The Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Fatai Owoseni, said on Friday that anyone caught with firearms during and after the local government election in the state would be as good as being on a suicide mission.
Speaking at a meeting with stakeholders in the election, including party chairmen, agents and supporters, where they signed an undertaking to maintain peace throughout the election, on Friday, the CP warned that there would be no mercy for anyone caught.
The election holds across the 20 local government areas and 37 local council development areas in the state on Saturday (today).
Owoseni, who was represented by the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Operations, Edgal Imohimi, said, “If you want to commit suicide, come out with your firearms because the police will use proportional force against such persons.
“During this election, we don’t want thuggery like we have witnessed in certain elections from different camps, which have caused mayhem. Talk to your supporters not to be overzealous. They must be patient and not cause problems, especially where materials are delayed due to logistics problems.”
Meanwhile, the Police Public Relations Officer in the State, Olarinde Famous-Cole, told one of our correspondents on the telephone on Friday that the restiction order on human and vehicular movement during the election would be strictly enforced.
He added, “There are no two ways to it. We are expecting a free and fair election and we are going to see it through. But any hoodlum who tries to disrupt the process or take the laws into their hands or cause the breakdown of law and order would be arrested and prosecuted.
“We have deployed adequate police personnel for the election and we are working with other security agencies and there would be a lot of foot and vehicular patrol.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission, Justice Ayotunde Phillips, on Friday, said the commission was committed to conducting free, fair and credible election.
In a statement on Friday, she said, “There is no doubt that the election is very competitive. I am happy about this because it is good for democracy. It gives the commission an assurance that democracy at the local government level in the state is being consolidated.
“I wish to reiterate that the commission will provide a level playing field for all political parties and their candidates. In demonstration of our commitment, the commission has deployed non-sensitive materials to the 57 LGAs and LCDAs so that electoral officers can have adequate time to distribute the materials to locations where they would be used for the election.”
She said the deployment of sensitive materials also took place on Friday, adding that accreditation and voting would take place simultaneously between 8am and 3pm today.
She added, “I want to reiterate that the results of the chairmanship election will be declared at the collation centre in each of the LGAs and LCDAs, while the results for councillorship election will be declared at each of the ward collation centres.
“The only condition that may warrant the declaration of the results outside the collation centres is if it is discovered that the environment is not safe and conducive.”
Meanwhile, as of Friday, security was beefed up around the LASIEC headquarters in Yaba ahead of the poll.
According to the News Agency of Nigeria, scores of heavily-armed security personnel were seen stationed around the office on Friday.
The police commissioner who also visited the LASIEC office warned any person or group that might want to cause trouble or violence during the poll to have a change of mind. “This is because the force will deal ruthlessly with anybody or group caught engaging in or sponsoring violence during the election,” he said.