By Harry Awurumibe, Editor Abuja Bureau
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said the general security situation in the country and its impact on the electoral process is a source of concern to the Commission.
The INEC Chairman Professor Mahmood Yakubu stated this on Friday in his remarks at the Second Quarterly Meeting of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) for the year 2022, held at INEC Conference Room, Abuja.
According to the Chairman, security situation in Nigeria has called for the security agencies to arrest the situation early enough to ensure that the 2023 general elections are conducted in the atmosphere of peace and decorum.
He also said: “We have tasked our Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) to provide basic data on areas of security challenges in their States, including citizens living in Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps”.
The INEC boss however said the Commission is confident that with nine months to the 2023 General Election, there is enough time to respond to the security challenges and secure the nation for elections to take place nationwide.
Speaking further he said: “the Timetable for the election has also been released. Let us not wait until a few weeks to the election before we realise that time is not on our side and begin to seek for extension of timelines. The time to act is now”.
According to him as political parties end their primaries on 3rd June 2022 and candidates emerge, campaign in public by political parties will commence nationwide as provided by the Timetable for the election in line with the provision of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).
Said he: “Going forward, the Commission and security agencies have our work clearly cut out for us”.
He therefore said: “We wish to reassure the security agencies that we will continue to work cooperatively with you to ensure the success of all forthcoming elections and electoral activities”.
Yakubu told the country’s security agencies that one of the documents contained in their folder is the Code of Conduct and Rules of Engagement for Security Personnel on Election Duty which he said will be deliberated upon in the meeting.
He also said the Commission will continue to appreciate the cooperation and support of all members of ICCES “in its determination to conduct peaceful and credible elections”.
“Your support in providing security for the deployment of election materials, the protection of INEC officials, party agents, election observers, journalists and voters make democratic elections and related activities such as the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) possible”, he concluded.
Meanwhile, the National Security Adviser (NSA) and Co-Chair of ICCES,
Major General Babagana Monguno, who spoke on behalf of the Heads of various security organisations, revealed that trouble-makers and election-riggers are in for a shocker in 2023.
Said he; “Already, heads of security and law enforcement agencies have been task to step up close monitoring and profiling of political actors no matter highly placed who exhibit tendencies to subvert the electoral process, even as thugs and their sponsors would equally be trailed for possible arrest and prosecution”.
The NSA however emphasizes the need for INEC to enjoin political parties to consistently abide by prescribed rules as outlined in their respective manifestoes.
According to him, “this is to significantly reduce areas of conflict and ensure a peaceful atmosphere for a hitch free off-cycle and general election”.