Security Beef-up As Presidential Election Tribunal Rules, Gridlock At Gwagwalada, Nyanya, Zuba, Bwari Checkpoints 


Ahead of today’s judgement by the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal in Abuja, there’s security beef-up within and around the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja, where the PEPT members are expected to rule on the petitions brought before them by some aggrieved presidential candidates.

The duo of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Mr. Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP) and a few others had petitioned the PEPT over the declaration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as winner of the 2023 presidential election.

While Tinubu scored 8.8 million, Atiku polled 6.9 million and Obi 6.1 million votes.

And after months of exchange of legal fireworks, the PEPT is set to give its judgement, a development that has created some level of tension, especially within and around the FCT.

The PEPT, which has Justice Haruna Tsammani as Chairman, comprises of Justice Stephen Adah (Court of Appeal Asaba Division), Justice Monsurat Bolaji-Yusuf (Court of Appeal Asaba Division), Justices Moses Ugo  (Court of Appeal Kano Division) and Abba Mohammed of the Ibadan Division of the Court of Appeal, as members.

And ahead of the judgement, the Department of State Services (DSS) Monday raised the alarm over alleged plan by some unnamed politicians to cause mayhem to discredit the federal government as well as the security agencies.

Similarly, the Defence Headquarters and the Nigeria Police Force warned troublemakers to stay off or face the full wrath of the law.

…Military checkpoints return

Blueprint observed that in a way, the ‘judgment day’ necessitated the return of some military checkpoints along the entry points into Abuja such as Zuba, Nyanya, Gwagwalada and Bwari.

For instance, before now, the traffic flow along the Mararaba-Nyanya axis had been smooth as there was no military checkpoint.

It was however observed that in the early hours of Tuesday, the checkpoint returned to the Karu Bridge, Nyanya – Mararaba road.

One of our correspondents, like a few other motorists, was stopped and his vehicle searched by military personnel.

It was further gathered that soldiers from the Guards Brigade of the Nigerian Army were stationed at the Nyanya axis to take charge.

Eye witnesses said the soldiers barricaded the road after Karu Bridge and before Kugbo, causing gridlock that stretched to Mararaba in Karu local government area of Nasarawa state.

Motorists plying the Abuja-Keffi expressway were left stranded in the traffic jam caused by the stop-and-search operation on vehicles by the military officers.

It was gathered that the soldiers restricted vehicular movement on the road to a single lane, thus causing gridlock.

Although civil servants and traders who work in Abuja and live outside the city centre in places such as Nyanya, Karu, Mararaba and Masaka had gone to work before the blockage, those who work in private organisations like hotels, supermarkets and private security outfits that run shifts, were stranded.

A witness who works in a hotel who simply identified himself as Jonathan said: “I am supposed to resume work by 2pm but I got to the office by 5pm. I was stuck in the gridlock for over 4 hours. One can be on a spot for about 40 minutes, and then it moves slowly and stops again.”

Although, as at the time of filing this report, no official reason was given by the military for the blockage, Blueprint, however, gathered that it might not be unconnected to the judgement of the PEPT to be delivered today.

…Apprehension over likely protest

Similarly, our findings revealed that a political movement was mobilising supporters of a particular presidential candidate for mass protest if the judgement didn’t go in their favour.

To this end, the rumoured protest plan had forced some business owners in the Central Area of the FCT to close their offices and shops earlier than expected.

One of our correspondents, who drove round the city and spoke with some residents, however noticed calmness without heavy deployment of security as at the time of this report.

A businessman in the Central Area, Chukwuemeka Alex, called on the government to deploy security personnel around Abuja to forestall possible breakdown of law and order after the judgement.

Alex said: “My concern is that some people may protest after the declaration of the judgement and those who may be the losers might want to protest, so I appeal to the government to prioritise our security and that of our businesses in the FCT.”

In her own response, a civil servant, who pleaded anonymity, said he heard of a planned protest by the ‘Obidient Movement’, a group loyal to the LP candidate if the judgement didn’t go in their favour.

The government worker said: “The ongoing strike by the Labour Union is a blessing for us because what we are hearing about planned protest by the Obidients is scaring.

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