Elections under threat, says INEC

The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, on Monday raised the alarm that the forthcoming elections risk cancellation or postponement if there is no improvement in the security challenges being witnessed across the country.

But the Peoples Democratic Party has replied the INEC boss, saying that nothing short of free, fair and credible elections will be acceptable.

Yakubu, represented by the Chairman, Board of Electoral Institute, Abdullahi Zuru, spoke at the validation of election security training resources held in Abuja on Monday.

He noted that the forthcoming elections face a serious threat of cancellation should the security situation across the country fails to improve.

“If the insecurity is not monitored and dealt with decisively, it could ultimately culminate in the cancellation and/or postponement of elections in sufficient constituencies to hinder declaration of elections results and precipitate a constitutional crisis,” he said.

The INEC boss however assured all stakeholders that the commission is not leaving anything to chance in ensuring that security is provided for election personnel and materials.

He said INEC appreciated the fact that election security is vital to democratic consolidation through the provision of enabling environment for the conduct of free, fair, credible and inclusive elections and thus strengthening the electoral process.

He added, “Consequently, in preparations for the 2023 general elections, the commission is not leaving anything to chance in ensuring that intensive and extensive security is provided for election personnel, materials and processes.

“This is particularly significant to the commission given the current insecurity challenges in various parts of the country and the fact that the National Youth Service Corps members constitute the core of the Polling Unit Election officials.

“This must not be allowed to happen and shall not be allowed to happen. Therefore, security personnel in particular and all electoral officials, in general, must be security conscious and alert to unusual activities in their environment and must be fully equipped to deal with any challenge at all times.”

PDP reacts

Reacting however, the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Debo Ologunagba, said the commission’s warning vindicated the opposition party which he said has been raising the alarm over electoral violence.

He said nothing short of free, fair and credible elections will be acceptable to the party.

Ologunagba said, “We have been talking about this to the press. When we stated this a long time ago, people said it was a false alarm. The security agencies and the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), who promised the whole world that there would be peace, should remember that nothing short of a free, fair and credible election will be acceptable.

“The reality on the ground is that since 2019, there have been over 50 attacks on INEC facilities.

“In 2022 alone, INEC in its findings said there have been well-coordinated and bizarre attacks on its facilities. They are doing this so that the elections will not take place.”

APC mum

The spokesperson of the All Progressives Congress, Felix Morka, however, told The PUNCH that he would react on behalf of the party only after listening to what the INEC chairman said at the event.

“I am not aware of that story yet. I was not there, and I have not read the statement. So, afford me the time to hear what INEC said before I react,” he said.