There was pronounced panic among residents in some key states of the country on Friday as the Nigerian Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (NAFISR) jets began patrols the North-East, Adamawa, Kwara, Rivers states.
The air patrol was going on just as soldiers and policemen took over the streets and some strategic locations in Rivers, Delta, Adamawa, Bayelsa, and Akwa Ibom states ahead of the elections.
Residents of the reported states complained of intimidation by security forces patrolling parts of their states.
In Adamawa, the movement of security vans from Yola to other parts of the state on Friday morning.
Some of the indigenes said the stakes were high in the state because the wife of President Muhammadu Buhari, Aisha, is from the state.
Aisha had supported her brother, Mamhud Ahmed, in the race for the governorship ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC) but he lost to the incumbent governor, Jibrilla Bindow, coming second in the contest.
Despite the loss, Aisha is said to be interested in proving her worth as the President’s wife by winning the state for the APC.
Moreover, the state governor is facing allegation of certificate forgery and if the court rules against him even after winning, it could pave the way for Aisha’s brother to emerge as the APC candidate.
The state is also under pressure because the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar’s political relevance depends on the success of the PDP in the state after the INEC declared him (Atiku) the runner-up in the recent presidential election.
Atiku won the state in the last presidential race by a slim margin but his party, the PDP, is of the view that the election was rigged to reduce Atiku’s votes.
A NAF top source said, “The Air Force ISR platforms cannnot be visible in every state because of logistic constraints, you don’t expect us to deploy in the 36 states.
“But there are flashpoints and states where you suspect that violence may want to occur.
“The ISR will be visible as usual in the North-East axis, South-South, South-West, Kwara and other places that crop up on the election day.
“But the aircraft are mainly for surveillance and nothing more. The security personnel are on the ground to manage any situation.”
In Akwa Ibom State, soldiers, mobile policemen and three commissioners of police have reportedly taken over the state.
Four MOPOL units, including Special Protection Units, have been deployed in the state.
“The additional deployment would join forces with over 9210 earlier deployed in the state.
“He however said some of those earlier deployed in the state had been withdrawn,” CP Sani Kaoje, the Akwa Ibom Commissioner of Police in charge of election duties, who confirmed the deployment to our correspondent on Friday said.
In Bayelsa State, there was an uneasy calm among residents of Yenagoa, the Bayelsa capital and the indigenes of the neighbouring communities as more soldiers and policemen were seen moving around and stationed in strategic locations.
As early as 6am on Friday, the military presence in the state drawn from the Navy, Army and the Air Force were reinforced.
In Delta State, security has been beefed up around major flashpoints.
Security operatives have also been deployed in the riverine areas including the creeks of Warri South-West, Burutu, Bomadi and Warri-North local government areas.
It was observed that on Friday patrols by military operatives around the oil city of Warrri, Effurun, Udu and Ughelli.
There was also heavy presence of policemen on stop-and-check duties along the Otor-Udu/Otu-Jeremi road and along the DSC Expressway.
Some military trucks were sighted stationed at the Effurun Market along the PTI Road in Uvwie LGA near Warri.