- June 9, 2022
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Chuks Okocha in Abuja
With the spate of insecurity in the country not abating, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) will this week meet with the nation’s security community under the auspices of Inter-agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES).
This hint was dropped by a top official of INEC and the outgoing Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) of Akwa Ibom State, Mike Igini.
He spoke on Channels Television breakfast programme Sunrise Daily.
According to Igini, security is a big issue ahead of the 2023 general elections as INEC has been on the receiving end and just recently in Imo state a staff member was killed and two others abducted while on the Continuous Voter Registration which will end in June 2022.
“Security is key as the country moves toward the 2023 General Elections. Unfortunately, INEC has been on the receiving end of the insecurity in the country. And look out what happened recently in Imo state”.
“It’s really a case of ignorance on the part of these people who carried out that heinous crime. I heard they said we are talking about referendum and they are taking of elections. But these elements do not know that INEC is the only body that has the Statutory duty or responsible to conduct both elections and referendum,” Igini posited.
The outspoken REC, however, said that INEC RECs from 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) will converge on Abuja during the week to participate in the crucial meeting between INEC and ICCES which comprises all the arms of the country’s Armed Forces and para-military agencies headed by the National Security Adviser (NSA), Major General Babagana Monguno.
Meanwhile, Igini has called for absolute security neutrality by the security agencies in the forthcoming general elections in 2023, pointing out that there should be a level playing fields for all the aspirants.
He said: “I must appeal to the security agencies to maintain absolute security neutrality. No aspirant should be allowed to use the security agents attached to them to intimidate opponents ahead of the political parties primary elections and the general elections.”
“Some aspirants should not be allowed to have security agents while others do not have or denied to have. It will create problems for everyone. There will be bad blood if that happen.”
“We are aware that politicians hire political thugs and there is an Association of Thugs who collect money from corrupt politicians to supply them bus loads of thugs during elections even the primary elections”.
Asked what will happen to the incumbent elected officials who move around with their security details, Igini said they should do it with decorum, adding that those who are not entitled to have security details must not hire on their own.
The REC has also said that Part 1 Section 2 of the new Electoral Act 2022 has empowered INEC to educate Nigerians on the importance of participating in the country’s electoral processes every four years.
But he lamented that poverty and illiteracy have combined to ensure that electorate do not know the power of their voters card and said INEC has a duty to undertake Voter Education and Publicity as required by law.
According to him, Nigerians should avail themselves of the on-going CVR, explaining that some Nigerians are being deceived to do double registration by corrupt politicians.
“It has been discovered that some politicians are encouraging registrants to do double registration, assuring them INEC will not discover it. But they are wrong as INEC has evolved by introducing biometric systems of registration which also captures finger prints, facial recognition,etc,” he said.
Igini argued that it is the double registration that the INEC Executive Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu had in the recent press conference in Abuja said are invalid and not the Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs).
“It was a misrepresentation or interpretation by the social media of what INEC Chairman said at a press conference in Abuja about the huge number of invalid registration. He did not say millions of PVCs issued by INEC are invalid. He said most of the people did double registration or did not complete their registration hence the exercises were invalid. He did not say the PVCs are invalid”, Igini concluded.