2023: Insecurity may hinder elections in North-West, South-East – INEC

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By Ismail Auwal

The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu has expressed a concern that insecurity in the country could hamper elections in the North-West and South-East states.

He said that the security challenge, which had previously been limited to the North-East region, has now spread to other parts of the country.

According to INEC, over 41 attacks against its offices have been carried out across 14 states since the 2019 general election, with the South-East recording 13 attacks.

The attacks which started in Abia on May 9, 2021, spread to Enugu and Ebonyi, with three incidents each;  Imo, with two attacks; and Anambra and Abia with one each and in Bayelsa and Akwa Ibom states.

In all, the electoral body recorded nine attacks in 2019, 21 incidents in 2020 and over 12 as of May 2021. It also lost 9,836 smart card readers, 345 ballot boxes, and 135 voting cubicles, among other assets.

However, speaking in Washington on the INEC chairman, said he has received assurances from the service chiefs that they would secure the voting environment during the 2023 polls.

Yakubu while speaking at an event organised by the National Endowment for Democracy and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems at the NED Headquarters, Washington DC, United States of America  also acknowledged the issue of political thuggery which he said was organized by some of the political actors.

The INEC chairman said, “Are there concerns about the 2023 general election? I’ll be the last to say there are no concerns. The first concern is the perennial issue of insecurity in different parts of the country, compounded by the traditional issues of thuggery during elections organized by some of the political actors.

“I say it is a perennial issue because, at the end of the day, it is nothing new. However, the dimension of the insecurity is concerning in the sense that in the past, it was localized or confined to a particular part of the country, the northeast. But now, it is more widespread and we are keeping our eyes, particularly on the northwest and the southeastern parts of the country.’’

Speaking further on other concerns, he stated, ‘’Elections are conducted by human beings. We worry about the security of our officials, voters and the materials to be deployed. Without them, we cannot conduct elections. We have spoken to the security agencies and they have assured us that the situation will improve before the elections.

“So, fingers crossed. Those who are supposed to secure the environment have assured us that they will secure the environment for us to conduct elections. Our responsibility is to conduct elections.”

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