By Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
Following the recent escalation of Boko Haram insurgency in Borno State, that has led to the burning down of some villages and even loss of lives, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said that it will make a decision on the security risk involved in the said registration areas and local governments at the appropriate time.
The electoral body said it is also working in consultation and collaboratively with the Inter Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security and the National and State Emergency Management Agencies in mapping out the Local Governments, Registration Areas and Polling Units that are problematic.
INEC National Commissioner and Chairman Information and Voter Education Committee, Mr. Festus Okoye, disclosed this in an e-mail while reacting to THISDAY enquiry.
He stressed that though, the commission was aware of the security challenges in the North-east, the North Central and indeed in several parts of Nigeria, but assured that INEC will conduct the 2019 elections in all parts of the country including States that are facing serious security challenges.
Okoye said that the commission will in compliance with section 29(3) of the Electoral Act, 2010(as amended) and for the purposes of securing the vote, be responsible for requesting for the deployment of relevant security personnel necessary for election.
He stated, “We assure the Nigerian people that adequate security will be in place before, during and after the elections.
“In other words, the 2019 elections will take place in all Polling units, Registration Areas, Local Governments and States unless it is practically impossible to conduct elections in such places.
“The Commission is aware of security challenges in some Local Governments across the federation and will make a determination on the security risk involved in the said Registration Areas and Local Governments at the appropriate time.
“The Commission is aware that so many Nigerians are internally displaced and are in various camps and in the houses of relatives. consequently, the Commission has set up a Committee to work out the modalities and parameters for IDP voting in the 2019 elections,” he added.
Okoye explained that this is in conformity with section 26(1) of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) which provides that in the event of any emergency affecting an election, the INEC shall as far as possible, ensure that persons displaced as a result of the emergency are not disenfranchised.
He also revealed that the Chairman of INEC will in the coming weeks visit some IDP camps for on the spot assessment of their voting strength and parameters for securing and guaranteeing their votes.
The National Commissioner pointed out that the timelines for the conduct of elections are constitutionally and legally circumscribed, stressing that INEC is determined to conduct the 2019 elections within the timeframe provided in the Constitution.
“It is therefore not constitutionally and legally possible or permissible to postpone the 2019 elections. Some of the security challenges in Nigeria are isolated to some Registration Areas and Local Governments and the Commission has measures in place to ensure that people affected by insecurity in some of the Local Governments are not disenfranchised.”