Insecurity: INEC calls for more steps to halt campaign violence

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Nigeria’s election commission warned on Friday of the risk of increased campaign violence just over three months before presidential and parliamentary elections.

Since campaigning began just over a month ago, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has tracked 50 attacks across the country, according to INEC chairman Mahmood Yakuba.

“The commission is worried that if no urgent and decisive steps are taken, the attacks will intensify as we approach the election date,” the INEC chief said in a statement.

“We need to take decisive steps to stem the ugly trend.”

Emergency meeting

On Friday the electoral commission’s boss, convened an emergency meeting with members of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security.

INEC called the emergency meeting in response to recent attacks on the regional offices in Ogun and Osun states in the early hours of Thursday.

The National Security Adviser (NSA), Major-General Babagana Monguno, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Usman Alkali Baba; the Director General of the Department of State Services (DSS), Yusuf Bichi; and the Director General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ahmed Rufai Abubakar comprise the inter-agency committee.

Yakubu confirmed that arsonists set fire to INEC offices in Ogun and Osun, resulting in the loss of 904 election boxes and 65,699 uncollected Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs). He claims that the Commission will recreate the affected PVCs using their data.

While expressing strong concerns about political attacks, he urged the committee to take decisive action to prevent such incidents from occurring.

Monguno stated in his remarks that he was aware that at least 52 cases of violence had been reported in the last month across 22 states of the federation, a situation he described as a bad omen that must be dealt with decisively.

The NSA also stated that President Muhammadu Buhari has directed that the 2023 general elections be held without incident. According to him, the President is pleased with the conduct of the off-season governorship elections in Anambra, Ekiti, and Osun states, and expects a similar result in the 2023 elections.

Monguno went on to say that security agencies had been given explicit orders to “deal decisively” with any group or individual seeking to cause trouble. He warned such groups, regardless of political affiliation, to be wary of security agencies, which he said are on high alert.

The IGP confirmed that some arrests have already been made, that investigations are ongoing, and that he hopes justice is served quickly so that it can serve as a deterrent to others.

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