By Joseph Erunke
ABUJA—CHAIRMAN of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Prof. Attahiru Jega, Monday, engaged heads of security agencies in a marathon meeting aimed at ensuring the success of the forth coming general elections.
The strategic meeting, which media men were barred from covering, Vanguard gathered, was to specifically fashion out modalities that could guarantee the smooth conduct of the elections, especially the March 28 presidential election, which is causing panic and apprehension in some quarters on the likelihood of its outcome.
It was gathered that that the routine meeting called Inter-agency Consultative Committee on Election Security,ICCES, met specifically to review the technical operations and planning towards the general elections.
The ICCES is usually chaired by the National Security Adviser, NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd) with the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Prof. Attahiru Jega, as co-chairman.
Others are representatives of the Defence Headqurters, DHQ, Army, Air Force, Navy, Federal Road Safety Corps,FRSC, Directorate of State Service, DSS, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Commission, NSCDC, Customs Service, Immigration Service, Fire Service and Nigeria Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA.
Yesterday’s meeting was the first since the postponement of the February elections. The elections will now hold on March 28 and April 11.
It was gathered that the meeting considered all operational aspects involved in the coming elections and also areas that needed to be strengthened.
Mr Kayode Idowu, Chief Press Secretary to INEC chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, who confirmed the meeting to Vanguard, however, said it was a routine one.
“The meeting was to evaluate the environment. Incidentally, this level is not a policy thing; this meeting is operational meeting, which is to plan, of course, for the election,” he said.
In a related development, INEC has said that immediate-past National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, members would still be engaged for the election duties.
Their participation according to INEC was due to the previous training they undergone.
He said despite not being under the NYSC, the Commission was still disposed to engaging the ex-corps members for the election duties.
He said NYSC had earlier “kept these people in camps because of the election. But now that there is a shift, there is no basis for you to keep on holding them in camps. Yes, they kept them in camp for INEC because of the election and when the elections are rescheduled, you can’t hold them in camps for six week.
“The youth service themselves, as many as have been trained and are available to take up the job for which they have been trained, they would still be there.Those that were trained and have passed out, as many as they are there, they would still be engaged. They have been trained for the job,” he added
Asked on the implication of engaging the youth since they are no longer under the scheme, he said “They are the same people who were recently in the NYSC. The only difference is that because of the time of the rescheduling, they are no longer in camp for the NYSC.”