Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has condemned the actions of some security agents during last weekend’s presidential and National Assembly elections, promising to review the development with the Inspector General of Police (IGP) at the level of the lnter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES).
The condemnation was contained in the communique raised after several hours meeting with the National Commissioners and the Resident Electoral Commissioners.
The communiqué which was signed by National Commissioner and chairman Information and Voter Education, Festus Okoye, acknowledged the delays in the commencement of last weekend’s election in some polling units which necessitated the extension of the closing of polls in the affected areas. The commission agreed to conduct supplementary elections in all areas elections did not either take place or returns were not made last weekend alongside the governorship and state Assembly elections.
Although the commission admitted delay in the deployment of electoral materials, it however condemned, in its entirety, the subjugation of electoral officials to threats, harassment, intimidation, assault, abduction, and even rape.
“INEC met on Thursday, February 28, 2019, with its RECs to review the Presidential and National Assembly Elections of February 23, 2019, and assess preparations for the governorship, State Houses of Assembly and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Area Council elections slated for Saturday, March 9, 2019.
“The meeting acknowledged the delays in the commencement of elections in a number of polling units which necessitated the extension of the closing of polls in the affected areas. The commission is determined to rectify the identified challenges before the elections on March 9.
“The meeting noted a number of cancellations in certain areas due to violence, which prevented the commission from deploying personnel and materials for the elections. In a number of locations, it could not conclude the elections due to disruptions and deliberate noncompliance with the use of the Smart Card Reader (SCR), contrary to the lNEC regulations and guidelines for the conduct of elections.
“Consequently, the meeting decided that supplementary elections will be conducted in all areas where elections did not take place and/or where returns could not be made on Saturday, March 9, 2019, alongside the governorship and state Houses of Assembly elections,” the communiqué read.
On the actions and inactions of the security agents, the communiqué noted: “The meeting also assessed the role of security agencies in the elections. While acknowledging their professionalism in the deployment of election personnel and materials in a safe and timely manner, the conduct of certain members of the security agencies in some states is a matter of serious concern to the commission.
“This matter will be further discussed directly with the IGP within the ambit of the lnter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) in preparation for the governorship, state Houses of Assembly and PCT Area Council elections.”