A combined team of various security agencies in Abia State on Friday held a Joint Show of Force (JSF) exercise in the major cities of Aba and Umuahia respectively.
The JSF exercise which is coming about 24hrs to the Presidential and National Assembly elections saw members of the security agencies parade major streets of Aba and Umuahia in a convoy, including some of the flashpoints suspected to be operational base of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and breeding of hoodlums.
The exercise in Aba which started at the Abia Area Command of the Nigeria Police Force had the presence of personnel of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), the Army, personnel of Counter Terrorism Unit (CTU), Mobile Police Force (MPF), among others.
Sources within the security circles who spoke to our reporter anonymously said that the essence of the security patrol was to sending warning signals to people or group of persons that might want to foment troubles in tomorrow’s election and to also assure Abians and Nigerians who are ready to exercise their franchise of the readiness of the military and other security agencies to protect lives and properties of citizens of the state.
Addressing the personnel at the end of the patrol, an Assistant Commissioner of Police in-charge of Aba Area Command, Peter Okpara thanked the personnel for comporting themselves while the operation lasted.
Okpara charged them to be professional in the discharge of their duties at their various places of primary assignments Saturday, also reminded them of the need to protect INEC staff, the voters, and themselves.
“Tomorrow is the D-Day. The security agencies are on ground to discharge their duties according to the constitution. You must protect INEC officials, election materials, voters, foreign observers and also protect yourselves.
“You shouldn’t be biased; there’s no friendship in election. Do your work the way it should be done. No brother, no party affiliation, no religion, no tribe.
“Comport yourselves tomorrow. From 12midnight, all of us must be on duty till the election materials leave for Umuahia.
“You must be careful because the world is watching us. If this election goes well, others will take the glory. But when it goes bad, they will blame us and that is why we must be professionals. We will not fail. Be in your duty post as early as possible for without your presence, no INEC staff will work until you come.”
Meanwhile, information reaching us has it that non-sensitive materials including card readers were distributed to various LGAs on Thursday.
Spokesman of the electoral umpire in the state, Mr. Oyetunji Bamidele said that the commission has put every measures on ground to ensure that there was free, fair and credible election in the state, urged over 1million Abia voters to come out enmass to vote for the candidate of their choice, adding that adequate has been put on ground to protect the lives and properties of the people.
“We are fully prepared. We started distributing non-sensitive materials on Wednesday. Distribution of sensitive materials will be distributed by Friday morning at about 8am.
“Our security arrangement is superb. It is being coordinated by Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election and Security. We have put adequate measures to ensure that everything went according to plans.
“We are urging Abians to ensure that they go about to perform their franchise. The police are equal to the task. We have about 1.9million voters in Abia State. We are urging them to come out and ensure that they exercise their franchise.”
Meanwhile our reporter who also visited markets in Aba and Umuahia reports that while the Ubani Market in Umuahia was scanty, that could not be said to several markets including Ariaria, Ahia Ohuru, Cemetery markets respectively as many people were seen purchasing one commodity or the other.
Others including Madam Ifeyinwa Offor said that they were in the market to buy what their family would use until next week.
Mrs. Offor and others, who expressed fears over the 2019 elections, said that though they wanted to come out and cast their votes, they would wait indoors and observe the situation of things before they can come out to vote, that is, if there was no violence of any kind.
Another buyer who gave her name as Anne said that she would have come to shop for her provision store in Cameroun next week, but later changed her mind to come to Aba on Wednesday to buy what she wants to stock in her shop because of the uncertainty surrounding this weekend’s election in Nigeria.
The story was the same in some of the banks visited as customers beseeched the banking halls trying to carry out their final financial transactions before the election which curfew starts 6am Saturday.
The Automated Teller paying point of banks and motor park venues witnessed large turnout of customers who were trying to make withdrawals.