The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has warned of impending violence ahead of the Edo and Ondo governorship elections, urging security agencies to be proactive.
The commission said the violence might ensued from acrimonious primaries often conducted by political parties.
INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, who expressed the commission’s fear at the first virtual meeting with members of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES), Friday, regretted that resentment from primaries is usually carried forward into the electioneering campaigns and election day activities.
“Party primaries for the nomination of candidates for the Edo Governorship election have commenced. As at yesterday, 15 out of the 18 registered political parties have invited the Commission to monitor their primaries. The process for Ondo State is scheduled for 2nd to 25th July 2020.
“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. Early engagement with political parties and aspirants is necessary in order to create the atmosphere for peaceful primaries and consequently peaceful elections”, he stated.
On conducting elections in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the INEC boss observed that the pandemic would greatly impact on the planning and deployment strategy for the conduct of elections.
According to him, the commission’s new policy on conducting elections under the current global pandemic is anchored on the guidelines issued by the Presidential Task Force (PTF) based on the advisory by health authorities.
He said: ‘In the next few months, the Commission will hold two major elections. The end of tenure Governorship elections in Edo and Ondo States scheduled for 19th September 2020 and 10th October 2020 respectively. The Commission released the timetable and schedule of activities for the two elections early this year. At that time, no one anticipated that our preparations for the elections will be done in the middle of a global health emergency.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has altered the normal way of doing things, including the conduct of elections. For this reason, the Commission released a new policy on conducting elections in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In addition to the two Governorship elections, vacancies have occurred in 10 National and State constituencies in 8 States across the country. The Commission is also making preparations for the consequential bye-elections in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic…”
“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.”