By Omeiza Ajayi
ABUJA – The Independent National Electoral Commission INEC has tasked the Nigerian Police and other security agencies in the country on adherence to the provisions of the Electoral Act, cautioning them against giving Nigerians the impression that the agencies have their separate security arrangement outside of those sanctioned by the commission.
Chairman of the commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu gave the charge Wednesday in Abuja at the opening of the regular quarterly consultative meeting of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security ICCES.
He said; “learning from the experience 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 Nigeria Police Force remains the lead agency for election security. Other security agencies will play a supportive role to the Nigeria Police.
“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 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”.
Accordingly, Yakubu said the meeting would discuss modalities for actualizing the provisions of the law.
“In particular, we are committed to ensuring that elections are organized in such a manner that the security agencies are not perceived to be running parallel arrangement with INEC. Rather, it should strictly be INEC’s plan for the election that should be implemented”, he counselled.
The meeting was convened primarily to update members of ICCES on the commission’s preparations for the 2019 General Elections, while also providing an opportunity to hear from the security agencies on their preparations so far.