By Godwin Ijediogor (News Editor)
IN less than 24 hours, it will have become clear if Nigeria would be having its first female elected state governor. Senator Aisha Jumai Alhassan is running for governor of Taraba State on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Today’s supplementary elections, holding in Abia, Imo and Taraba states, were ordered by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), following inconclusive polls due to irregularities.
In Abia, the duel is between Okezie Victor Ikpeazu of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and Alex Otti of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA). INEC spokesman in the state, Edwin Enabor, said the polls would be conducted in some polling units across nine councils, with combined registered voters nimbering 179, 224.
The affected councils are Aba North, Aba South, Isiala Ngwa North, Isiala Ngwa South, Umuahia South, Bende, Ohafia, Arochukwu and Osisioma.
In the case of Imo, it is a straight fight between incumbent Governor Rochas Okorocha of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and PDP’s Emeka Ihedioha, who is Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives.
The state Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Dr. Gabriel Adah, had announced that the result of the governorship election was not clear enough to have an outright winner.
He stated the inconclusiveness was as a result of non-functionality of card readers, violence and snatching of ballot boxes, adding: “It would be wrong under such situation if a winner was declared.” Today’s exercise takes place in in 250 polling booths across the 23 councils.
Taraba State is where the focus is on today, as Alhassan squares up against Darius Dickson Ishaku of PDP in nine councils. The state Returning Officer for governorship election, Muhammadu Kyari, had declared the election inconclusive after collating the results from 16 out of the 17 councils, because the number of cancelled votes was above the gap between Ishaku, a former Minister of State for Niger Delta Affairs, who came first, and Alhassan, who came second. Ishaku polled 317,198 votes, while Alhassan got 262,386.
The exercise would hold in 165 polling units in Donga council, with over 85,657 registered voters. Other councils that had their votes cancelled are Bali, Karim-Lamido, Takum, Ussa, Wukari, Yorro and Zing.
Meanwhile, the Acting Inspector General of Police, Solomon E. Arase, has warned officers involved in today’s supplementary/re-run elections in Abia, Imo, Kogi, Delta and Taraba states to conduct themselves in line with established standard operational guidelines.
While reminding officers to be above board and maintain the highest level of professionalism for which the Force has been widely commended, both locally and internationally, the new Police boss warned that severe disciplinary sanctions would be meted out to any deviant officer who breaches the code of conduct.
A statement in Abuja by the Force Public Relations Officer, Emmanuel Ojukwu, a Commissioner of Police, also said as part of efforts to ensure adequate security, Arase has ordered restriction on vehicular movements between 8am an 5pm in councils of the affected states where supplementary/rerun elections are holding today.
his restriction in and out of the areas does not however affect ambulances, fire service trucks and people on essential duties. As a result, travelers and citizens intending to ply roads within those hours have been advised to plan alternative routes.
Arase also warned government officials and political office holders not to go to polling units with uniformed orderlies or aides and those who have no business with voting must not be found within 300 metres of a polling unit.
The Police authorities assured that adequate security measures have been put in place with the deployment of additional senior officers to supervise security of elections in the states.
They include one Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG), one Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) and two Commissioners of Police (CP) deployed to Abia State; one AIG and three CPs deployed to Imo State and two AIGs and two Deputy Commissioners of Police (DCPs) deployed to Taraba State.
The Police urged residents of the affected states to remain vigilant and report all suspicious movements or dealings to appropriate Police authorities.
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