The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has lamented that the ongoing security challenges of banditry and kidnapping posed a threat to the conduct of free, fair and credible elections in the country.
National Commissioner and Chairman Board of Electoral Institute (BEI), Mallam Mohammed Kudu Haruna, Wednesday, in Abuja raised the alarm in his opening remarks at the Annual Prof Abubakar Momoh memorial lecture.
He stressed that with the increasing rate of insecurity, there is every reason to be especially concerned about the Anambra state governorship election and eventually the 2023 general elections.
“Security is a critical issue that goes along with elections. Elections can hardly be conducted where there is insecurity. Nigeria, as it is today, is facing myriads of security challenges and these have affected all facets of our daily living, making lives very unbearable for so many citizens.
“Banditry, kidnapping and activities of some dangerous elements in our society are posing serious challenges to our electoral and democratic processes. INEC, as an Election Management Board (EMB) is seriously concerned about the challenge all these pose on the delivery of its mandate, which includes the conduct of free, fair and credible elections in the country.
“There are reasons to be especially concerned about the Anambra State governorship election and eventually the 2023 general elections. To avoid any constitutional crisis these elections must be conducted in line with the constitutional timelines. “This means we must do everything to remove the security or any other threat to the Commission’s commitment to the delivery of its mandate. Hence the choice of the topic for this year’s lecture.
“It has become the tradition of the Commission, through the Electoral Institute, to engage stakeholders who will do justice to any topical issue germane to elections. The Institute creates avenues for this kind of interactions through policy dialogues, round-table series, focus group discussions as well as through late Prof Momoh memorial lecture.
“The institute has a very expansive pool of stakeholders. In this circumstance, the electoral institute is engaging security experts, media practitioners and people from the academia to do justice to this topic,” he stated.
Also speaking, the Director-General of the Electoral Institute, Dr Sa’ad Umar, argued that the topic; “security and elections: Implications for Anambra state governorship and 2023 general elections, was very carefully chosen to emphasise the present security situation in the country.
“Security issues in Nigeria today are highly multifaceted as they are multi-tasking. Before now, what we only grappled with was preponderance of political violence and thuggery in elections, the trend that led to a situation whereby the citizens of Nigeria were viewing elections and democratic processes with apprehension and anxiety.
“The unfortunate situation we are all facing today is that the security situation in the country has degenerated beyond the above-mentioned reckless manipulations, the politics of brickmanship and subversion.
“The constant fears expressed today by the electoral umpire, the electorate and the Nigerian citizens in general are the possibility of insecurity at elections, banditry, kidnapping and the threat of highly dangerous criminal elements marauding the country as a whole,” he said.