The Independent National Electoral Commission INEC has lamented the growing wave of election-related insecurity across the country, expressing fears that the trend if not checkmated, could lead to the cancellation or postponement of the forthcoming polls.
Noting that the development could hinder declaration of elections results and precipitate constitutional crisis, the electoral umpire called for concerted efforts to stem the tide of violence.
Chairman, Board of The Electoral Institute TEI, INEC’s training arm, Prof. Abdullahi Abdu Zuru made the observation Monday in Abuja at the validation of election security training resources.
He said; “We all appreciate the fact that Election Security is vital to democratic consolidation through provision of enabling environment for the conduct of free, fair, credible and inclusive elections and thus strengthening the electoral process.
“Consequently, in preparations for the 2023 General elections, the Commission is not leaving anything to chance in ensuring that intensive and extensive security are provided for election personnel, materials and processes.
“This is particularly significant to the Commission given the current insecurity challenges in various parts the country and the fact that the National Youth Service Corps NYSC members constitute the core of the Polling Unit Election officials.
“Moreover, if the insecurity is not monitored and dealt with decisively, it could ultimately culminate in the cancellation and/or postponement of elections in sufficient constituencies to hinder declaration of elections results and precipitate constitutional crisis.
“This must not be allowed to happen and shall not be allowed to happen. Therefore, Security Personnel in particular and all election officials in general must be security conscious and alert to unusual activities in their environment and must be fully equipped to deal with any challenge at all times.
To this end, the National Security Adviser, Gen. Mohammed Babagana Monguno and the Chairman, INEC have jointly assured the nation that conducive environment will be provided for successful conduct of the 2023 general Election.
“Similarly, the Inspector General of Police, IGP Usman Alkali Baba, has conducted Election Security Management Workshops across the Six Geopolitical Zones.
“On its part the Commission, through The Electoral Institute, has institutionalized the development and implementation of a cascaded training mechanism for security personnel as a critical component of its training plan”.
He said emboldened by protection offered by the amended Electoral Act, the Commission introduced innovative technologies and procedures and made commitments to the Nigerians that continuous verification, accreditation and voting will be conducted at the polling units using the Bimodal Verification and Accreditation System (BVAS) and real-time polling unit-level results will be uploaded on to the INEC Results Viewing (IReV) Portal using the same BVAS.
“These commitments require innovative security strategies and deployments for protection of voters, election personnel, materials, equipment, the electoral processes as well as the general public and infrastructure.
These innovative systems and processes minimize human errors and delays in results collation and improves the accuracy, transparency, and credibility of the results collation process thereby ensuring credibility of the process.
“They were tested during the Ekiti and Osun Governorship elections, held on June 18, 2022 and July 16, 2022, respectively”, he added.
In his welcome remarks, the Director General of The Electoral Institute, Dr. Sa’ad Umar Idris emphasized that the Election Security Training Documents would play a very critical role in the effective training of Security Personnel in securing the electoral environment for free, fair, credible and inclusive elections.
According to him, the four documents to be validated are: the electoral security personnel training manual, the electoral security personnel facilitator’s guide, the electoral security handbook, and the basic security in election duty handbook.
In his goodwill message, Country Director of the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, IFES, Serah Jah, said managing security threats in the electioneering process is a tall order for INEC.