As the flagbearer of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, and his counterpart in the Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi, and President Bola Tinubu anxiously await their fate today, security has been beefed up at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT) and other key areas in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), ahead of the tribunal’s judgement.
Recount that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had declared Tinubu the winner of the February 25th presidential poll, but Atiku, and Obi, who are the major contenders in this petition, asked the court to nullify the election and call for a re-run of the polls.
On Monday, the Chief Registrar, Court of Appeal headquarters, Umar Bangari, in a statement, revealed that the tribunal verdict will be delivered on Wednesday and aired live on television stations for the promotion of transparency.
The judgment will be delivered by the Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Haruna Tsammani, assisted by other members of the panel-Justices Stephen Adah, Monsurat Bolaji-Yusuf, Moses Ugo, and Abba Mohammed.
Bellnews gathered the premises of the Court of Appeal, Abuja, where the proceedings would be held was flooded with security personnel as of Tuesday night.
At about 6.50 pm, on Tuesday, truckloads of policemen were reported to have been brought to the Court of Appeal, and the police vehicles were used to barricade the court entrance.
According to Reporters, the police team was seen taking instructions from their superiors shortly after they were brought to the court premises.
Also, as part of preventive measures, scores of armed riot policemen, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, and other security operatives in plainclothes were deployed at strategic locations in the FCT. At the same time, several policemen were also patrolling the city in vehicles.
Similarly, at the Three Arms Zone, Julius Berger, Area One, Wuse, and other parts of the city, sores of agents were seen patrolling and police patrol vehicles were also seen moving around along the Federal Secretariat, Muhammadu Buhari Way, and Ladoke Akintola Boulevard.
Meanwhile, this platform also gathered that all major roads leading to the Court of Appeal would also be barricaded by the police before the court proceedings commenced.
A court worker, who pleaded anonymity, told The Punch that there was a memo sent to the staff informing them not to come to work on Wednesday, noting that there would be a heavy presence of security operatives around the court premises.
The official said, “Part of the reason workers were told not to come tomorrow (today) was that there would be a heavy presence of security operatives in strategic locations at the court premise.’’
It was also learned that lawyers and litigants might be frisked before entering the courtroom, while access to the premises would be tightly controlled.
A senior security source also disclosed to the platform that the acting Inspector-General of Police, Olukayode Egbetokun, had ordered all police commands and formations across the country to secure all major hotspots under their jurisdictions to ensure that there was no breakdown of law and order.
Taking into consideration a possible break down of law and order after the judgement, the police reportedly made both covert deployments of operatives and equipment across the nation, especially in Abuja and Lagos State.
The security source said, “Everyone is concerned. The police, military, DSS, and others are concerned. There’s an ongoing strike, and the PEPT judgment is expected to be delivered tomorrow (Wednesday), which puts a lot of pressure on all security agencies.
“This is because some politicians and groups may want to use the opportunity to sponsor protests or cause violence if the PEPT judgment doesn’t favour them or their choice candidate.”
However, in preparation for any eruption after the judgement, the Force Public Relations Officer, ACP Olumiyiwa Adejobi, in a statement on Tuesday, cautioned “mischief makers and political gladiators to be cautious in their actions and statements.”
Adejobi said, “In its bid to fortify security architecture and forestall any breakdown of law and order across the country as a result of the forthcoming Presidential Election Petition Tribunal Judgment scheduled to be passed on Wednesday, September 6, 2023, the Nigeria Police Force has strengthened its deployment across the length and breadth of Nigeria.
‘’The Police wish to reiterate the commitment to ensuring the safety of lives and property before, during, and after the judgment. The NPF has diligently placed all necessary deployments and security measures during this critical period as officers and men are fully prepared to maintain order and enforce laws while respecting the rights and freedoms of all citizens.
“Furthermore, the NPF strongly cautions all individuals, including mischief makers and political gladiators, to be cautious in their actions and statements as the Force will not condone activities capable of inciting violence or causing a descent into anarchy.
‘’ It is imperative for all citizens to embrace peace and maintain calm, regardless of their political affiliations, to ensure a peaceful and secure environment. The Nigeria Police Force is dedicated to its duty of protecting and serving the Nigerian people and is committed to carrying out these roles with professionalism, impartiality, and utmost dedication. Together, we can ensure a peaceful and secure environment for all during this period.”