The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Friday called the attention of the security agencies to what it called ‘warning signals’ of violence and acrimony during the forthcoming Edo and Ondo governorship primaries and elections proper.
It asked the relevant authorities to act proactively to ensure that there is no breakdown of law and order.
National Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said during a virtual meeting with the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) that the conduct of primaries by political parties always tended to be acrimonious, and such acrimony is usually carried into campaigns and election day activities.
Yakubu advised the security agencies to launch into early engagement with the political parties and the aspirants with a view to creating an atmosphere for peaceful primaries and the consequent elections.
He said the process for the party primaries in Edo was already in progress.
Fifteen of the 18 registered political parties have invited the Commission to monitor their primaries.
He said: “The process for Ondo State is scheduled for 2nd to 25th July 2020. As you are aware, the conduct of primaries by political parties tends to be very acrimonious. The acrimony is carried forward into the electioneering campaigns and Election Day activities”
Updating the committee on the preparedness of the commission for the elections in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the INEC boss explained that “INEC’s policy on conducting elections under the current global pandemic is anchored on the guidelines issued by the Presidential Task Force (PTF) based on the advisory by health authorities.
“The guidelines provide for measures to protect the electoral process and the people involved, ranging from the election officials and observers to the media and, above all, the voters.
“Doing so will also increase public confidence and consequently enhance the credibility of the electoral process. To do so effectively, there is need to review the security architecture in the light of the global pandemic and come up with clear guidelines as well as supplementary code of conduct for security personnel on election duty.
“As the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic will impact on the planning and deployment strategy for the conduct of elections generally, it is necessary for ICCES to evolve effective ways of securing and protecting the integrity of the electoral process.
“Fortunately, in the aftermath of recent governorship elections, ICCES set up an ad hoc committee to advise it on security arrangements for future elections.
“The report of the Committee, which will be presented for consideration at this meeting, is coming at an auspicious time. We should, as a matter of urgency, come up with a policy and code of conduct for security personnel in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
He also added that “in addition to the two governorship elections, vacancies have occurred in 10 National and State constituencies in 8 states across the country. The Commission is also making preparations for the consequential bye-elections in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.”