By Joy Odor
The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmood Yakubu has expressed concerned on the safety of voters, election duty staff and security officials during Anambra Governorship election but vowed that elections hold as scheduled on 6th November 2021.
He stated this at an emergency meeting of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES), held on Tuesday at the INEC headquarters in Abuja.
Prof. Yakubu recalled that the Commission’s State Office in Awka was attacked in May, resulting in the destruction of all non-sensitive materials assembled for the governorship election, store, collation centre and main office building were totally or substantially damaged, in addition to the loss of several vehicles used for electoral activities.
INEC chairman opined that from the reports the Commission had received, the stated goal of many of the attackers was for the Anambra governorship election not to hold. He regretted that the security situation in the State had worsened since the last ICCES meeting held on 9th September 2021, with many lives lost and property destroyed.
“This is worrisome for the Commission,” he said. “We are deeply concerned that specific electoral facilities and materials could once more become targets of attack.”
He said: “Happily, we have almost fully recovered from that attack. The destroyed buildings have either been completely repaired or are nearing completion, and we have fully replaced the materials destroyed.
“This rapid recovery has only been possible because this is an off-season election. We have sourced some of these materials, such as the 326 electric generators and vehicles destroyed in the attack from the neighbouring states. However, should we again lose vital materials and facilities, the ongoing preparations will be adversely affected.”
Prof. Yakubu acknowledged the challenges currently facing security agencies in Anambra, which entail not only securing the electoral process but also enforcing law and order generally, maintaining that security agents had become prime targets of the mindless attacks while carrying out their official duties.
Professor Mahmood therefore said two more activities on the Timetable for the election would be implemented in the coming days, the presentation of Register of Voters to political parties in Awka on Thursday 7th October 2021 anf publication of the final list of candidates for the election.
He assured that the Commission would continue to work with security agencies, respected opinion leaders in the State and the National peace Committee to ensure that the hit-and-run attacks do not derail the electoral process.
In his remark, thee National Security Adviser (NSA), Major General Babagana Monguno (Rtd) reiterated the Federal Government’s commitment to the protection of lives and property of all law-abiding citizens before, during and after the election.
Represented by Mr Sanusi Galadima, the NSA said the violent activities of separatist groups in the South East region constituted a clear and present danger to the nation’s democratic process in the region.
He affirmed that his office is working with relevant security and intelligence agencies towards arresting the ugly trend and other associated challenges in the region and beyond.