2023 Poll: INEC again assures heads of ICCES to work collectively with security agencies

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By Joy Odor

As all the 2023 General Election bears on the national security agencies, the lndependent National Electroal Commission (INEC) has re-assure it commitment to continue to work co-operatively with them to ensure the success of all forthcoming elections and electoral activities.

The INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu gave the assurance during his welcome address at the Regular Quarterly Meeting of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee (ICCES) in Abuja on Friday.

The INEC Chairman opined that the  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 affirmed that the general security situation in the country and its impact on the electoral process is a source of concern to the Commission, adding that INEC is confident that with the 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.

Professor Yakubu tasked its Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) to provide basic data on areas of security challenges in their States.

According to him, those include citizens living in Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps, explaining that the idea is to harvest the data as a basis for further engagement with the security agencies as well as devising the best way to provide electoral services to all Nigerians under all circumstances.

The INEC Chairman maintained that the Commission would continue to appreciate the cooperation and support of all members of ICCES in the determination to conduct peaceful and credible elections.

“The Commission will continue to appreciate the cooperation and support of all members of ICCES in our 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.

“Even as we prepare for the 2023 General Election, the Commission is also preparing for two off-cycle Governorship elections in Ekiti State on 18th June 2022 and in Osun State on 16th July 2022. Furthermore, we have pending bye-elections in 18 constituencies across the country involving three Senatorial Districts, one Federal Constituency (i.e. House of Representatives seat) and 14 State Constituencies (i.e. House of Assembly seats). In addition, 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). Going forward, the Commission and security agencies have our work clearly cut out for us.

“The general security situation in the country and its impact on the electoral process is a source of concern to the Commission. However, we are 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. 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. 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.

“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. Our idea is to harvest the data as a basis for further engagement with the security agencies as well as devising the best way to provide electoral services to all Nigerians under all circumstances.

“As you are all aware, a number of developments have taken place since our last meeting. For instance, with the coming into force of the Electoral Act 2022, there are roles and responsibilities required of all involved in elections, especially in the areas of voter accreditation and result management in particular and election administration in general. All these have bearing on election security. We therefore need a clear understanding of some of these responsibilities under the new law. For this reason, there will be a presentation on voter registration and data clean up by the ICT Department. We have also included in your folders for this meeting a number of documents for your information and discussion. One of the documents is the Code of Conduct and Rules of Engagement for Security Personnel on Election Duty. Prepared on the eve of the 2019 General Election and reviewed in response to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, a further review will be necessary in view of the new Electoral Act and current security challenges” he noted.

In his response, the National Security Adviser (NSA), Retired General Babagana Monguno noted with utmost concern, the growing uncertainty heralding the conduct of party primaries for 2023 elections.

General Monguno who was represented by Sanusi Galadima said this is in addition to the unabated spate of violence that threatened the upcoming off cycle gubernatorial elections in Ekiti and Osun States, arising from internal party wranglings, increasing acrimony and bickering amongst political actors as well as the inability of various contending political blocs to amicably resolves differences in line with democratic tenants.

The NSA commended the efforts of the Chairman of INEC and his management team for articulating a comprehensive Election Project Plan for the forthcoming 2023, general election including a five (5) year strategic action plan (2022-2026).

“The foregoing innovations will undoubtedly deepen Nigeria’s electoral management System including Election Security Management framework as well as the entire nation democratic process.

“However, the NSA has noted with utmost concern, the growing uncertainty heralding the conduct of party primaries for 2023 elections. This is in addition to the unabated spate of violence that threatened the upcoming off cycle gubernatorial elections in Ekiti and Osun States, arising from internal party wranglings, increasing acrimony and bickering amongst political actors as well as the inability of various contending political blocs to amicably resolves differences in line with democratic tenants.

“Consequently, the above disturbing development has already culminated in intense power play capable of heightening unnecessary political tension across the country. More worrisome is the unguarded utterances of some highly respected individuals and groups which more often than not amplifies divisive narratives to the detriment of national security and stability.

“Accordingly, 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.
5. Finally, the NSA, emphasizes the need for INEC to enjoin political parties to consistently abide by prescribed rules as outlined in their respective manifestoes. This is to significantly reduce areas of conflict and ensure a peaceful atmosphere for a hitch free off-cycle and general election” NSA ended.

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