DIG Anthony Ogbizi, in charge of elections in the Southeast zone, has attributed the deployment of three Commissioners of Police (CPs) to Ebonyi ahead of the March 9 polls to the tense political atmosphere in the state.
Ogbizi told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Abakaliki, after a meeting with heads of security agencies, political party leaders and other stakeholders, that the political atmosphere in Ebonyi was of concern.
He said that representatives of the two dominant political parties – Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressive Congress (APC) – had traded serious accusations at the meeting, which were capable of heightening political tension in the state .
“The magnitude of such accusations is not healthy and we need to keep the peace in the state to ensure that the electorate come out to vote.
“We assure the people that the police is apolitical and will provide adequate security for them to vote without fear of intimidation or attack,” Ogbizi said.
The DIG added that the heavy presence of the police in the state was to deter thugs with any intentions to commit infractions on election day.
He, therefore, advised political parties to shelve any plans to instigate violence in the state and ensure peaceful elections.
“We urge the political party leaders and stakeholders to enlighten their supporters and the public to come out en masse and vote as we assure them of adequate security.
“The security agencies face lots of difficulties during elections as people bring all sorts of lists of suspected criminals which eventually have political undertones.
“Call the numbers we would give you in case of security threats or breaches instead of concluding that police is not doing its work despite all assurances it gives the public,” Ogbizi said.
He said that the three commissioners of police would be in charge of each of the three senatorial zones while another one would supervise affairs at the state level.
Also, the Assistant Commissioner of Police (AIG) in charge of zone 6, Mr Musa Kimo, said that all stakeholders involved in the election should collaborate and ensure that election in the area were peaceful.
Kimo, a former commissioner of police in Ebonyi, said that although there might be “bad eggs“ among security agents and other stakeholders, genuine collaboration among the “good eggs” would help overcome their activities.
“We will not fold our arms and allow such persons to truncate our efforts of ensuring peaceful polls.
“We will deal decisively with them in a professional manner,” he said.
Speaking earlier, Mr Onyekachi Nwebonyi, PDP Chairman in the state, had said that the party was a law abiding association and so he would testify against any party member caught fomenting trouble during the elections.
Nwebonyi alleged that the party had evidence of plans by some APC leaders to foment trouble in some polling units in order for elections to be canceled in such places.
Responding, Chief Eze Nwachukwu, APC Chairman in Ebonyi, said that the party had lost faith in the state commissioner of police, who he accused of compromising on his pledge to be fair to all political parties.
“The CP treated all reports of attacks and intimidation we made against the PDP with levity and this erodes confidence in the police’s ability to ensure credible polls in the state,” he said.
NAN reports that relevant stakeholders in the state made contributions on ways of encouraging the electorate to come out to vote massively and refrain from apathy.