By Mark A. Upaa
The Nigerian Electoral body (INEC) is scheduled to hold the presidential and National Assembly elections on February 16. Governorship and Houses of Assembly elections will hold on March 2. The commissions chairman Prof. Mahmood Yakabu, who spoke yesterday during the Regular Consultative meeting of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES).
ICCES include the security agencies and INEC. The committee oversees the security of both personnel and materials during and after elections. It is co-chair by the commission chairman and the National Security Adviser.
Yakubu, who expressed his displeasure with the uncoordinated approach, from previous elections, distanced himself and the electoral umpire from any acts which make it looks as if the security agencies are running a parallel or seperate arrangement from that of the commission.
The INEC chairman, who informed the various representatives of the security agencies of the INEC level of preparedness for the elections, said the meeting shall discuss modalities for actualising the provision of the law as it relates to deployment of security personnel. He said;
“However, we need a new security architecture for 2019 consistent with the provision of section 29(3) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), which provides as follows: ‘Notwithstanding the provisions of any other law and for the purposes of securing the vote, the commission shall be responsible for requesting for the deployment of relevant security personnel necessary for elections or registration of voters and shall assign them in a manner to be determined by the commission in consultation with the relevant security agencies. “Provided that the commission shall only request for the deployment of the Nigerian Armed Forces only for the purposes of securing the distribution and delivery of election materials and protection of election officials.”
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has urged the Nigerian Police and other security agencies in the country to adhere strictly to the provisions of the Electoral Act, and avoid giving Nigerians the impression that the purpose of using security operatives to safeguard the process is to aid and abet rigging or manipulation. He stated that their is no separate security arrangements outside of those sanctioned by the commission.
Yakubu added that learning from the experiences of some of the 195 off-season elections conducted since 2015, that it was seeking a different approach to the deployment of security forces during the 2019 polls. Yakubu said, “Learning from the experiences of some of the 195 off-season elections conducted since 2015, it is pertinent to draw our attention to the need for a different approach to the deployment of security forces during elections. The Nigerian Police Force remains the lead agency for election security. Other security agencies will play a supportive role to the Nigerian Police.”