Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has raised the alarm over the challenges of difficult geographical terrain and prevailing insecurity compounded by negative mobilisation by political actors, confronting next month’s off-cycle governorship elections in Kogi, Bayelsa and Imo states.
INEC chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, made the disclosure in his remarks at the meeting of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) held in Abuja on Friday,
Yakubu, equally, charged the security agencies to take decisive action against perpetrators of electoral violence. He pleaded with the security personnel on electoral duty to remain neutral and committed to the established professional code of conduct and rules of engagement.
He said: “The three states of Bayelsa, Imo and Kogi are not the easiest states in Nigeria to conduct elections. The difficult geographical terrain and prevailing insecurity are compounded by negative mobilisation by political actors, especially since the commencement of campaign in public on July 14, 2023.
“Our message to politicians is that they should call their candidates and supporters to order. Violence and other undemocratic activities such as vote buying, attacks on election officials and disruption of the electoral process must stop.
“However, ultimate responsibility for election security lies with the security agencies. Our message to the security agencies is to take decisive action against perpetrators of electoral violence
“This is the surest way to guarantee a safe environment for the peaceful conduct of elections and electoral activities. In doing so, security personnel on electoral duty should remain neutral and committed to the established professional code of conduct and rules of engagement,” he appealed.
He praised the National Security Adviser (NSA), Nuhu Ribadu, for providing leadership by ensuring coordination and synergy among the security agencies.
“The three states have 5,409,438 registered voters out of which 5,169,692 have collected their Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs). Eligible voters will vote in all the 10,510 polling units. However, there are two polling units in Bayelsa state and 38 in Imo state without registered voters. The list of these polling units is available on our website.
“Similarly, election results will be collated in 649 Registration Areas/Wards, 56 Local Government Areas and three State collation centres. This gives us a cumulative figure of 11,178 voting and collation locations to deploy security personnel in the three states,” he stated