The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has urged security agencies to take decisive action against purveyors of violence and other undemocratic activities ahead of the Nov. 11 off-cycle governorship elections.
The governorship elections on that day are due to hold in Bayelsa, Imo and Kogi.
INEC chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, spoke at an Inter-agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) meeting on the review of the 2023 general election on Friday in Abuja.
Mr Yakubu said that the meeting was to review the 2023 general elections, and it was important to draw lessons from the challenges that occurred for improved performance.
He said that was necessary not only for the next general election but also for the by-elections, the eight off-cycle governorship elections and other electoral activities to be held over the next three years.
“As we review the conduct of the last general election, we also need to focus our attention on the forthcoming by-elections and the three off-cycle Governorship elections in Bayelsa, Imo and Kogi States.
“Campaigns in public in the three States commenced on July 14 and will continue until Thursday, Nov. 9, 24 hours before the opening of polls on Saturday, Nov. 11.
“Already, there are ominous signs in the form of violent clashes between opposing political parties and candidates.
“While maintaining strict neutrality, security agencies should take decisive action against purveyors of violence and other undemocratic activities such as vote buying, attacks on election officials and disruption of the electoral process,” Mr Yakubu said.
He commended the security agencies and other members of ICCES for their contributions towards the peaceful conduct of the 2023 general elections.
“As you are aware, election is a multi-stakeholder activity. Although INEC drives the process, a secure environment for the conduct of peaceful elections is the responsibility of the security agencies working in partnership with the Commission.
“The synergy enabled us to overcome many of the challenges prior to the 2023 General Election, including the targeted attacks on INEC offices nationwide.
“Indeed, the concern that the perennial insecurity in some parts of the country before the election may make our deployment of personnel and materials, and consequently the conduct of polls, impossible did not materialise,” he said.
Mr Yakubu congratulated all the service chiefs, the acting Inspector-General Police, the comptroller general of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), his counterpart in the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), the acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and all other heads of agencies for their appointments.
In his remarks, the National Security Adviser (NSA) and co-chair of ICCES, Nuhu Ribadu, assured INEC of the security agencies’ support for a secured environment to conduct a peaceful governorship election in Bayelsa, Imo and Kogi.
“We believe that we are in position to guarantee the safety of Nigerians and INEC staff to conduct election.”
Mr Ribadu commended INEC for the peaceful conduct of the 2023 elections and the innovations adopted, saying INEC is doing well, especially on the adoption of technologies for election.
The meeting was attended by heads or representatives of the security agencies in the country.