By Chimezie Godfrey
The Independent National Electoral Commission INEC has reassured security agencies of cooperation to ensure the success of all forthcoming elections in the country.
The INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu gave the assurance at the second quarterly meeting of the Inter-agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) for the year2022, held on Friday in Abuja.
Prof Yakubu noted that the commission will continue to appreciate the cooperation and support of all members of ICCES in their determination to conduct peaceful and credible elections.
He noted that the support of ICCES 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 therefore said that the Commission will cooperate with the security agencies to ensure the success of forthcoming elections.
He said,”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 realize 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.”
The INEC also disclosed that they have tasked Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) to provide basic data on areas of security challenges.
“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 said.