A chaotic situation ensued on Tuesday at the stakeholders’ meeting organised by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) ahead of Saturday’s Kogi State governorship election after operatives of the Nigeria Police Force fired teargas to disperse suspected political hoodlums.
The police operatives, it was learnt, used the teargas after they failed to successfully disperse Natasha Akpoti, the governorship candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and her crowd of supporters from gaining access to Idrinana Hotel, the meeting’s venue in Lokoja, the Kogi State capital.
Upon being refused entry into the venue, Akpoti insisted that she was duly invited for the meeting and requested the security operatives to let her into the venue.
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But following the refusal of the SDP governorship candidate to yield to the demand of the police, the security operatives released the teargas as the crowd behind her began to agitate.
The ensuing melee forced individuals present at the meeting, including Mohammed Adamu, the Inspector General of Police; and Professor Mahmood Yakubu, INEC Chairman, to scamper for safety.
Mouktar Atimah, Chairman of SDP, stated that he was manhandled while trying to meditate.
Speaking shortly after the incident, Atimah said that what happened showed the extent to which our society had got rotten.
Akpoti was recently included on the list of candidates for the governorship election after she and her party successfully appealed their exclusion from the election by INEC.
Justice Folashade Ogunbanjo-Giwa, the presiding judge, held that INEC acted above the law by refusing to accept the party and its candidate for the poll.
She ruled that INEC had no power to disqualify any candidate for an election, without the backing of a court order.
Meanwhile, the Police Service Commission has announced that it would deploy 45 officials to monitor the governorship elections in Bayelsa and Kogi states on Saturday.
In a statement issued by Ikechukwu Ani, its spokesperson, on Tuesday, the PSC said 20 officials would be dispatched to Bayelsa State, while 25 would be in Kogi State to monitor the conduct of policemen on electoral duties against the approved rules of engagement for police officers on electoral duties and other relevant laws guiding such exercise.
The statement read: “The monitors will be in eight Local Government Areas of Bayelsa State and the 21 Local Government Areas of Kogi State. The team will be expected to arrive the two states on Wednesday, November 13 to monitor the deployment of men and materials, as well as the conduct of the officers before, during and after the elections.”
The Bayelsa State team would be led by Austin Braimoh, the Commissioner representing the South-South zone and the media, while the Kogi State team would be led by Rommy Mom, the Commissioner representing the North Central and the human rights organizations in the PSC.