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Osun Governorship: Apprehension Over Massive Security Deployment

Ear-splitting siren is blaring in Osogbo, the capital of Osun State as security operatives from various agencies, including the Nigerian Army, the Department of State…

Ear-splitting siren is blaring in Osogbo, the capital of Osun State as security operatives from various agencies, including the Nigerian Army, the Department of State Security (DSS) and the Nigeria Police Force arrive ahead of the August 9 governorship election.

They can be seen in all strategic areas. Though their presence is meant to guarantee safety, the people of the state seem apprehensive due to the appearance of stern looking security men.
The arrival of the security men has been greeted with mixed reactions. Some residents criticize the deployment of security personnel. Others laud the inititive.
A civil servant in the state, Alhaji Adeolu Oyesiku, while expressing his feeling on the development, said it was not wrong if the security men were deployed, especially if they did their job professionally.
He said: “Soldiers are everywhere. They are very civil. I drive round Osogbo at 2 a.m. Night clubs are operating as usual without molestation. When I meet the soldiers on the road, they simply said ‘your inner light please. Can you come down and open your boot?’  Of course, who wouldn’t do that? No one can doubt the professionalism of these soldiers. Anyone who is used to security formation in periods of wars or social crisis will know that getting past these guys can’t be a tea party”.
Oyesiku continued: “This takes me to the issue of the election. People should not be afraid at all. Remember, you are the ones who pay the salaries of all these security operatives. It is their duty to protect us. Anything to the contrary is an aberration. So on 9th August, wake up early, go for accreditation and vote. It is your civic responsibility”.
Obviously, Oyesiku was speaking the mind of majority of people of Osun State as his statement was corroborated by the Resident Electoral Commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Mr Olusegun Agbaje. The REC said the attitude of the political class in the state warranted the deployment of the security men to forestall breakdown of law and order.
He, however, warned the security men against overzealousness in the discharge of their duties so as not to scare the electorate from coming out to cast their votes for candidates of their choice during the election.
He said, “I have spoken with heads of all security agencies that were deployed to Osun for the election and I appeal to them to help us talk to their men to do their job with human face. They should carry out their assignment with professionalism and they should not harass innocent citizens of this state unnecessarily. The tensed political situation make it imperative for the deployment of these security men and since our advice to politicians to conduct themselves orderly to avoid this kind of situation do not yield, we have no choice other than resorting to massive deployment of security men. Since that is what the politicians want, so be it.”
Agbaje warned INEC officials and ad-hoc staff who would participate in election duties to shun sharp practices, adding that erring officials would face the full wrath of the law as enshrined in the electoral laws.
He said the commission recruited and trained 10,432 ad-hoc staff for the election and warned that any INEC official or ad-hoc staff caught in unscrupulous dealing would be arrested by security operatives.
Another resident of Osogbo, Dr Husseini Abdullahi, a medical doctor said he sighted armed DSS operatives in a convoy of over 50 Hilux vehicles parading the city of Osogbo and that their presence created fear in the mind of the people of the state.
Abdullahi said “the DSS ought to know that the state is peaceful and with the current behaviour, electorates may be scared and discouraged. The sporadic shooting by the DSS men is barbaric, uncivilised and should be condemned by all. The security men should be electorate friendly.”
Abdulahi, therefore, urged the electorate to come out on the day of election and vote without fear.
The civil society group in the state, Committee for Democracy and Rights of the People (CDRP) also warned the security men deployed for Osun governorship election to conduct themselves according to the basic principles and guidelines that set up their respective organisations.
The Acting National Coordinator of the organization, Comrade Saka Waheed told our correspondent that the shooting into the air in strategic places around Osogbo by the DSS operatives was barbaric when there was no security threat in the state.
“It is a trite law that he who must come with equity must come with clean hand. The unprofessional behaviour of security officers who just arrived Osun State despite initial condemnation has clearly boosted and validated the argument of some sections of the people that the deployment of army and state security services (SSS) to an electoral process is another approach by the power that be to manipulate the system,” Saka noted.
He described Osun as peaceful state comprising peace loving people who saw the incoming election as normal civic duty in a democratic setting, urging the security agencies to understand the sociological perspective and act accordingly henceforth.
Saka also saluted the courage of the citizenry for maintaining decorum, calmness and civility throughout the period of the shooting. He promised that the organization would not hesitate to charge to court of law, any officer who over-stepped his boundary before, during and after the August 9 election.
Also speaking with our correspondent, the Special Adviser to Osun State Governor Rauf Aregbesola on Environment and Sanitation, Bola Ilori urged the people not to panic over the massive deployment of soldiers and the operatives of the Department of Security Service.
Ilori decried the sporadic shooting by operatives of the DSS and cautioned against misuse of security agents by political class in the country.
He also claimed that the federal government was intimidating the people of the state event when there was no security threat, charged the central government to curtail the excesses of the operatives of DSS who he said had turned Osun to a war zone.
The Director of Publicity, Research and Strategy, of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in Osun state, Barr Kunle Oyatomi in his own reaction said the military was not saddled with internal security duties. Oyatomi said the deployment of soldiers for the election was against the constitution.
He said the Nigeria Police constitutionally was best suited for election duties, emphasizing that a siege by the military during an election was a subversion of democracy which must not be encouraged.
He added that Osun citizens in Osogbo and elsewhere were unimpressed by the show of force by DSS operatives. Oyatomi said: “the DSS security operatives got a shocker around 5p.m in the evening along Okefia when in company of some masked men the security operatives rent the air with a burst of sporadic gunfire to simply intimidate people.
“Rather than scatter in fright, the people, with brooms in their hands, flooded into the street in utter defiance singing songs of praise of Aregbesola and the APC, and telling the security operatives who wanted to frighten them that no amount of threats and violence will change them from supporting the governor. The security people least expected what they saw”.
But the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state said the deployment of security men was proper and appropriate. The Secretary of the party, Prince Bola Ajao said the security men should be allowed to do their job unhindered. He advised the people of the state not to panic over massive deployment of operatives of DSS and assured the security men would not do anything to jeopardise the peace of the state.
Also, the Labour Party (LP) candidate, Alhaji Fatai Akinbade said the deployment of soldiers and DSS operative was a welcome development.
Akinbade said anyone who was not a criminal should not be afraid of security men. Akinbade, who spoke through his media aide, Kayode Oladeji said the presence of security agents would help boost the confidence of the electorate and ensure peaceful conduct of the exercise.

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