Posted by Abbas Jimoh | 1 November 2019 | 445 times
Ahead of the November 16 governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has raised alarm that thugs have been mobilized from within and outside the states with the aim of either influencing the elections or disrupting the process on behalf of partisan sponsors.
The Chairman of the commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said this on Friday in Abuja during the Quarterly Consultative Meeting of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES).
According to him, the meeting was mainly to review of the security situation and security arrangement for the governorship elections holding in the two states in the next 15 days.
“In the last two weeks, the Commission met a couple of times with the leadership of the Nigeria Police, being the lead agency in election security. At these meetings, we reviewed the security situation in Bayelsa and Kogi States and how best to secure the environment to enable the commission to conduct free and fair elections.
“Doing so means providing security that will guarantee the safety of voters; protection of INEC officials (both regular and ad hoc staff); unimpeded movement, including access to polling units and collation centres for election officials, accredited polling agents, observers and the media; effectively and dispassionately dealing with disruptive behaviour by some political actors and persons acting on their behalf; enforcement of the restriction of movement in both States on election day; and the prompt arrest and prosecution of offenders.
“There are already warning signals in the two States. Both are politically volatile. Elections have been severally disrupted by violence in the past. Our own risk assessment which will be shared with the security agencies at this meeting has identified some flash points. We are also concerned that thugs have been mobilized from within and outside the States with the aim of either influencing the elections or disrupting the process on behalf of partisan sponsors,” Yakubu said.
He said the situation called for a robust response before the elections, on Election Day and during the process of collation and declaration of results.
The INEC boss said Nigerians expect that by now that everyone has learnt enough lessons from previous elections to ensure a swift security response to the increasing desperation by political actors to disrupt elections and subvert the will of the electorate.
He said that if that happens, many Nigerians will blame the electoral umpire and the security agencies, thus they must continue to rise to the challenge.
While saying that INEC is committed to the integrity of the process, Yakubu said that over the last seven months, the commission have been working assiduously to ensure that it conduct credible elections.
He said, We cannot undermine the processes we have so laboriously established. We are equally confident in the assurances we have received from the security agencies of civil and professional conduct by their personnel deployed for the elections.
“We have been re-assured by the security agencies that Election Day activities at polling units and collation centres will not be disrupted by the activities of hoodlums neither will thugs be allowed to cart away results sheets or compel our Returning Officers to make declarations under duress. We are equally re-assured that security personnel will adhere strictly to the standard operational guidelines and deal decisively with misconduct by their personnel on election duty.
“We are equally confident that with the sheer number of personnel the security agencies are deploying in the two States, there can be no excuse for the processes to be undermined by anti-democratic elements.”
He said the meeting will also discuss and finalise the security deployment plan for the two elections in line with provision of Section 29 (3) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) so that the security agencies are not perceived to be running parallel arrangement with INEC, but that it should be INEC’s plan for the election that all should all be implementing.
He said that INEC will continue to engage with stakeholders to ensure peaceful and credible polls and will on Thursday 7th November 2019, organize another meeting with stakeholders in Bayelsa State to be followed by another meeting on Monday 11th November 2019 in Kogi State.
He said, “We will be joined by the Inspector-General of Police, the Director General of NYSC and representatives of all the security agencies to listen to the concerns of stakeholders and fine-tune our plans in full consultation with the stakeholders.” (Daily Trust)
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