By Lateef Ibrahim
With 58 days to next year’s general election, the Independent National Electoral Commission says it has already implemented six (6) out the fourteen (14) activities strictly on schedule as outlined in the timetable and schedule of activities for the General Election.
The Commission assured that it has gone far with its preparations.
The Chairman of INEC, Prof Mahmood Yakubu said this yesterday in his remarks at the Police/stakeholders security summit organized by the
Nigeria Police Force in Abuja.
Yakubu pointed out that as with all elections, security is going to be a major issue in the 2019 General Election.
He declared that security agencies have a responsibility to secure the environment for elections.
According to him, “We have already implemented six (6) out the fourteen (14) activities strictly on schedule as outlined in the timetable and schedule of activities for the General Election which was release almost a year ago on 9th January this year.
“There is intense interest nationally and around the world in the 2019 General Election. In just a matter of weeks, some international observers will begin the deployment of their long-term observation missions for the election.
“As with all elections, security is going to be a major issue in the 2019 General Election.
“Security agencies have a responsibility to secure the environment for elections.
“In doing so, there is the overriding responsibility for professionalism and neutrality. The rules of engagement must be clear to all.
“Learning from the cumulative experience of the off-season elections conducted into 195 constituencies since the 2015 General Election, the conduct of some security personnel has become a major issue of discussion. We are deeply concerned.
“Consequently, it is imperative to review the template for the 2019 General Election in order to reassure Nigerians and the international community of our commitment to credible elections and to protect the sanctity of the electoral process.
“INEC will engage with the security agencies, particularly the police, in defining new parameters for the deployment of security agencies in
the electoral process.
“As I said at a recent Workshop on election security organised by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), INEC shall fully apply the provision of Section 29(3) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) which places in the Commission the sole responsibility for requesting the deployment of security personnel necessary for elections.
“The responsibility for assigning them is also to be determined by the Commission. INEC will remain responsible for the conduct of elections.
“The security agencies will continue to secure the environment in a manner that voters, observers and the media shall not feel intimidated or harassed.
“The process of conducting election shall remain the responsibility of INEC. We will continue to emphasise this point in our interaction with the security agencies both in a forum such as this as well as the meetings of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCESS).
“Similarly, we shall continue to work with the security agencies for the arrest and prosecution of violators of the electoral act.
“Working together with the police, we have successfully prosecuted 42 electoral offenders following violent disruption of the Minjibir State Constituency bye-election in Kano in 2016.
“Similarly, a number of other prosecutions are ongoing in Rivers State and most recently in Osun State where the police has forwarded nine (9) case files to the Commission, out of which three (3) cases involving vote buying and illegal possession of PVCs are being prosecuted.”
INEC believes that the best deterrence to violations of the law during elections is swift prosecution. We will continue to work with the security agencies in this regard”.