Chuks Okocha in Abuja
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday said that the military would not be involved at the polling boot security, except on the invitation of the lead security agency, the Nigeria Police.
Consequently, said the commission, the military would only patrol as a standby force in case of trouble beyond the control of the internal security forces.
The commission clarified that the Nigeria Navy and the Nigeria Air Force have been selected for a special duty of airlifting sensitive electoral materials and protection of the INEC staff in Bayelsa State, but ruled out their presence of the Nigeria army completely within the polling areas.
INEC said that the Nigeria Police shall be in charge of all security issues during the two elections on November 16.
The position of INEC was disclosed to THISDAY by the INEC National Commissioner in charge of Information and Voter Education, Mr. Festus Okoye.
When asked whether the military would be involved during the two governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa States, he said no, emphatically.
Later he sent a written position of the commission titled: “The Army and Bayelsa and Kogi Governorship Elections” to THISDAY.
The document says: “The Nigerian Police is the Lead Agency coordinating election security operations.
“The Nigerian Police Force and other security agencies have presented their deployment template to the Inter Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security Co-Chaired by the Chairman of INEC and the National Security Adviser and it has been adopted and approved.
“A rainbow coalition of unarmed security personnel will be deployed in the inner cordon of the polling units. Armed Mobile Police Officers will patrol the outer cordon of the polling units while a combined team of armed security personnel will protect critical national assets, the Registration Area Centers, INEC offices at the Local Governments and INEC State Offices.
“In accordance with section 29(3) of the Electoral Act, 2010(as amended), the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC) has requested the assistance of the Nigerian Navy to assist with gunboat’s to protect electoral officials and personnel on the high seas especially in the riverine areas of Bayelsa State.
“The Nigerian Air Force will also assist in airlifting electoral materials for the commission to far distances and difficult topography.
“However, it is within the remit of the lead agency on election security to request for further assistance of other security agencies based on its assessment of the security situation in each state of the federation.
“Let me point out that election security operations must be separated from existing deployment of the Nigerian military for internal security operations in some states of the federation. It is a matter of common knowledge that in some states, the Nigerian military are permanently deployed for internal security operations.
“The commission has absolutely nothing to do with the internal security duties and operations of the Nigerian Armed Forces.
“The main political forces in the two states have a duty, a responsibility and obligation to create a serene ambience that enables duly registered and willing voters to cast their votes with dignity and civility. Heightened tension, threats of breakdown of law and order, unwholesome electoral practices and negative narratives will cast a dark shadow on the elections and disengage the voters from the electoral process.”