…Charged security agencies to guard against political acrimony
Tunde Opalana, Abuja
As at close of work on Thursday, 15 out of the 18 registered political parties have invited the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to monitor their primaries ahead of the June 22 primary for Edo state governorship elections.
Chairman of the Commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu disclosed this at the first consultative meeting of the Inter – Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) on Friday.
He said processes for party primaries for the nomination of candidates for the Edo governorship election have commenced while the process for Ondo state is scheduled for 2nd to 25th July 2020.
Acknowledging the possibility of breakdown of law and order as a result of acrimony that usually attend political parties primaries, the Commission charged security agencied to take pre – emptive measures ahead of the Edo and Ondo governorship polls as well as bye – elections into legislative houses.
Yakubu said “as you are aware, the conduct of primaries by political parties tends to be very acrimonious. The acrimony is carried forward into the electioneering campaigns and election day activities. Already, there are warning signals.
“The security agencies need to act proactively. An early engagement with political parties and aspirants is necessary in order to create the atmosphere for peaceful primaries and consequently peaceful elections”.
According to the chairman, INEC recent policy guidelines provide for measures to protect the electoral process and the people involved, ranging from the election officials, observers, the media and, above all, the voters, adding that doing so will also increase public confidence and consequently enhance the credibility of the electoral process.
“To do so effectively, there is need to review the security architecture in the light of the global pandemic and come up with clear guidelines as well as supplementary code of conduct for security personnel on election duty.
“As the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic will impact on the planning and deployment strategy for the conduct of elections generally, it is necessary for ICCES to evolve effective ways of securing and protecting the integrity of the electoral process.
“Fortunately, in the aftermath of recent Governorship elections, ICCES set up an ad hoc committee to advise it on security arrangements for future elections.
The report of the Committee, which will be presented for consideration at this meeting, is coming at an auspicious time. We should, as a matter of urgency, come up with a policy and code of conduct for security personnel in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Connected to the meeting were, the National Security Adviser and Co-chair of ICCES, who was reptesented, members of the ICCES, National Commissioners, Resident Electoral Commissioners for Edo and Ondo States and Commissioners of Police for Edo and Ondo States.