AHEAD of the November 16 governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has warned the nation that political parties are already mobilising thugs for the process.
The chairman of the commission, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, raised the alarm on Friday at the commission’s quarterly consultative meeting with heads of security agencies.
In attendance at the meeting were the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu and the National Security Adviser, Mohammed Babagana Monguno, who was represented by Sanusi Galadima.
Professor Yakubu, who was silent on the political parties involved in the call to arms, however, assured the electorate in the two states that the electoral body, in conjunction with security chiefs, had identified the flashpoints.
He said: “There are already warning signals in the two states. Both are politically volatile. Elections have been severally disrupted by violence in the past. Our own risk assessment which will be shared with the security agencies at this meeting has identified some flashpoints.
“We are also concerned that thugs have been mobilised from within and outside the states with the aim of either influencing the elections or disrupting the process on behalf of partisan sponsors. This calls for a robust response before the elections, on Election Day and during the process of collation and declaration of results.
“Nigerians expect that by now, we have learnt enough lessons from previous elections to ensure a swift security response to the increasing desperation by political actors to disrupt elections and subvert the will of the electorate. If that happens, many Nigerians will blame the electoral umpire and the security agencies. We must continue to rise to this challenge.
“On our part, INEC is committed to the integrity of the process. Over the last seven months, we have been working assiduously to ensure that we conduct credible elections. We cannot undermine the processes we have so laboriously established. We are equally confident in the assurances we have received from the security agencies of civil and professional conduct by their personnel deployed for the elections. We have been reassured by the security agencies that Election Day activities at polling units and collation centres will not be disrupted by the activities of hoodlums neither will thugs be allowed to cart away results sheets or compel our Returning Officers to make declarations under duress.
“We are equally reassured that security personnel will adhere strictly to the standard operational guidelines and deal decisively with misconduct by their personnel on election duty. We are equally confident that with the sheer number of personnel the security agencies are deploying in the two states, there can be no excuse for the processes to be undermined by anti democratic elements.”
Towards updating the stakeholders on the commission’s preparations for logistics for the elections, INEC chairman, Professor Yakubu disclosed that another round of meetings had been fixed for November 7 and 11 in Lokoja and Yenagoa, respectively.
“We shall continue to engage with stakeholders to ensure peaceful and credible polls. On Thursday, 7th November 2019, the commission is organising another meeting with stakeholders in Bayelsa State to be followed by another meeting on Monday, 11th November, 2019 in Kogi State.
“We will be joined by the Inspector-General of Police, the Director General of NYSC and representatives of all the security agencies to listen to the concerns of stakeholders and fine-tune our plans in full consultation with the stakeholders,” he said.
Also at the meeting, which later dissolved into closed-door sessions, were the Resident Electoral Commissioners of Kogi and Bayelsa states.
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