Residents of Ekiti State have expressed deep concerns over the tension currently building up in the state following plans by the Federal Government to deploy about 30, 000 security personnel for the Saturday’s governorship election.
A cross-section of stakeholders, who spoke to our correspondent, said the development was heightening tension and creating fears in the minds of the people.
A commercial car operator in Ikere, Ajibola Idowu, described the idea of moving such large number of security agents to the state as ill-advised, arguing that it would automatically give an impression that there would be unavoidable clashes on Election Day.
He said, “I have made up my mind to relocate my family members to Ita-Ogbolu in Ondo State on Thursday so that they can stay with my sister there. Nobody can guarantee that security men will not maltreat innocent people before or during the election.”
A trader in Akure, Mrs. Bisola Ilesanmi, said the security operatives would want to justify the essence of their deployment by creating tension.
“Many of them can even decide to harass law abiding residents as a result of overzealousness just to impress their bosses that they are working,” she stated.
A 70-year-old retired headmaster, Mr. Ade Ashaolu, who lives in Oye-Ekiti, told our correspondent that he would remain indoors with his family throughout the day of the election.
He said, “My fear is that the politicians are too desperate to win this election and in such a situation, they would try to play smart. The heavily armed security personnel drafted to maintain peace may want to resist such illegality.
“Once that happens, some overzealous personnel may decide to embark on massive arrest and apprehend innocent people in the process.”
The Mega Party Chairman in Ekiti, Dare Adekolu, however welcome the idea of deploying security personnel to the state.
He said, “It is a good development if they are coming to secure live and property. You can only enjoy dividends of democracy when you are alive. What I will not support is when they resort to intimidation and harassment of the electorate.”
The state PDP Publicity Secretary, Jackson Adebayo, also noted that security remained a serious factor in any election, provided it would be to protect lives and property.
He said, “The only concern is that they should not be deployed in favour of the APC candidate. We don’t need security to win the election. Let them maintain law and order; let them remain neutral and not compromise the integrity of the election.”
The APC Publicity Secretary, Taiwo Olatunbosun, also sees nothing strange in deploying security personnel to forestall a breakdown of law and order, stressing that it would not be the first time such thing would happen.
He said, “Under President Buhari, security personnel have been deployed and the opposition parties still won elections in some cases.
“People cannot hide under elections to perpetrate criminality. People must feel secured to exercise their civic responsibility. It is their inalienable right to enjoy freedom of movement.”