The Independent National Electoral Commission ((INEC) Hold emergency meeting, vow to resist separatists plans to scuttle poll – NSA assures Golden Dawn military operation will restore peace in South East
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the National Security Adviser (NSA) have expressed concerns over what it described as the deteriorating security situation in Anambra State ahead of the November 6 governorship election.
The Chairman of the Commission, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, who raised the alarm during an emergency meeting with the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) held on Tuesday, in Abuja, emphasised that various security reports have confirmed that the prime motive of the attackers is to scuttle the election.
He further noted that the adhoc staff on election duty, comprising members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) and undergraduates, need strong assurances of their safety during and after the election.
‘You would recall that during our last quarterly meeting held on September 9, 2021, we received briefings and reviewed preparations for the forthcoming Anambra State governorship election.
You may also recall that a major concern raised by members was the security situation in the state in particular and the adjoining States in general and how this might affect preparations and possibly the conduct of the election.
‘Unfortunately, the situation has deteriorated markedly since our last meeting. Many innocent lives have been lost and property destroyed.
From the reports we have received, the stated goal of many of the attackers is that the governorship election scheduled for November 6 must not hold. This is worrisome for the Commission.
‘We are deeply concerned that specific electoral facilities and materials could once more become targets of attack.
Recall that in May this year, our state office in Awka was attacked and all the non-sensitive materials assembled for the election at the time were destroyed.
In addition, our store, collation centre and the main office building were either totally or substantially damaged. The Commission also lost several vehicles to be used for the election.
‘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 neighbouring States.
However, should we again lose vital materials and facilities, the ongoing preparations will be adversely affected,’ he said.
Commenting on the safety of the adhoc staff, the election management boss, said: ‘The Commission is particularly concerned about the safety of voters and Election Day staff, including security officials who have also become the targets of these attacks.
‘The thousands of young Nigerians that we intend to deploy for the election, most of them corps members and university students, need to be reassured of their personal safety.
At the same time, deployment for the election will involve the movement of huge consignments of sensitive and non-sensitive materials to the 21 Local Government Areas of the State, 326 Wards or Registration Areas and 5,720 Polling Units.
‘That means over 6,000 locations to be protected. If we add that to about 26,000 officials that will be deployed for the election, we begin to appreciate the magnitude of the challenge of securing the Anambra governorship election which is only thirty-two (32) days from today,’ he said.
While expressing more concerns, Prof Mahmood noted: ‘Perhaps, never before in our history has the importance of election security in a governorship election been this urgent.
The Commission is aware that this is by no means an easy task. We appreciate the enormous challenges that the security agencies are presently facing in Anambra State, which entail not only securing the electoral process, but also enforcing law and order generally.
This is particularly worrisome because the security agencies have also become prime targets of these mindless attacks.
‘It is in the light of these recent and seemingly escalating threats to the election that the Commission has convened this emergency meeting.
We will continue to work with the security agencies and in consultation with respected opinion leaders in Anambra State and the National Peace Committee to ensure that these hit-and-run attacks do not derail the electoral process.
‘We wish to assure the people of Anambra State that the Commission is determined to proceed with the election as scheduled.
To underscore this determination, the Commission is implementing two more activities on the timetable for the election in the next few days.
The register of voters will be presented to political parties in Awka on Thursday. On the same day, the Commission will publish the final list of candidates for the election.
‘We are confident that at the end of this meeting, we will firm up on specific measures necessary to further guarantee the safety of all persons involved in the election from the voters, election officials, observers, media organisations and the security of election materials,’ he assured.
In his comment, the NSA, Babagana Monguno, equally reiterated the commitment of the federal government to crush the activities of the separatist groups.
Represented by Sanusi Galadima, during the emergency meeting, he said: ‘As we are all aware the Anambra State governorship Election, is barely one month away and the security threat posed by violent activities of separatist groups in the South East region are bent on scuffling the election in the state in furtherance of their separatist agenda.
Undoubtedly, this constitute a clear and present danger to the nation democratic process and consolidation.
‘I wish to state that ONSA, is working assiduously with relevant security and intelligence agencies towards arresting the foregoing ugly trend and other associated security challenges in the South-East zone and beyond.
‘This determination of the presidency is already been translated into action by the recent joint Military operation code-named “Golden Dawn” in the South-East as well as other security operations across the country.
‘This is in addition to the increasing collaboration between the federal and South East Governors towards addressing the underlying socio economic drivers of insecurity in the region.
‘Once again, ONSA wish to reiterate the federal government commitment for the protection of lives and property of all law abiding citizens before during and after the elections, while, finally calling on all peace-loving Nigerians of the South East extraction to join hands with constituted authority to promote peace and development across the region and beyond,’ he appealed.
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