The Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, on Friday, called for the review of security architecture for elections, in the light of the global Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Yakubu, in his remarks during the first virtual consultative meeting of the Inter-agency Consultative Committee On Election Security (ICCES), said there was need to come up with clear guidelines supplementary Code of Conduct, for security personnel on election duty.
Yakubu said that the recently released INEC’s policy on conducting elections under the current global pandemic, was 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, observers, 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,” Yakubu said.
He disclosed that 15 out of 18 registered political parties had invited the commission to monitor their primaries for the nomination of candidates for the Edo Governorship, while the process for Ondo governorship election would be between July 2 to July 25.
Yakubu, who said there were already warning signals the parties primaries for the elections were going to be acrimonious, called on security agencies to be proactive by meeting early, with political parties and aspirants for peaceful primaries and elections.
“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. Already, there are warning signals. The security agencies need to act proactively.
“An early engagement with political parties and aspirants is necessary in order to create the atmosphere for peaceful primaries and consequently peaceful elections,” he said.
He assured that INEC would continue to deepen the use of technology in the management of the country’s electoral process, including ICCES meetings and other engagements with security agencies.
The National Security Adviser (NSA), Babagana Monguno, called on security agencies to ensure that Edo and Ondo governorship elections as well as by-elections were conducted without rancour.
Monguno, represented by Galadima Yusuf, expressed optimism that the pandemic would soon be over and there would be peaceful conduct of elections.