Upon the impending 2023 general election, questions have been raised regarding the security situation and its imminent effect on the results. 60 days to to this much anticipated general election, security has been tightened in all the offices and facilities of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) across the country. The offices located in volatile regions, immense security forces such as troops, policemen, operatives of Department of State Services and Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps have been stationed at these offices, while offices within secure states have been upgraded with policemen and vigilante groups. In fact, a nationwide observation across all INEC facilities indicated security agencies forming joint operations in a bid to efficiently protect the offices from arsonists and hoodlums launched to attack the electoral process.
Mr. Alkali Baba, the Inspector General of Police in a previous interview, noted that the police force would not allow any further attack on any of the INEC facilities. He stated that the police force had taken important measures to ensure the protection of these offices and electoral personnel. He also warned the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) group against disrupting the electoral processes. In Imo, for instance, reports of visits to the commission’s office showed a high graded security system deployed as a result of the recurrent attacks in the state. This was reported moments after the attack on the INEC office in the Isu Local Government of the state. Attacks were also recorded in Orlu and Iru West and INEC’s headquarters at Owerri.
Ebubeagu and Vigilante groups deployed to local government areas.
The state’s Resident Electoral Commission, Prof. Sylvia Agu revealed that security personnel had been deployed to efficiently monitor these facilities. She also noted that vigilante groups, as well as the Ebubeagu group had been working to safeguard the various local government areas. According to her, the building that housed the election party monitoring department, security, transport office, as well as the accounts were attacked by hoodlums, noting that this incident did not affect the sensitive materials.
In Kwara State also, police officers and other security personnel have been deployed to protect the INEC facilities in the state. I’m fact, INEC was said to have also employed private security agencies to further help the armed forces in protecting the electoral commission’s facilities. It was however discovered that the INEC offices at various local governments were within the local government secretariat and as such, depend on the security arrangements within the local government. Aliyu Abdul, a security expert noted that while it was quite easy to detect politically motivated attacks, ideological attacks like that of the IPOB was more difficult.
Okpuno traditional ruler blames insecurity on neighboring states.
Mrs. Queen-Elizabeth Agwu, the resident electoral commissioner in Anambra state complained about hoodlums burning down over 500 power generating sets during an attack last year. This was disclosed during a strategic meeting that she convened along with top commissioners of the commission. Agwu told the community leaders that they were important stakeholders regarding this crucial security issue broadening their communities. The Traditional ruler of Okpuno blamed the insecurity of the communities on the neighboring states.
Head of voter education, INEC, Ekiti State, Mr. Temitope Akanmu also noted that a stakeholder meeting in the state had been convened to resolve the issue of security in INEC’s facilities. He pointed out that the armed forces were working together and sharing strategies to ensure that the INEC facilities in the state were efficiently protected. The INEC officials in Plateau State stated that top tier arrangements were being enacted to also facilitate the protection of the electoral materials and Personnel from hoodlums.
INEC satisfied with the joint efforts of the armed forces to ensure safety.
The INEC PRO in Kebbi State, Abubakar Wala told reporters that the electoral commission had been really satisfied with the joint efforts of the armed forces at ensuring immense safety of the INEC facilities and personnel. Reports indicated that no attack had been enacted across the facilities in the 44 local governments of Kano state. The Public Relations Officer of the commission in Kano State, Mr. A.A Maulud noted that the peace evident in the state was a yardstick by which the electoral body was leveraging in maintaining its facilities across the state.
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