By Gift Olivia Samuel, The Sight News
In the light of recent and seemingly escalating threats to the Anambra State Governorship election of November 6, 2021, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Tuesday, convened an emergency meeting of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES).
The INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu in his remark at the meeting, said the security situation in the state has unfortunately deteriorated markedly since the last meeting with ICCES, adding that many innocent lives have been lost and property destroyed.
Mahmood also stated that from the reports the Commission has received, the stated goal of many of the attackers is that the Governorship election scheduled for 6th November 2021 must not hold, noting however, that the Commission is determined to proceed with the election as scheduled.
He further pointed out that the Commission is particularly concerned about the safety of voters and Election Day staff, including security officials who have also become the targets of these attacks.
According to him, “The thousands of young Nigerians that we intend to deploy for the election, most of them National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members and university students, need to be reassured of their personal safety.
“At the same time, deployment for the election will involve the movement of huge consignments of sensitive and non-sensitive materials to the 21 Local Government Areas of the State, 326 Wards or Registration Areas and 5,720 Polling Units. That means over 6,000 locations to be protected.
“If we add that to about 26,000 officials that will be deployed for the election, we begin to appreciate the magnitude of the challenge of securing the Anambra Governorship election which is only thirty-two (32) days from today”, he said.
Furthermore, he expressed worry that the security agencies have also become prime targets of these mindless attacks.
“We are confident that at the end of this meeting, we will firm up on specific measures necessary to further guarantee the safety of all persons involved in the election from the voters, election officials, observers, media organisations and the security of election materials”, he said.
Underscoring the determination of INEC, he disclosed that the Commission is implementing two more activities on the Timetable for the election in the next few days—The register of voters will be presented to political parties in Awka on Thursday 7th October 2021— On the same day, the Commission will publish the final list of candidates for the election.
“We will continue to work with the security agencies and in consultation with respected opinion leaders in Anambra State and the National Peace Committee to ensure that these hit-and-run attacks do not derail the electoral process”, he remarked.
Responding, the National Security Adviser (NSA) and Co-Chair of ICCES, Major General Babagana Monguno, said the security threat posed by violent activities of separatist groups in the South-East region bent on scuffling the election in the State constitutes a clear and present danger to the nation’s democratic process and consolidation.
The NSA who was represented by Mr. Sanusi Galadima, stated that the Office of the Security Adviser (ONSA), is working assiduously with relevant security and intelligence agencies towards arresting the foregoing ugly trend and other associated security challenges in the South-East zone and beyond.
“This determination of the presidency has already been translated into action by the recent joint Military operation code-named “Golden Dawn” in the South-East as well as other security operations across the country.
“This is in addition to the increasing collaboration between the Federal and South-East Governors towards addressing the underlying socio economic drivers of insecurity in the region”, he said.
He further reiterated the Federal Government’s commitment to the protection of lives and property of all law-abiding citizens before, during and after the elections, and also called on all peace loving Nigerians of the South-East extraction to join hands with constituted authority to promote peace and development across the region and beyond.