Chairman of, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, has raised the alarm warning that the 2023 elections may be postponed in flashpoints, if the situation does not improve.
The Commission hinted that the results of the 2023 polls may not be declared if elections are cancelled in many constituencies as a result of worsening insecurity.
Yakubu, while speaking at the validation of election security training resources in Abuja, observed that the elections face a serious threat of cancellation if the security situation across the country fails to improve.
Yakubu, who was represented by the Chairman, the Board of Electoral Institute, Abdullahi Zuru, said: “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.”
The Commission, however, assured that it is not leaving anything to chance in ensuring that intensive and extensive security is provided for election personnel, materials, and processes.
Mahmood said: “We all appreciate 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.
“This is particularly significant to the commission, given the current insecurity challenges in various parts 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 election 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”.
Attacks on the Commission’s offices, personnel, and other critical facilities, have assumed a disturbing dimension, especially in the Southeast part of the country.
In Imo, Enugu and Ebonyi states, INEC offices have been razed by hoodlums and gunmen, resulting in the death of personnel and massive destruction of election materials.
The attacks seem to be more prevalent in Imo State, where four offices, including the state headquarters, were attacked by gunmen in less than three weeks.
In the attack on the Commission’s headquarters in Owerri, the Imo State capital, three of the hoodlums and one Police Officer were killed
Three days after the Owerri attack, another INEC office was razed by gunmen in Orlu Local Government Area of the state.
In Abeokuta South Local Government Area in Ogun State, 65,000 Permanent Voters Card (PVC) were destroyed when INEC office was set ablaze by armed thugs.
According to INEC spokesperson, Festus Okoye, “the incident occurred around 1.15am when some unidentified persons overpowered the security personnel on duty and set the entire building ablaze.
“The main building and all the commission’s movable assets in the office were destroyed. They include 904 ballot boxes, 29 voting cubicles, 30 megaphones, 57 election bags, 8 electric power generators and 65,699 uncollected permanent voters cards (PVCs).”
The Commission’s office was also attacked in Osun State.
Okoye said: “Similarly, the Resident Electoral Commissioner for Osun State, Dr. Mutiu Agboke, reported that our office in Ede South local government area was attacked and set ablaze.”
“The incident occurred in the early hours of this morning when some unidentified persons attacked the building and set a portion of it ablaze.