From John Adams, Minna
Despite the security risks in parts of Niger State due armed bandit attacks, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has assured that adequate security for the February 6 by-election for Magama/Rijau federal constituency will be provided.
No fewer than 1,270 policemen in addition to other security agencies have been adequately mobilised to ensure hitch-free elections, the Commission said.
The Niger State Residence Electoral Commissioner, Prof Sam Egwu, who disclosed this in Minna while speaking on the level of the Commission’s preparedness for the by-election, said apart from these number of policemen, an undisclosed number of other security agents, including the army, civil defence and other paramilitaries will be deployed to ensure the security of voters in the 307 polling units across the two local government areas that make up the constituency.
According to him, the involvement of the Army and the other security agents is to deal with the peculiar security challenges associated with the two local government areas.
Prof Egwu disclosed that no fewer than 160,000 eligible voters are expected to participate in the election with only political parties, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) and All Democratic Congress (ADC) taking part.
On the conduct of the election, Egwu pointed out that INEC will conduct a free and fair election devoid of any flaw, stressing that ‘it is a standard already set by the Commission in all its elections and we can not go below that standard.
‘INEC will ensure that the election is credible, we will comply with all the provisions in the electoral act for the conduct of this election.’
He said all the sensitive materials for the election will leave the Central Bank, Minna for the two local government areas on Thursday accompanied by security agents after inspection by the three political parties.
He stated further that about 1,250 INEC personnel and other ad-hoc staff have already undergone training and will be deployed for the election.
He exonerated the Commission from any blame for the cancellation of the April 14, 2020, election into Federal Constituency that was upturned, adding that: ‘All the candidates and their political parties accepted the outcome of that election before it was upturned because a candidate was disqualified.’
It could be recalled that a federal high court had declared the previous election held on April 14, 2020, null and void and barred the APC which won that election from contesting in the by-election after its candidate was discovered to have submitted a fake birth certificate to the Commission.