INEC re-schedules February polls, gives security reason

INEC re-schedules February polls, gives security reason

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), yesterday announced that the 2015 general elections earlier scheduled for February have been re-scheduled. Chairman of the Commission, Prof. Attahiru Jega, last Saturday, during a press briefing held at the Commission’s headquarters, gave security reason for the re-scheduling of the February 14th and 28th elections. The elections will now

INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega

INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), yesterday announced that the 2015 general elections earlier scheduled for February have been re-scheduled.

Chairman of the Commission, Prof. Attahiru Jega, last Saturday, during a press briefing held at the Commission’s headquarters, gave security reason for the re-scheduling of the February 14th and 28th elections. The elections will now hold on March 28th and April 11th for the Presidential/National Assembly and Gover­norship/State Assembly elections respectively.

The INEC Chairman stated that the Commission arrived at the decision after wide consultations with key stakeholders such as: Political Parties, Civil Society Organizations, Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs), and security chiefs among others.

He stressed that in spite of a few challenges, the Commission was confident in its level of preparedness to conduct free, fair and credible elections as earlier scheduled on February 14th and 28th but pointed out that: “there are some variables equally crucial for successful conduct of the 2015 general elections that are outside the control of INEC. One important variable is security.”

He explained that the Commission had last Wednesday received a letter from the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA), drawing its attention to recent developments in four Northeast states of Borno, Yobe, Adamawa and Gombe currently experiencing the challenge of insurgency. The letter stated that security could not be guaranteed during the proposed period in February for the general elections.

Professor Jega further added that: “this advisory was reinforced at the Council of State meeting on Thursday where the NSA and all the Armed Services and Intelligence Chiefs unanimously reiterated that the safety and security of INEC’s operations cannot be guaranteed, and that the Security Services needed at least six weeks within which to conclude a major military operation against insurgency in the North East; and that during this operation, the military will be concentrating its attention in the theatre of operations such that they may not be able to provide the traditional support they render to the police and other agencies during elections”.

Jega noted that it would be dangerous for INEC to send its personnel to areas the security agencies had said they would not be able to guarantee the safety of the staff, electorate and election materials. “INEC has cordial relations with all the security agen­cies, and we consider it imperative not to put our staff (ad hoc and regular staff), the electorate and election materials at risk if there are no secu­rity provisions for them”, Professor Jega said.

The INEC Chairman made it categorically clear that the Commission was not coerced to re-schedule the polls. Said he: “We are not being forced by anybody to take this decision. This is a decision that we had to take by ourselves. They were not pleasant decisions to take but we had to take the decisions. Nobody has forced us; nobody has coerced us.”

He reassured Nigerians and the international community of INEC’s commitment towards conducting free, fair, credible and peaceful elections and called on the security agencies to “honour their commitment to restore sufficient normalcy for elections to take place within the period of extension”.

He also said INEC would use the period of extension to keep perfecting its systems and processes for conducting the best elections in Nigeria’s history, adding that all outstanding issues related to non-collection of PVCs, which he said agitated the minds of many Nigerians, would be addressed.

Professor Jega called on Nigerians, Political Parties, candidates and all other stakeholders to accept the decision in good faith and ensure the maintenance of peace.

Source: INEC Bulletin

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