With 37 days to the general elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has called for a new approach to the deployment of security forces during the election.
The chairman of the commission, Mahmood Yakubu, said this at the opening of its regular quarterly meeting of the inter-agency consultative committee on election security (ICCES).
This meeting, Mr Yakubu said, is primarily to update members of ICCES on its preparation for the elections and hear from the security agencies on their preparations so far.
He also noted the Nigerian Police Force remains the lead agency for election security while other security agencies play a supportive role to the Nigeria Police.
“Learning from the experience of off-season elections conducted since 2015, it is pertinent to draw our attention to the need for a different approach to the deployment of security forces during elections.”
He said a new security architecture for 2019 is consistent with the provision of Section 29 (3) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) which allows the commission to request for the deployment of relevant security personnel necessary for elections or registration of voters and assign them in a manner to be determined by the Commission, in consultation with the relevant security agencies.
In line with this, the Commission said its request for the deployment of the Nigerian Armed Forces is only to secure the distribution and delivery of election materials and protection of election officials.
He said the meeting will deliberate on modalities for actualising the provision of the law.
“In particular, we are committed to ensuring that elections are organised in such a manner that the security agencies are not perceived to be running parallel arrangement with INEC. Rather, it should strictly be INEC’s plan for the election that should be implemented.
The Commission, which has so far, accomplished 10 out of 14 activities on the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the election, has been meeting with major actors from the political parties, to CSOs, to road transport unions and the media, to ensure all hands are on deck, to make the election a successful one.
The four outstanding activities are the publication of the list of candidates, the submission of the names of polling agents by political parties, the last day of campaign and the dates for the two categories of elections which is February 16 for Presidential and National Assembly election while governorship and state house of assemblies elections will hold on March 2.
Also in preparation towards the election, the commission released the national register of voters for the elections which stands at 84,004,084 voters.
This, the chairman said, is the largest database of citizens in Africa and one of the largest voter registers in the world.
He, therefore, appreciated the collaboration of security agencies in facilitating the smooth conduct of the exercise.
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