The Department of State Security (DSS) has told politicians in the leading political parties that they were under the department’s security radar ahead of the November 16 governorship election in Bayelsa State.
DSS said it was particularly watching the politicians to know their involvement in any attempt to recruit thugs and move arms into the state to cause violence at the poll.
Speaking in a seminar organised by the Nigeria Police for political party chairmen and other stakeholders, the state Director of the DSS, Ishaku Yusuf, said persons under watch were politicians marked for having the capacity to instigate violence during elections.
The stakeholders’ seminar was spearheaded by the Assistant Inspector-General of Police (AIG), Zone 5, D.P.Yakadi.
Yusuf said: “On the issue of identification of those intending to perpetrate violent crimes during the elections, that is being done. Those who have the capacity have been put under security watch and homes under surveillance.”.
He, however, lamented that poor attendance of party chairmen and representatives showed their lack of readiness for the poll.
“Another source of worry I have for the coming Bayelsa election is the fact that we have 45 political parties listed for the election but 10 is in attendance here. It shows the security agencies are readier than the owners of the elections”, he said.
In his lecture, Yakadi, identified various factors that could cause electoral violence and advised critical stakeholders including the media, political parties and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to step up preparations and work against corrupt tendencies before, during and after the elections.
Yakadi assured the stakeholders of the preparedness of the zone under his watch to ensure a hitch-free poll.
He said: “Unemployment and poverty are some of the key factors that are responsible for election violence in Nigeria. Another factor is get-rich syndrome, loss of societal values compared to what was attainable in olden days. Another factor is proliferation of firearms, easy access and consumption of illicit drugs.
“We are here today to discuss with you how we can have free, fair and credible election on the 16 November, 2019. The increasing problem of violence in our politics today is a source of security concern.
“The stakeholders meeting organized by the Nigerian Police Force today is centred on the need to create a peaceful atmosphere before, during and after the forthcoming Bayelsa governorship election.
“INEC should ensure that Bayelsa governorship election meets and satisfies international best practices. They should regularly partner with the security agencies and create a conducive environment for all stakeholders to ensure credible election in Bayelsa state, INEC should enlighten and sensitize all political parties”.
“INEC management should show commitment to ensure that presiding officers, polling agents and other election officials are honest in discharging their duties, by understanding their rules in the election processes. INEC should ensure that adequate logistics and administrative processes are put in place before the day of the election to avoid delay as Bayelsa state is about 70 per cent water and movement and personnel”.
In his speech, the Administrative Secretary of INEC in Bayelsa State, Mr. Edwin Enabor, said that smart card readers to be used during the poll were undergoing routine maintenance and assured that there would be no card reader failure.
Enabor, however, said in an event of card reader failures, over 2,500 card readers had been borrowed from Rivers State.
He said: “We have to borrow 2,500 additional smart card readers from Rivers state and what we need is 2,240 smart card readers, which we have but still went to borrow more. The issue of smart card readers will be taken care of.”
He said the commission was prepared for the November 16th poll with issues of training and logistics adding that 90 per cent of the non-sensitive materials needed for the election were already in the state.
Enabor called on security agencies to protect materials and personnel saying that on the 15th of November, the sensitive materials would be moved from Yenagoa to the various centres.