The Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, on Wednesday called for a new approach to the deployment of security personnel for the 2019 general elections.
Yakubu made the call at the quarterly consultative meeting of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security.
He said that learning from the experience of some of the 195 off-season elections conducted since 2015, it had become pertinent to draw attention to the need for a different approach to the deployment of security forces during elections.
He said: “The Nigeria Police Force remains the lead agency for election security.
“Other security agencies will play a supportive role to the Nigeria Police.
“However, we need a new security architecture for 2019 consistent with the provision of Section 29 (3) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended), which provides as follows:
“29 (3) Notwithstanding the provisions of any other law and for purposes of securing the vote, the Commission shall be responsible for requesting for the deployment of relevant security personnel necessary for elections or registration of voters and shall assign them in a manner to be determined by the Commission in consultation with the relevant security agencies:
“Provided that the Commission shall only request for the deployment of the Nigerian Armed Forces only for the purposes of securing the distribution and delivery of election materials and protection of election officials.”
Yakubu said the meeting would discuss modalities for actualising the provision of the law, adding that INEC was committed to ensuring that elections were organised in a manner that security agencies “are not perceived to be running parallel arrangement with INEC. Rather, it should strictly be INEC’s plan for the election that should be implemented”.
Yakubu further said the meeting was convened primarily to update members of ICCES on INEC’s preparations for the 2019 General Elections.
He added that the meeting was also an opportunity to hear from the security agencies on their preparations so far.
He expressed appreciation for the collaboration between security agencies, saying it facilitated the smooth conduct of the Continuous Voter Registration over a period of 16 months – April 27, 2017 to August 31, 2018, when it was suspended.
Yakubu disclosed that the exercise would start again immediately after the general elections.
Major General Mohammed Monguno, the National Security Adviser to the President, represented by Idowu Owohunwa, assured the commission of his office’s readiness to provide the requisite leadership and the coordination for the security agencies in ensuring a credible electoral process.
Monguno said: “It is actually in furtherance of this that we organised the election security management workshop for security agencies just to prepare them for their functions during the electoral process.
“I have seen that there are very important issues to be discussed here.
“I am sure these are things that the NSA I will also be interested in, not only in the details but also areas we can offer further supports to the commission and committees in moving the process forward.”
The meeting was attended by heads and representatives of various security agencies, including military and paramilitary agencies in the country.