• Tuesday, June 25, 2024
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Insecurity threatens 2023 general election – INEC

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has released the timetable and schedule of activities for the conduct of the 2023 general election, fixing the Presidential and National Assembly elections to hold on the 25th of February 2023 and the Governorship and State Assembly elections to hold on the 11th of March 2023. However, the current level of insecurity poses a serious threat to the entire process.

Festus Okoye, the National Commissioner of INEC, made the disclosure at the Town Hall meeting organised by the Guild of Editors in Abuja Thursday.

He said that while the country is entering a critical phase in its electoral process, one of the major challenges accompanying it is the issue of heightened insecurity in some states in the country.

“The 2023 general election will come with various economic as well as security challenges and the Commission is determined to surmount these challenges and conduct a free, fair, credible and inclusive election.

“However, electoral voting and the exercise of democratic mandate cannot be the priority of persons enveloped in a climate and atmosphere that is subdued by fear and anxiety,” Okoye said.

He elaborated that while the INEC is determined to register all eligible registrants, the commission will however not expose its staff to unnecessary danger.

He further stated that the growing insecurity in several parts of the country and the increasing number of internally displaced persons will pose challenges to the conduct of the 2023 general election.

“So many internally displaced persons’ are in the houses of friends and relatives and have lost their Permanent Voters Cards and it is next to impossible to recreate their constituencies and polling units.

“This is because section 47(1) of the Electoral Act clearly provides that ‘A person intending to vote in an election shall present himself with his voter’s card to a Presiding Officer for accreditation at the polling unit in the constituency in which his name is registered,” he said.

He indicated that some of these persons are no longer in their constituencies and can no longer access their polling units and so many of them have lost their Permanent Voters Cards.

“While it is easy to recreate constituencies and polling units in clustered camps of Internally Displaced Persons (IDP camps), it is next to impossible to do so for persons staying in scattered locations.

“For the internally displaced, the Commission will print new Permanent Voters Cards for them and recreate their polling units in their camps and they will be eligible to vote in some of the elections depending on their location and their proximity to their State and Federal Constituencies.

“This is in accord with section 24(1) of the Electoral Act, which provides that “In the event of an emergency affecting an election, the Commission shall, as far as practicable, ensure that persons displaced as a result of the emergency are not disenfranchised,” he said.

He explained that in line with section 24, the Commission thus developed regulations and guidelines on IDP voting and will implement the intent of the law and the Regulations and Guidelines.

He further stated that the Commission is currently at the terminal phase of its Continuous Voters Registration Exercise (CVR).

“There are so many communities that are still inaccessible to our registration officers. In the next few weeks, the Commission will roll out modalities for the further devolution and rotation of the CVR to our registration areas and the security of our personnel and the registrants are fundamental to the success of the exercise.

“We will, however, roll out and roll back depending on the security situation in different parts of the country,” Okoye said.

He went further to urge the media to continue to highlight and analyse the causes and possible solutions to the security challenges in the country and continue to hold the government accountable.

According to him, “If the upcoming 2023 general election is going to be successful, the various security agencies must try as much as possible to degrade if not neutralise the security threats and challenges in different parts of the country.”