The Chairman of Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, has expressed concerns over potential security challenges in the upcoming by-elections and re-run elections. At a meeting in Abuja with the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES), Yakubu highlighted the risks posed by “disruptive behaviour” from some political candidates and their supporters.
The elections, scheduled for February the third, are seen as a test for the commission and security agencies, with isolated voting locations particularly vulnerable. Reports from various states have indicated that the prevailing insecurity, compounded by inflammatory statements from some political figures, could impact the electoral process.
Professor Yakubu’s comments come as Nigeria prepares to conduct nine bye-elections and several re-run elections following court orders. These are in addition to two major off-cycle governorship elections to be held later in the year in Edo and Ondo States.
The INEC Chairman appealed for a cooperative approach among all stakeholders to ensure a peaceful and credible electoral environment. The meeting with ICCES was an opportunity to address these security concerns and strategize on the deployment of personnel and materials to the affected polling units.
In his comments, Nigeria’s National Security Adviser who is the co-chair of ICCES and who spoke through a representative (Director Internal Security, Hassan Abdullahi) promised to provide all the support required for the off-cycle elections.
On his part, the Inspector General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun said he is aware of the weight of expectation from voters promising to live up to the expectation.
Nigeria’s continued cycle of elections throughout the year places constant demands on the electoral commission and security agencies, with the upcoming party primaries for Edo and Ondo governorship elections expected to add further pressure to the electoral process.