- NSA raises the alarm over electoral violence
Chuks Okocha in Abuja
To address issues bothering on security during elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has advocated that the deployment of security personnel in all future elections should be tied to specific locations and activities.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, made the call at the Commission’s Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) meeting yesterday in Abuja.
This is coming as the National Security Adviser (NSA), Babagana Mungonu, said if nothing is done to tackle violence during elections, it may result in voter apathy in the country.
Yakubu stated that all security personnel deployed to polling units and collation centres should be identified by name as was the case with INEC officials.
According to him, “This will not only enhance transparency, but the Commission and security agencies will know who to contact in specific locations during elections when the need arises.
“They will also be held responsible for the proper conduct of elections in those locations.
“The Inspector-General of Police (IG) has assured the Commission that this new approach to the deployment of security personnel will be piloted in the court-ordered re-run elections taking place next month.”
Yakubu said the Commission believed that the purpose of security deployment during elections was to protect the voters, election officials and materials.
In his remarks, the National Security Adviser and Co-chair of ICCES, Maj-Gen. Babagana Monguno (rtd), decried the violence during the Kogi and Bayelsa States governorship elections in spite the level of preparedness and promises made by security agencies.
Monguno, represented by Mr. Sanusi Galadima, said the violence, including the death of the PDP Women Leader of Ochadamu Ward in Ofu Local Government Area of Kogi State, Mrs. Salome Abuh, who was murdered in her house on November 18 in a post-election violence, was unthinkable.
He said all stakeholders, such as security agencies and political parties, must come together and ensure that future elections, including the January court-ordered polls, were peaceful.
“Our fears are that if nothing is done to curtail violence, in future elections, voters may not come out to vote,” he said.
On his part, the IG, Mohammed Adamu, disclosed that some arrests were already made in connection with the violence recorded during the November 16 governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa States.
Adamu said about 25 electoral suspects were arrested in Bayelsa State and were being investigated at the Zonal Command headquarters in Benin-city, adding that once investigation is complete, they would be charged to court.
“In Kogi State, a total of 35, 200 as against 31,000 security agents in Bayelsa State were deployed for the same assignment,” he added.
Present at the meeting were representatives of the Nigeria Army, Nigeria Navy, National Security and Civil Defence Corps, Nigeria Customs Service, Nigeria Immigration Service, Federal Fire Service, National Intelligence Agency among others.