As the nation goes to the polls on March 28 and April 11, to elect president, governors and legislators, Aderemi Adeoye, assistant police commissioner, gives important tips how women and children can survive in case of violence
| By Fidelia Salami | Apr. 6, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT |
IN apparent expectations that March 28 and April 11, general elections may be violent a lot of Nigerians have been stocking up their homes with food items and daily needs. Public spirited Nigerians especially former security operatives are also advising vulnerable groups particularly women and children on how to avoid trouble on election day.
One of the women who preparing for any eventuality as a result of the election is Rahmatu Ibrahim, a media consultant, who lives at Egbeda, Lagos. Ibrahim said she had bought food items that would serve her family for at least three days, despite the fact that she believed there would be a free, fair and peaceful election. She, however, said in the midst of 10 good people, there would be at least one person that would be used by satan to disrupt peace, and so it was better to play safe for the sake of the family.
Similarly, Paul Oyanna, a business man, said that he gave his wife some money to stock the house. “When I saw people fleeing from Lagos and going back to their home states because of the election, I had to give my wife a reasonable amount of money to buy food stuff from the market that will last my family at least one week after the election would have been held,” Oyanna said.
Although Bob Manuel, a business man from Alimosho local government area, does not envisage any form of violence happening, he had to make provisions for his family in case any eventuality.
Nonetheless, some Nigerians have fled their residence especially in crisis prone areas like Alimosho, Mushin, Bariga, all in Lagos, to their home state in anticipation of violence. This must be the reason security officers say that in any violent situation, it is common knowledge that children and women usually bear the brunt and advised them on what to do to stay safe and out of any harm.
In order to avoid being a casualty, Aderemi Adeoye, assistant commissioner of police, who is currently on a one-year contract with African Union Commission, planning for African Union Police contingents in trouble spots across Africa, wants women and children to always be on their guard. Adeoye, who is stationed in Addis Ababa, Uganda, said in any outbreak of violence, women and children are usually the most vulnerable. This, he said, stemmed naturally from the fact that compared with men they are less equipped to defend themselves from aggressors, mostly men and male youths.
Based on this, the police men advised: “As much as resources will permit, women should endeavour to stockpile food and other essentials that can last for three days to one week from the day of election. This is in case of breakdown of law and order that makes it unsafe to venture into the streets during or after the election. “Women who do not have permanent voter’s card, PVC, should stay away from polling units unless the INEC makes an announcement to the contrary before election day. If you are not eligible to vote, going to the polling unit is looking for trouble.”
Apart from that, Adeoye advised women to be adequately informed about the identities and loyalties enjoyed by the two major parties, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and the All Progressives, Congress, APC. “Going to opponent’s strongholds on Election Day to jubilate or celebrate wins, whether real or imagined by their favorites may attract unpleasant reactions that may put the women at risk,” Adeoye said.
According to the police officer, any woman who wants to exercise her franchise should expect to spend considerable time at the polling stations, for both accreditation and for the voting exercise. “It will be necessary to take along needed items like their PVC’, some snacks, some cash, etc. This will help them to keep off the streets while the process is on. They should return home immediately after casting their vote in order stay out of harm’s way. The parties have their agents at various polling units to protect their votes. It is not their (women’s) call unless they are serving as accredited agents of their parties,” he said. At the polling centres, he advised women to keep their opinions to themselves on who is likely to win or who they would vote for so as not to provoke immature partisans who may resort to assaulting people with dissenting views.
Also, Adeoye admonished women to monitor their children’s movement on election day so that they are not used as thugs by politicians to cause mayhem. “Not paying attention to this may put deviant children on collision course with security operatives with possible incarceration or injury resulting there from. And they should make adequate provision for the convenience of their children before leaving for the polling units so that they will not have cause to wander about the streets while voting process is on. An idle mind is the devil’s workshop,” he said.
Women should be very observant of happenings around the polling poll and quickly alert security operatives if they observe any untoward happenings like suspicious objects being dropped in the vicinity or gun men who are not security operatives, lurking around the area. Don’t touch that strange object. It may be improvised explosive device IED. That is another name for home made bomb. Women should quickly lie down or move behind strong cover like rocks, trees or walls in the event of outbreak of shooting. They should not allow their curiosity to get the better of them and thus endangering their lives, he said.
In the event of outbreak of violence, he said women should move away from the scene as quickly as possible if they found themselves on the streets. And if at home, they should stay indoors. “If their neighbourhood comes under attack they should call police hotlines as quickly as possible so that help can come before too much damage is done. And women should make effort to get and store on their phones contact numbers of the nearest fire stations, ambulance units and police stations for use in emergency situations. They should endeavour to monitor happenings and developments on televisions and radios to know what the situation in town is before they set out for places of worship especially on Sunday morning after Election Day,” he said.
More importantly, Adeoye would want women to be in vanguard of those preaching the need for peaceful co-existence to their husbands and children during the run down to the elections and advocate same in their neighbourhood.