“As with all elections, security is going to be a major issue in 2019. Security agencies have a responsibility to secure the environment for elections.”
Romanus Ugwu, Abuja and Laide Raheem, Abeokuta
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has admitted that security will be a major concern during the 2019 general election, with a call to security agents that will be involved in electoral duty to ensure professionalism and neutrality.
The Commission’s Chairman, Mahmoud Yakubu, who raised the alarm in his opening remarks at the Police/Stakeholders’ Security Summit organised by the Nigeria Police Force, in Abuja, yesterday, insisted that the rules of engagement must be clear to all.
He further noted that the Commission plans to devolve the collection of Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) to at least the Ward level soon, and added that the 1,178,793 requests for replacement of damaged, defaced or lost PVCs as well as the 769,917 requests for intra and inter-State transfers are being processed.
“As with all elections, security is going to be a major issue in 2019. 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… 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 Com- mission. 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,” he said.
Elsewhere, former African presidents from four countries, including Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, began a two day meeting on finding solution to the disruptive use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) on the electoral process in the continent.
The ex-presidents were those of Ghana, John Mahama, Sierra Leone, Ernest Koroma and former Prime Minister of Kenya, Raila Odinga, while Obasanjo would serve as chairman.
The African leaders’ meeting on the theme: “High-Level Working Group Meeting on Mitigating Disruptive Applications of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) on the Electoral Process in Africa,” also had immediate past INEC chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega and Dr. Muthoni Wanyaki and Amir Osman from the Open Society Foundations in attendance.
In his opening remarks, Obasanjo said the essence of the meeting was “to review electoral systems in Africa, especially inputs, processes and output/outcomes. Secondly, to examine the strengths and weaknesses in the use of ICT in electoral systems in Africa and elsewhere in the world.
“To illustrate how ICT can be used to ease the electoral process rather than inhibit it; to document good practices in e-voting across the world and extract lessons for Africa and, to propose models of successful deployment of ICT in electoral systems in Africa for the sustenance of democracy in the region.”