…wants Electoral Offences Commission
By Omeiza Ajayi
As a way of reducing violence in future elections in the country, the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC has called for a more strategic deployment of security operatives, taking into consideration the peculiarities of each polling unit.
INEC Chairman and co-Chair of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security ICCES, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, made the call Friday in Abuja at an expanded meeting of the forum.
Yakubu noted that, “while it is the responsibility of the security agencies to secure the environment for the successful conduct of elections, the purpose of security deployment during elections is to protect the voters, election officials and materials, accredited observers, the media and to safeguard the integrity of the processes generally, including the polling units and collations centres”.
Speaking further, he said; “There is more emphasis on numbers of security personnel to be deployed but less consideration on strategic deployment to protect the process, leaving the voters, election officials, party agents, observers, the media and even unarmed security personnel at polling units vulnerable to attacks by thugs and hoodlums.
“Furthermore, there is emphasis on numbers of security personnel but less on synergy, coordination and collaboration among the various security agencies in line with the purpose for which ICCES was established in the first instance. We must adopt a different approach to election security.
“We must translate the new approach to reality in the forthcoming re-run elections such that Nigerians will see a qualitatively different security arrangement. No thugs and hoodlums can be more powerful than the Nigeria Police and other security agencies. It is the failure to act decisively and collaboratively that encourages thuggery and serves as an incentive for bad behaviour,” Yakubu added.
He said though INEC has no power under the law to cancel an election, “it will not proceed with the process in any constituency where the safety of voters, our personnel and materials is threatened as collation of results will not proceed where the collation centres are invaded and that no declaration of winners will be made where Returning Officers are threatened”.
Yakubu said INEC is concluding arrangements for the re-run elections scheduled for Saturday 25th January 2020 in one Senatorial District, 12 Federal Constituencies and 15 State Constituencies.
He explained the rationale behind the decision of ICCES to expand its membership by adding the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC as well as the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission ICPC saying it was due to the dimension which illegal deployment of financial resources to influence the outcome of elections, including vote-buying at polling units on Election Day, has assumed.
He said, “The commission is aware of the imperative of reform of which the review of the electoral legal framework is fundamental. We are working with the National Assembly and all stakeholders in this regard. One critical area of reform is the prosecution of electoral offenders. We shall vigorously pursue the establishment of the Electoral Offences Commission and Tribunal. Unless such decisive measure is taken, the present system of arrest, investigation and prosecution of electoral offenders will remain at best palliative.”
On his part, the National Security Adviser Gen. Babagana Monguno (retd) said the committee has drawn lessons from all the processes of the last elections, starting from the pre-election, the election and the post-election periods.
He insisted that the corrections will reflect in the rerun coming up on 25 January 2020.
He said; “We have a responsibility because the voters have high expectations from us.”
Also, the Inspector General of Police IGP Mohammed Adamu said the police will ensure adequate security in the coming elections.
“Where advice is not taken, it leads to disruption of the election. The lessons learned from the previous elections will help them in future elections. We must find solution to ballot box snatching, violent reaction from electorates. From now onwards, we won’t tolerate that.
“Anyone who comes to disrupt the election, either as security agent or as an INEC official, the moment you are identified, we will take you out of the system. The same thing with the politicians. If we don’t do that, there will be problems,” Adamu said.
The meeting was attended by the National Security Adviser (NSA) and co-Chair of ICCES, Mohammed Babagana Monguno; Chairman, Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Prof, Bolaji Owasanoye; Director-General, State Security Service (SSS), Yusuf Magaji Bichi; Inspector General of Police (IGP) Mohammed Adamu, a representative of the acting Chairman, EFCC; and representatives of the service chiefs and paramilitary service chiefs among others.