The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has called for a new and different approach to election security in the country.
The INEC Chairman and co-Chair of the ICCES, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, made the call on Friday in Abuja at the expanded and first meeting of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES).
The meeting was attended by the National Security Adviser (NSA) and co-Chair of ICCES, Mohammed Babagana Monguno; Chairman, Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Prof Bolaji Owasanoye; Director General, State Security Service (SSS), Yusuf Magaji Bichi; Inspector General of Police (IGP) Mohammed Adamu, a representative of the acting Chairman, EFCC; and representatives of the service chiefs among others.
According to Yakubu, while it is the responsibility of the security agencies to secure the environment for the successful conduct of elections, 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 said the commission is concerned that security deployment in some of the most recent elections left much to be desired.
“There is more emphasis on numbers of security personnel to be deployed but less consideration on strategic deployment to protect the process, leaving the voters, election officials, party agents, observers, the media and even unarmed security personnel at polling units vulnerable to attacks by thugs and hoodlums.
“Furthermore, there is emphasis on numbers of security personnel but less on synergy, coordination and collaboration among the various security agencies in line with the purpose for which ICCES was established in the first instance. 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. No thugs and hoodlums can be more powerful than the Nigeria Police and other security agencies. It is the failure to act decisively and collaboratively that encourages thuggery and serves as an incentive for bad behaviour,” Yakubu said.