NIGERIA’S security forces have begun mobilising its troops to provide adequate security during the March 18 governorship and state house of assembly elections in Rivers.
Brig,-Gen. Suleiman Tilawan, Commander, 6 Division, Nigeria Army, Port Harcourt gave the disclosure when he flagged-off the mobilisation exercise at the division’s headquarters in Port Harcourt on Thursday.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Rivers is among some of states in the country that has always recorded electoral violence and snatching of ballot boxes by sponsored thugs in previous elections.
The elections would be a close call between PDP candidate Sim Fubara – backed by Gov. Nyesom Wike, Tonye Cole of the APC; former Senator Magnus Abe of SDP and the LP candidate, Beatrice Itubor.
But Tilawan said the joint show of force comprising the Army, Navy, Air Force, Police, DSS, NSCDC, NIS, NDLEA among others sought to assure residents of their safety during the polls.
“The joint show of force seeks to reassure residents of our readiness to provide adequate security and instil confidence in the electorates to come out en masse to vote for candidates of their choice.
“We are all aware of the task before us come Saturday, and as usual, we (security agencies) are going to operate jointly on that day.
“So, the essence of this show of force today is to warn those that need warning and those who think that they can create problems on Saturday,” he said.
Tilawan said the show of force on major roads across the state aimed to send a signal to sponsored thugs to rethink and abandon any illegitimate plans they have.
“Aside from this, the exercise aims to give confidence to citizens that may be feeling worried about their safety if they come out to exercise their rights on Saturday.
“So, seeing highly trained and capable security personnel today in our numbers will give them (voters) comfort that they have nothing to fear.
“Our role is to assist the authorities by maintaining law and order for the elections to be peaceful. So, I assure there will be peaceful elections in Rivers on Saturday,” he promised.
The army officer warned hoodlums planning violence and unrest in the state to have a rethink and promised that security operatives would be all out for them.
Tilawan urged service men and women to remain neutral and professional in their conducts as well as adhere strictly to the rules of engagement and guidelines for the elections. (NAN)