2023: Insecurity remains our greatest threat ― INEC chairman

• Our interface timely ― NSA

Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mahmood Yakubu, on Thursday, restated his concern over the state of insecurity in the country ahead of the next general elections.

Yakubu spoke on the occasion of the meeting of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) held at his Commission headquarter in Abuja.

The INEC Chairman who recalled that four regular meetings of the ICCES were organised last year, also said “the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) met seven times, including one special and three emergency sessions to plan for election security or to strategise on how best to protect INEC facilities from malicious attacks across the country.”

He hinted the gathering of the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno; Director-General of the Department of State Services, Mr Yusuf Magaji Bichi and the Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba, that more of such meetings would be convened this year to ensure seamless conduct of offseason and general elections.

He said: “With regard to the end-of-tenure elections, three major elections are holding this year. The Ekiti State Governorship election is scheduled to hold on 18th June 2022 while the Osun State Governorship election will hold on 16th July 2022. More immediately, the Area Council elections in the FCT is holding on February 12, 2022, which is just 23 days away.

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“As early as next week, the INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner and the Commissioner of Police will brief us on the state of preparation with emphasis on the identified flashpoints and the security situation generally in the FCT. At that meeting, the Commission will provide an overview of our readiness for the election involving 68 constituencies (6 Area Council Chairmen and 62 Councillors).

“In addition to these off-cycle and bye-elections, we must also continue to prepare for the 2023 General Election holding in 394 days. Securing the nation under current circumstances is challenging enough. It is more so in an election year. Beginning from this meeting, we shall focus mainly on the best way to secure the electoral process in the most professional manner.”

Professor Yakubu commended the security agencies for ensuring that last November governorship election in Anambra State was held peacefully without security hitches.

“During the year, the Commission conducted nine bye-elections in six states of the Federation involving four Federal constituencies, four State constituencies and one Councillorship constituency in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). Most importantly, the end of the tenure Governorship election in Anambra State passed off peacefully despite the tension and actual violence preceding it.

“The conduct of the Anambra Governorship election will go down in history as a remarkable accomplishment. On behalf of INEC, let me seize this opportunity to commend the professionalism of the security agencies without which the peaceful conduct of the election would not have been possible.

“I am confident that the standard of professional conduct displayed by INEC officials and the security agencies in the Edo, Ondo and Anambra State Governorship elections will be maintained in all forthcoming polls, including the 2023 General Election. Our responsibility is to protect the process to guarantee its integrity while leaving the outcome of the election for voters to determine.”

Representative of the NSA, Sanusi Galadima, said the meeting was timely as it would enable various security agencies to offer proactive security ideas on how to contain threats ahead of the elections.

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