This came as the Lagos State Police Command, yesterday, uncovered a company in Gbagada area of Lagos, where ballot papers meant for the Ekiti governorship poll were allegedly printed.
Speaking with newsmen after a closed-door meeting with the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Paul Arkwright, in Abuja, Oshiomhole said despite the outrage in some sections against the deployment of thousands of policemen for the exercise, what is more important is to have a peaceful atmosphere for the conduct of a free, fair and credible election.
His words: “Whether they should use the military or not use the military, I don’t think you want to argue that. Over the years since 1999, the armed forces have always been deployed. Don’t forget when I was in Edo State, I told people that I want the armed forces to be involved in the election because the rigging machine is serviced by criminals who are hardened and who are often hired. Now, if you have criminals wielding AK 47 on election day, and the police is overwhelmed, you want to say the army should not be deployed? We shouldn’t worry about who we deploy; I think we should all pray that however people are deployed that in the end, we are not counting dead bodies.
“The important thing is that regardless of what the police chooses to do, regardless of the number they choose to deploy, let us ensure that those who are going to vote are safe and that the votes cast are secure. Whatever number they need to secure the lives of those who are going to vote to create that sense of security for people to move freely to vote for candidates of their choice, I don’t think we should dictate to the IGP how many people he wants to deploy.”
Oshiomhole, who appreciated the British High Commissioner for the visit assured that he would do everything to ensure a free and fair process in the Ekiti governorship election.
He said: “For us, the process is more important than the outcome because we are looking at the Nigeria project in terms of sustaining democracy, not the survival of a particular political aspirant whether it is on my party platform or on the platform of the opposition.”
In his remarks, Mr. Arkwright said his country is interested in Nigeria’s democracy, adding that “The British High Commission will be sending a team there to observe the election and to ensure that they go smoothly, to ensure that INEC can do its job, that the security forces do their job and basically to ensure that the people of Ekiti State are allowed to freely express their opinion, to vote with their conscience and to be able to do so in a peaceful manner.”
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