INEC Expresses Concern over Conduct of Security Agencies During Presidential Polls

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•To conduct supplementary election March 9, decries rape, harassment of staff

By Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja

The Independent National Electoral Commission has expressed serious concern over the conduct of certain members of the security agencies in some states during last week’s presidential and National Assembly elections.

The electoral body has also decided that supplementary elections would be conducted in all areas where elections did not take place or where returns could not be made on Saturday, 9th March alongside the Governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections.

INEC National Commissioner and Chairman Voter Education and Publicity, Barr. Festus Okoye, disclosed this in a statement issued Friday, where the commission also decried high level of violence that characterised last week’s election.

Okoye said these decisions were taken during the meeting INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, held with Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) on Thursday to review the Presidential and National Assembly Elections held on Saturday, 23th February, while also assessing preparations for the Governorship, State Houses of Assembly and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Area Council Elections slated for Saturday, 9th March 2019.

He stressed that the meeting acknowledged the delays in the commencement of elections in a number of polling units which necessitated the extension of the closing of polls in the affected areas, adding that the Commission was determined to rectify the identified challenges before the elections on 9th March.

Okoye stated, “The meeting noted a number of cancellations in certain areas due to violence, which prevented the Commission from deploying personnel and materials for the elections in a number of locations, it could not conclude the elections due to disruptions and deliberate non-compliance with the use of the Smart Card Reader (SCR), contrary to the INEC Regulations and Guidelines for the conduct of elections.

“Consequently, the meeting decided that supplementary elections will be conducted in all areas where elections did not take place or where returns could not be made on Saturday, 9th March 2019 alongside the Governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections.

“The meeting also assessed the role of security agencies in the elections. While acknowledging their professionalism in the deployment of election personnel and materials in a safe and timely manner, the conduct of certain members of the security agencies in some states is a matter of serious concern to the Commission.

“This matter will be further discussed directly with the Inspector General of Police within the ambit of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) in preparation for the Governorship, State Houses of Assembly and PCT Area Council elections,” he stated.

The commission noted that although the elections were generally peaceful, the meeting observed and decried the high level of violence in a few places, which regrettably led to fatalities in some States, in addition to the subjugation of some of its officials to threats, harassment, intimidation, assault, abduction and even rape.

The Commission however condoled with the families of its ad-hoc staff who lost their lives while on this national assignment, as well as other Nigerians who died in the course of the elections. It also expresses its deep regrets to and sympathy for all victims of this mindless violence. We stand with them in these difficult times.

Okoye stressed that the RECs were directed to submit comprehensive reports of these incidents to the Commission for appropriate action.

The Commission expressed satisfaction with the level of preparedness and the deployments of sensitive and non-sensitive materials scheduled for delivery to the Registration Area Centres (RACS) on Friday, 8th March for the Governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections.