By Harry Awurumibe, Editor Abuja Bureau
Notwithstanding the deteriorating security situation in the South East especially in Anambra state ahead of the November 6 Governorship Election, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has vowed that the election must hold as scheduled.
This is even as the Office of the Security Adviser (ONSA) has assured Anambraians and the people of the South East region that it is working assiduously with relevant security and intelligence agencies towards arresting the spate of insecurity in the South-East zone and beyond.
The assurance that the Anambra governorship election which is barely one month away will still hold was given by INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu in his remarks at an Emergency Meeting of Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security
(ICCES) held at the INEC Conference Room, Abuja on Tuesday.
Prof. Yakubu told the meeting attended by Heads of Nigeria’s Security Agencies including military and para-military arms led by the Vice-Chairman and the National Security Adviser (NSA), Major-General Babagana Monguno (Rtd) that security situation in Anambra state has deteriorated to a frightening point hence he called for the emergence meeting.
Said he: “Perhaps never before in our history has the importance of election security in a Governorship election been this urgent. The Commission is aware that this is by no means an easy task. We appreciate the enormous challenges that the security agencies are presently facing in Anambra State, which entail not only securing the electoral process, but also enforcing law and order generally. This is particularly worrisome because the security agencies have also become prime targets of these mindless attacks”.
He also said; “the Commission is particularly concerned about the safety of voters and Election Day staff, including security officials who have also become the targets of these attacks especially the thousands of young Nigerians that we intend to deploy for the election, most of them National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members and university students, need to be reassured of their personal safety.
“At the same time, deployment for the election will involve the movement of huge consignments of sensitive and non-sensitive materials to the 21 Local Government Areas of the State, 326 Wards or Registration Areas and 5,720 Polling Units. That means over 6,000 locations to be protected. If we add that to about 26,000 officials that will be deployed for the election, we begin to appreciate the magnitude of the challenge of securing the Anambra Governorship election which is only thirty-two (32) days from today”.
The INEC boss said: ” It is in the light of these recent and seemingly escalating threats to the election that the Commission has convened this emergency meeting”, adding that “We will continue to work with the security agencies and in consultation with respected opinion leaders in Anambra State and the National Peace Committee to ensure that these hit-and-run attacks do not derail the electoral process”.
Prof. Yakubu however assured the people of Anambra State that the Commission is determined to proceed with the election as scheduled, adding that: “to underscore this determination, the Commission is implementing two more activities on the Timetable for the election in the next few days. The register of voters will be presented to political parties in Awka on Thursday 7th October 2021. On the same day, the Commission will publish the final list of candidates for the election.
In his remarks, the NSA who was represented at the meeting by Sanusi Galadinma said: “I wish to state that ONSA, is working assiduously with relevant security and intelligence agencies towards arresting the foregoing ugly trend and other associated security challenges in the South-East zone and beyond. This determination of the presidency is already been translated into action by the recent joint Military operation code-named “Golden Dawn” in the South-East as well as other security operations across the country.
“This is in addition to the increasing collaboration between the Federal and South-East Governors towards addressing the underlying socio economic drivers of insecurity in the region.
“ONSA wish to reiterate the Federal Government commitment for the protection of lives and property of all law abiding citizens before during and after the elections, while, finally calling on all peace loving Nigerians of the South-East extraction to join hands with constituted authority to promote peace and development across the region and beyond”.
Others who attended the meeting on representative level are Chief of Defence Staff, Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Air Staff, Chief of Naval Staff and Minister of Police Affairs.
Others represented at the meeting include Heads of ICPC, NDLEA, NCS, FRSC, etc.