INEC to Adopt New Measures in Future Elections

INEC to Adopt New Measures in Future Elections

Independent National Electoral Commission is set to adopt new measures to counter thuggery and disruption of election process in Nigeria.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) will no longer proceed with the process of election in any constituency where the safety of voters, INEC personnel and materials is threatened.

It has therefore decided that although the Commission has no power under the law to cancel an election, it will not proceed with the process in any constituency where the safety of voters, our personnel and materials is threatened. Furthermore, collation of results will not proceed where the collation centres are invaded. No declaration of winners will be made where Returning Officers are threatened.

Chairman of the Commission, Prof Mahmood Yakubu disclosed this at the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) post 2019 polls meeting in Abuja on Friday.

Reviewing the security situation prevailing during the 2019 election, Professor Yakubu said the Commission is concerned that security deployment in some of the most recent elections left much to be desired. There is more emphasis on numbers of security personnel to be deployed but less consideration on strategic deployment to protect the process, leaving the voters, election officials, party agents, observers, the media and even unarmed security personnel at polling units vulnerable to attacks by thugs and hoodlums.

“It is the responsibility of the security agencies to secure the environment for the successful conduct of elections. The purpose of security deployment during elections is to protect the voters, election officials and materials, accredited observers, the media and to safeguard the integrity of the processes generally, including the polling units and collations centres”

He noted that there was emphasis on numbers of security personnel but less on synergy, coordination and collaboration among the various security agencies in line with the purpose for which ICCES was established in the first instance. We must adopt a different approach to election security. We must translate the new approach to reality in the forthcoming re-run elections such that Nigerians will see a qualitatively different security arrangement.

He stated further that “no thugs and hoodlums can be more powerful than the Nigeria Police and other security agencies. It is the failure to act decisively and collaboratively that encourages thuggery and serves as an incentive for bad behaviour”

Furthermore, “the Commission is aware of the imperative of reform of which the review of the electoral legal framework is fundamental. We are working with the National Assembly and all stakeholders in this regard. One critical area of reform is the prosecution of electoral offenders. We shall vigorously pursue the establishment of the Electoral Offences Commission and Tribunal. Unless such decisive measure is taken, the present system of arrest, investigation and prosecution of electoral offenders will remain at best palliative”

Similarly, due to the role of financial inducement in the electoral process, including vote-buying at polling units on Election Day, INEC recognising the existing collaboration with the anti-corruption agencies in tracking financial flows for illicit purposes as well as the arrest and prosecution of perpetrators of such flows, especially for the purpose of corrupting the electoral process, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) have been included as members of ICCES, the Chairmen of the two agencies who were in attendance, were formally welcomed to the meeting.

INEC’s new resolve and strategy would, however, be put to test on January 20 when it conducts 28 rerun elections in 12 states of the federation.

Ayo Aluko-Olokun

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