The Inspector-General of Police, IGP, Usman Baba, said that the massive deployment of security personnel to the state ahead of the November 6 Anambra State Governorship poll might discourage voters’ turnout.
But the measure is necessary to stop criminals from disrupting the process and causing mayhem.
According to him, the police has deployed 34, 587 personnel including two DIGs, five AIGs, 92 other top officers and three helicopters to Anambra for the election.
The Police boss’s stance came as the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, said it had neither made any official statement on the poll nor called for its boycott, contrary to several blackmailing statements against the group.
Meanwhile, the Voters Rights International, (VRI) has dragged the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to a court seeking to postpone the governorship election to February 15, 2022, over insecurity.
IGP Baba, featuring at the ministerial media briefing organized by the Presidential Communications Team at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, said to ensure that the electorates come out to exercise their franchise the police had been releasing jingles and talking to stakeholders to assure them of safety measures put out for a successful process.
He explained that most of the officers assigned to polling booths would be unarmed as it would involve them in checking vote-rigging and illegal campaigns at venues.
He said: “The massive deployment has its advantages and disadvantages.
Knowing the fact that it has the disadvantage of maybe militarising the electoral process, we try to engage in public enlightenment and enlightenment of stakeholders that our presence is to police the situation in two ways.
“Therefore, we are asking people to come out and vote.
Another group or other subversive elements are saying, ‘don’t come.
“If you come, we will do what is needed.
There must be a level of assurance that will give these people a reason to come out.
“That requires the massive deployment of officers and men who would also ensure that the subversive elements do not take over the process.
According to the police boss, personnel would be deployed to polling stations “to ensure orderliness and checking of electoral malpractices, like vote-buying, campaigning in the place and so forth, this does not even require carrying of arms.
“There is a need to put officers on standby, on patrol, that would check the would-be persons that can carry arms against the state.
“We are trying to educate and enlighten people that our presence benefits everybody, ensure that electorate come out and exercise their franchise of voting who they want.
“That is the essence of the jingles we are doing, the essence of going to do community engagements, stakeholders meetings, talking to their religious leaders and so forth.
“It is for the advantage of everybody that the massive deployment should take place.
Reacting to the comment, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, called on Inspector General of Police, IGP, Usman Baba, to restrict the role of his men to the orderly and peaceful conduct of the governorship election.
PDP National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan said: “The Inspector General of Police must be reminded that the eyes of the world are on him and his men.
“The police should provide a peaceful condition for election to hold.
They must not conduct themselves to make it possible for election results to be written.
“As far as the PDP is concerned, voters will be out to cast their ballot, but we insist they should be protected.
On no account should it intimidate them.
The role of the police is clear.
The people are behind our candidate, Valentine Ozigbo.
So, we are very optimistic about victory.
Governorship poll: Massive deployment of security in Anambra is necessary – IGP