FG shuts borders, police restrict vehicular movement as polls draw closer

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The Federal Government has ordered the closure of all land borders with effect from 12pm on Friday (today) to Sunday due to the Presidential and National Assembly polls scheduled to hold Saturday.

The Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazau, said in a statement that the action was to restrict movements across the borders during the election, asking the public to take note and also directed security agencies to ensure compliance.

Meanwhile, the acting Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, has ordered the restriction of vehicular movement from 6am to 6pm on Saturday.

He noted that the restriction would assist the security agencies in effectively policing the electoral process, “thereby preventing hoodlums and criminally-minded elements from hijacking and disrupting the electoral process.”

The force spokesman, Frank Mba, in a statement urged the citizens to go out en masse on election day to exercise their franchise without fear or apprehension.

He noted that the police and other security agencies had put in place adequate security measures to ensure a safe, secure and conducive environment for peaceful and credible elections.

The statement read, “In furtherance of the overall interest of public order, public well-being and safety and national security as it relates to the general elections billed to take place on Saturday, February 16, 2019, the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, has ordered the restriction of vehicular movement from 6am to 6pm on Saturday.”

While regretting the inconveniences the restriction might cause the citizens, the IG, however, warned that the Force would deal decisively with any individuals or groups that might want to test the will of the police.

He enjoined the citizens to steer clear of vote-buying, vote-selling, hate speech, circulating fake news, snatching of ballot boxes and other acts capable of truncating the people’s will.

Adamu said the Force would not hesitate to bring to bear the full weight of the law on anyone who engaged in crime during the election period.

Also, the Chief of the Defence Staff, Gen. Abayomi Olonisakin, has warned that anybody who violated the restriction of movement on election days will be arrested and detained, no matter how highly placed.

Olonisakin stated this at the Defence Headquarters, Abuja, on Thursday at a press conference on the preparedness of the armed forces towards the elections, adding that security agents not on election duty should come to the polling units to vote without harassing the citizens.

He noted that President Buhari had instructed the military to ensure free, fair and credible elections, saying “all Nigerians eligible to vote should carry out their responsibility without any fear of molestation by any person or group.”

Olonisakin said, “Law enforcement agencies will remain apolitical. Besides, a Code of Conduct for the Armed Forces of Nigeria for the 2019 General Elections has been issued to the services and security personnel that will be deployed in election security duties.

“All other personnel who are not so deployed in election security duties have been directed to steer clear of the elections apart from exercising their rights to vote for candidates of their choice.

“I appeal to all Nigerians to adhere strictly to the restrictions on movement during the period of the elections. Violators of the restriction on movement, no matter how highly placed, will be arrested and detained.

“However, this restriction does not apply to those on election security duties, local and international observers and emergency and security services personnel on authorised duties only.”

The defence chief noted that the military was aware of groups planning to impersonate soldiers and use the army uniform to create chaos, warning that the armed forces would go after such groups.

He added, “We are not unaware of plans to illegally use uniforms of military and paramilitary agencies to impersonate security and law enforcement agencies; illegal possession and use of firearms to intimidate and harass members of the public; and other acts likely to cause security breaches.

“Let me warn that the Armed Forces of Nigeria and other security agencies will not tolerate any act that is likely to cause security breaches before, during and after the elections, and we will deal decisively with these acts irrespective of those involved.

“Members of the public are also advised to disregard the call to stay at home on the day of the election being circulated in some parts of the country. The stay-at-home leaflets being circulated and similar on-line messages are part of the handiwork of mischief-makers who are bent on scuttling the process and should be ignored.”

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