BusinessDay

2023: Nine months enough to secure the nation for election – INEC

...as NSA directs heads of security agencies to profile political actors

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has expressed confidence that with nine months to the 2023 general poll, there is enough time to respond to the security challenges and secure the nation for elections to take place nationwide.

Mahmood Yakubu, INEC chairman said this at the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) in Abuja on Friday.

Yakubu also expressed concern over the general security situation in the country and its impact on the electoral process

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. 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 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.

“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 that is House of Representatives seat and 14 State Constituencies, that is House of Assembly seats.

“In addition, as political parties end their primaries on 3rd June 2022 and candidates emerge, campaigns 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,” he stated.

Read also: INEC chair, Yakubu won’t contest 2023 presidency – Spokesman

The INEC chairman asked 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.

He said: “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.”

Mohammed Monguno, National Security Adviser (NSA) said heads of security and law enforcement agencies have been tasked to step up close monitoring and profiling of political actors no matter highly placed who exhibit tendencies to subvert the electoral process.

Represented by Sanusi Galadima, the NSA disclosed that thugs and their sponsors would equally be trailed for possible arrest and prosecution.

He also expressed concern over the growing uncertainty heralding the conduct of party primaries for 2023 elections.

The NSA said: “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.”

He emphasised the need for INEC to enjoin political parties to consistently abide by prescribed rules as outlined in their respective manifestoes, to significantly reduce areas of conflict and ensure a peaceful atmosphere for a hitch free off-cycle and general election.

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