FOLLOWING the security lapses that marred the last year’s governorship election in Bayelsa and Kogi states, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has vowed to adopt a different approach to election security.
It said that it must translate the new approach to reality in the forthcoming re-run elections such that Nigerians will see a qualitatively different security ararangement.
INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, who made the disclosure at the meeting of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) in Abuja, said the commission is concerned that security deployment in some of the most recent elections left much to be desired.
According to him, “it is the responsibility of the security agencies to secure the environment for the successful conduct of elections”.
He argued that “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 chided the security chiefs for placing more emphasis on the number of security personnel to be deployed with less consideration on strategic deployment to protect the process.
The INEC chair maintained that to protect the process, “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.
“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,” he said.
In his response, the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, disagreed with the position of the INEC chair, stating that security operatives cannot compromise the process without collaboration with INEC officials.
According to Adamu, the only way to protect the electoral process is to boost synergy between the security operatives and INEC personnel superintending the elections.
National Security Adviser and Co-Chair of the ICCES, Babagana Mongunu, in his speech said that henceforth there must be consequences for bad behaviour, adding that no one would be allowed to undermine the process anymore.