The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has called for enhanced collaboration with the Police towards ensuring peaceful conduct of the 2023 general elections in the country.
Malam Garba Madami, the Kwara INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), made the call on Friday in Ilorin when he paid a visit to the Commissioner of Police, Amienbo Assayomo.
He said the police were INEC’s major stakeholders on election security.
“In fact, the police are the leading security agency in charge of election in Nigeria because an election is a civic duty by all citizens of any country and the Commissioner of Police is a co-chairman on election security.
“We have Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (IACCES), comprising Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC), Nigerian Army, Nigerian Navy and Nigerian Air force, among others.
“They are in charge of election security in spite of their differential roles in the country,” he said.
Madami said that the 2019 general election in the state was adjudged as the best in Nigeria.
“The election was free, fair, credible and transparent, and was applauded and accepted by a majority of the people in the state.
“No incidence of violence was reported in over 1,822 polling units of the state. I am proud of the police because security is indispensable for elections in Nigeria.
“We are here today to seek your support in the area of security, not only for the election, but general security of our infrastructure, our personnel and materials in Kwara state. Not just at the headquarters, also at the local government areas.
“We all know that the 2003 election is going to be in February 2023. As far as I am concerned here in Kwara, 2023 is at the corner.
“2022 is going to be a very busy year for INEC. And one of the major challenges of INEC is the issue of security; already as a country, we are facing the issue of security.
“And we all know the kind of politicians who are in this country; already they have started heating the polity.
“That is why I felt that there is a need for me and my management team to come and meet you so that we can start having a strategic plan of action ready.
“We all know that the Electoral Act has been amended this week and it’s waiting for the president assent.
“It is until the president has assented to the Electoral bill before we can come out with a timetable and guideline for election.
“I believe in planning, nothing successfully comes by luck, sometimes luck; but 90 per cent of Kwara state election was due to serious and strategic planning, meticulous planning.
“We all know that in 2019 Kwara was regarded as the best state election in the area of a free, fair credible election.
“In the area of security, we are the first. It was the most peaceful election in the country after Jigawa state. There was no ballot snatching; there was no gunfire, there was nothing.
“So, therefore, I’m pleading with you and your team, to help us fish out all the security criminals that will be a hindrance to our election.
“Let us start nosing around, let us start sneezing around to ensure that we have a credible 2023 election that will be more peaceful and more credible than 2019,” the REC added.
The REC said he would soon call the first IACCES meeting to look at the INEC strategic plan for Kwara.
Madami said the commission has expanded access to polling units across the country.
“It means that the number of polling units has increased in Kwara state. It used to be 1,870, but it is now 2,087.
“So, that means we are going to have more security personnel and I want to say here that the commissioner of police is my co-chairman in the area of security in INEC elections,” he said.
Responding, Assayomo expressed his appreciation for the visit and assured INEC of police continuous support.
The police chief expressed happiness with the synergy and cooperation existing among security agencies in the state.
He agreed with the REC that protection of election materials and personnel are very important, and assured INEC that police would do their best in that regard.
He said armed men would be made available to escort election materials in Ilorin and in all the 16 INEC LGAs offices.
“The buildings where these materials are supposed to be kept we will protect them by armed men,” he said.
Assayomo also said the police would plan towards election day, put heads together and look at the blueprint, and come up with enough personnel to man all the 2,087 polling units.
“We are ready to cooperate and collaborate with you as far as elections are concerned, security is number one.
“Outside election, we are extending our hands to others for credible information to make our job easy,” he added.
Assayomo assured the REC that police would give INEC 100 per cent support for the commission to record resounding success in the 2022 general elections. (NAN)