exercise being conducted by the Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission (LASIEC) will hold in the 377 wards spread across 20 local governments and 37 local council development areas.
Twelve political parties were cleared by the state electoral commission, LASIEC, which validated 1,300 candidates to contest the Chairmanship and Councillorship positions in the state.
LASIEC has however substituted names of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidates loyal to ousted National Chairman of the party, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff with those loyal to Senator Ahmed Makarfi, the Caretaker Committee chairman for today’s exercise.
The Chairman of LASIEC, Justice Ayotunde Phillips told newsmen yesterday that the decision was in keeping with the Supreme Court judgement won by Senator Makarfi’s camp. Prior to the election, the Lagos PDP led by its sacked chairman, Mr. Segun Adewale had substituted names of Makarfi’s men following their victory at the Court of Appeal.
Phillips described the election as competitive as a wide range of political parties and candidates are participating in the poll.
She promised that LASIEC will provide a level playing ground for all parties and candidates, informing that accreditation and voting will take place simultaneously between 8.00 and 3.00pm. On his part, the State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Fatai Owoseni promised to use the full weight of the police to deal with trouble makers.
According to him, 30,000 policemen and other security agencies will closely monitor the election across the state. The police boss therefore advised parents and guardians to warn their wards against acts that may resort to violence. Specifically, he asked those in possession of weapons to surrender them as the police was battle ready for eventualities.
Meanwhile, the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) has advised Lagosians to stay peaceful and calm while performing their civic responsibility during the election.
In a statement yesterday by Adebayo Kehinde of the Public Affairs unit of LASEMA, the General Manager of the agency, Mr Adesina Tiamiyu said that all security operatives and emergency responders have been placed on “Red Alert” to respond to all forms of distress calls on emergencies in the state during the exercise.
While admonishing residents to obey laid down rules and regulations during the election, he stated that the emergency toll-free number 767/112 is open for any distress call as may be required from all nook and crannies of the State.
The General Manager further stated that the restriction of movement will not affect workers such as the LASEMA Response Unit, (LRU), Lagos State Ambulance Service (LASAMBUS), Lagos State Fire Service among other essential services that may be needed by Lagosians during this exercise.
In the same vein, the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) has urged LASIEC to make sure it conducts a free and fair election.
In a press statement jointly signed by the National President of the OPC (Reformed), Dare Adesope and Rasaq Arogundade, the organisation advised members of the public and it’s members to shun any act that will disrupt the successful conduct of the election.
The organisation said: “We are as well urging the electorate to come out enmasse to cast their votes without fear of molestation from anybody as OPC will be on ground fully to support the Police and other law enforcement agents to ensure that we have a very peaceful election.” Security has also been beefed up around LASIEC headquarters in Yaba ahead of today’s council polls, as scores of security personnel were stationed around the office yesterday.
At the junction of Birrel Road, which leads to the office, heavily armed men of the force stood by an Armoured Personnel Carrier that was stationed there. No fewer than 12 heavily armed policemen were also seen beside a patrol van with the inscription, “Anti-Terrorism Squad” by the entrance of the LASIEC office,
Some security personnel were seen preventing people who had no business in the office from entering the premises, while several other policemen were within the premises. The Lagos State Police Commissioner, Mr Fatai Owoseni, who also visited the LASIEC office on Friday, told newsmen that the police had put in place all measures to guarantee a hitch free election.
Owoseni warned politicians against inciting people to violence and also appealed to parents to counsel against trouble during the poll.
He also restated that there was no provision in the Electoral Act for VIPs or any other unauthorised persons to move about on monitoring during the time of election. The police commissioner also warned police officers attached to VIPs against exhibiting overzealous acts during the election. He said the force would not be kind to any officer found conducting himself in manner that could undermine the peaceful conduct of the election.
The commissioner said a security appraisal of all the areas of the state, especially flashpoints, had been carried out for effective security. He said the Marine units of the force had been reinforced to provide security on the waterways during the election.
Owoseni however said there would be a few inconveniences hours before the election and urged residents to show understanding.
Meanwhile, tragedy hit the camp of the Lagos State Chapter of the APC yesterday following the sudden of death of one of the candidates in today’s council polls.
Their contestant, Hon. Sikiru Balogun popularly known as Sab by his supporters, was said to have died in a ghastly motor accident involving his vehicle a Honda jeep and an articulated vehicle. Although details surrounding the tragic incident were sketchy as at press time, Saturday Sun gathered that he was crushed by the trailer.
Hon. Balogun was said to be warming up to fly the flag of the APC, and vie for a counsellorship seat in Igando-Ikotun LCDA. Since the sad incident, his supporters have been in tears and expressing shock and condolences on social media platforms.