INEC: We didn't request for military deployment in collation centres

Posted by News Express | 18 March 2019 | 1,369 times

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•INEC National Commissioner, Festus Okoye

 Following the unprofessional conduct of some military personnel during the March 9, 2019 governorship and state Houses of Assembly elections, especially the invasion of the collation centre in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said that it did not request for the deployment of soldiers in its collation centres.

“I am not aware that the commission requested for the deployment of soldiers in collation centres,” INEC National Commissioner and Chairman of Voter Education and Publicity Committee, Mr. Festus Okoye, told THISDAY yesterday.

He said the commission would, therefore, hold high level meetings with the leadership of security agencies before the conduct of supplementary elections scheduled for Saturday to avoid a repeat of what happened in the earlier elections.

The electoral body had fixed March 23, 2019 for conduct of supplementary elections to conclude the process and make returns in the governorship elections in Adamawa, Sokoto, Bauchi, Benue, Kano and Plateau States, which it had earlier declared as inconclusive.

Similarly, after the invasion of the collation centre in Port Harcourt, the commission had on March 10, 2019, suspended all electoral processes in Rivers State having determined that there was widespread disruption of collation of results of the elections conducted on March 9, 2019.

The committee stated: “INEC expresses its displeasure with the role played by some soldiers and armed gangs in Rivers State, disrupting the collation process and attempting to subvert the will of the people.

“INEC is committed to expeditious completion of the collation process where results of the elections have been announced.”

INEC, therefore, assured Nigerians that it would issue detailed timelines and activities for the completion of the election on Wednesday, March 20, 2019.

However, while responding to THISDAY enquiry yesterday, INEC National Commissioner and Chairman Voter Education and Publicity, Mr. Festus Okoye, said that the meeting with the security agencies would focus on professionalism and the proper role of security agencies engaged in election security.

He stressed that the meeting would underlie the importance of delivering supplementary elections that would meet the requisite threshold of credibility and transparency.

The National Commissioner noted that Nigerian people want an election that reflects the true voting preferences of the people.

Okoye explained further that at the national level, the commission has an inter-agency consultative committee on election security, saying that the committee meets quarterly and as at when due to review election security related matters and the different arms of the security services part of the committee.

Okoye said that the commission requested and received tremendous assistance from the Nigerian Air Force in airlifting and distribution of sensitive materials, stressing that the Navy has also been assisting in protecting election officials on the high seas.

On military deployment, he stated: “I am not aware that the commission requested for the deployment of soldiers to the collation centres.

“Constitutionally, the police can request for the assistance of the Nigerian Army in certain circumstances. The commission will continue to rely on the Nigerian Police Force as the lead agency on election security.

“The police and the commission will continue to enjoy the cooperation and assistance of other agencies especially in the inner cordon of the polling units.

“The commission does not deploy the military. The military are engaged in internal security operations in some states of the federation and it is the Commander-in-Chief and the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria that can determine their deployment. Our expectation is that all the security agencies involved in election security must remain apolitical, professional and act ethically.”

Excerpted from a THISDAY report



Source: News Express

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