Thousands of fierce looking soldiers, anti-riot mobile and regular policemen as well as men of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC) embarked on show of force ahead of tomorrow (Saturday) governorship election in the state.
This is as soldiers and policemen also Thursday mounted siege amid tight security to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) located on the ever busy Akpakpava road in Benin the Edo state capital, causing hours of gridlock at Ring Road, the City Centre and adjoining roads within the town.
Other areas affected include the Airport Road, Sakponba Road, Sapele Road, Plymouth Road and others.
The soldiers and anti-riot policemen were detailed to the apex bank for security purposes as officers of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) began the distribution of some sensitive materials menat for the poll.
One Police Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) was stationed in front of the entrance gate to the apex Bank while only accredited newsmen with their identity cards were allowed into the premises to witness the movement of sensitive materials which had arrived the complex on Wednesday evening.
Findings revealed that eleven trucks as at the time of filing this report have been loaded and released out of the premises while the dispatching exercises continued.
Addressing newsmen at the premises of the CBN, the Head of Voter Education and Publicity, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Edo State, Mr. Timidi Wariowei, said that the distribution commenced with the farthest local government areas.
He said, “So far, we have loaded about eleven local governments. We started from Akoko-Edo, Etsako Central, Owan East and Owan West among others.
According to him, “Some have gone and others are completely loaded and are sorting out their security escort and very soon materials will move to all the local government.”
“From the local government, the materials will move to Registration Areas Centres (RACs) and from the RACs they will move to the polling units and voting points on Saturday morning.
“As you can see, we are fully ready for the election. This is the high point of our preparation, that is moving the materials from the CBN to local government areas”, he said.
The materials arrived at the CBN office on Wednesday and they were inspected by Wariowei and party chieftains.
The Commission included the braille ballot guide for persons with disabilities, especially, the visually impaired persons.
Meanwhile, security agencies including soldiers, policemen, civil defense corps and other sister agencies yesterday carried out a joint exercise before the election tagged “Operation Show of Force” along major roads in the state capital.
The move was to alert residents of the state of the heavy presence of security personnel and their readiness for the epic governorship election.
As at the last count no fewer than 70 patrol vehicles loaded with personnel heavily armed from the various security agencies and commands across the country paraded strategic major roads and streets in Benin City.
Police Public Relations Officer of the state command, DSP Chidi Nwabuzor told newsmen during the exercise that the inter agencies’ commitment to ensure that the election was peaceful.
He said it was also to ensure that the election was violence free, fair, free and credible.
He urged voters to come out en masse on Saturday and vote for the candidate of their choice assuring them that their lives and property would be protected.
Some of the security agencies that participated in the exercise include the Nigerian Army, Police Mobile Force, Nigerian Police Force, Nigerian Customs Service, and the Directorate of State Services (DSS).
Others were the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, Nigerian Air force, Federal Road Safety Corps, the Nigerian Correctional Service, Nigerian Immigration Service, and the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency.
The exercise commenced from the police command Headquarters Benin through Sapele road, Country home on Sapele road and Ugbo road on Government Reservation Areas in the ancient capital city.
Other routes covered were the GRA, Adesuwa road, Ihama road and the entire stretch of the Airport road, Akenzua road, Ehaekpen Street, TV road, Five junction, Uselu-Lagos road, Upper Mission road and the ring road.