By Shola Akingboye, October 5, 2021
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has vowed that the November 6 Anambra governorship election will proceed as scheduled despite the deteriorating security situation in the State,
INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, stated this at the emergency meeting of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES).
According to the Commission, available intelligence revealed that the intention of those attacking its offices and other public institutions in the State is to ensure that the governorship election does not hold.
He noted that the importance of election security in a governorship election has never been this urgent.
Yakubu however warmed that should INEC again lose vital materials and facilities, the ongoing preparations for the election will be adversely affected.
According to him: “From the reports we have received, the stated goal of many of the attackers is that the Governorship election scheduled for 6th November 2021 must not hold.
“This is worrisome for the Commission. We are deeply concerned that specific electoral facilities and materials could once more become targets of attack. Recall that in May this year, our State Office at Awka was attacked and all the non-sensitive materials assembled for the election at the time were destroyed. In addition, our store, collation centre and the main office building were either totally or substantially damaged. The Commission also lost several vehicles to be used for the election.
“Happily, we have almost fully recovered from that attack. The destroyed buildings have either been completely repaired or are nearing completion and we have fully replaced the materials destroyed.
“This rapid recovery has only been possible because this is an off-season election. We have sourced some of these materials such as the 326 electric generators and vehicles destroyed in the attack from neighbouring States.
“However, should we again lose vital materials and facilities, the ongoing preparations will be adversely affected”.
He added: “We wish to assure the people of Anambra State that the Commission is determined to proceed with the election as scheduled. To underscore this determination, the Commission is implementing two more activities on the timetable for the election in the next few days.
“The register of voters will be presented to political parties in Awka on Thursday 7th October 2021. On the same day, the Commission will publish the final list of candidates for the election.
“We are confident that at the end of this meeting, we will firm up on specific measures necessary to further guarantee the safety of all persons involved in the election from the voters, election officials, observers, media organisations and the security of election materials”
Meanwhile, INEC, has also reiterated its readiness to deploy relevant and appropriate technology for the conduct of the Anambra State governorship election.
The Commission also disclosed that it will use its new technological device to upload polling unit level results to its central result viewing portal.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, made the disclosures at a programme organised by the INEC Press Corp on ‘inclusive election in Anambra State and beyond’ at the International Conference Center Abuja.
According to Yakubu, who was represented by the National Commissioner and Chairman Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, “the Commission will also deploy relevant and appropriate technology for the conduct of the Anambra State Governorship election.
“To this end, the Commission will deploy the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) for the accreditation of voters. The bimodal accreditation system will use fingerprints or facials for efficient voter accreditation.
“Therefore, those engaged in identity theft must steer clear of the polling units in Anambra State as only voters that are properly authenticated using their fingerprints or facials will be allowed to vote.
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“The Commission will also use its new technological device to upload polling unit level results to its central result viewing portal. Nigerians that have access to internet facilities can log in and view the results as they are being uploaded. For this, we have commenced elaborate voter education and publicity activities in the State”.
He continued, “The Commission is determined to conduct a good election in Anambra State and all its processes and procedures are geared and targeted at achieving this objective. We assure the people of Anambra State and indeed all Nigerians that the votes of the people will be the only determinant of leadership succession in Anambra State.
“We therefore appeal to all the critical stakeholders to rally round the Commission and give their maximum cooperation towards this goal. The Commission needs a safe and secure environment for efficient and professional deployment of staff and materials. We must realize that young men and women doing their National Youth Service form the bulk of our Presiding Officers. Some of them are the only sons and daughters of their parents. Some of them graduated from school through determined perseverance in the face of hardship.
“Some of them are the products of community effort while some of them did menial jobs to graduate. We therefore have a responsibility to protect them in the performance of this national assignment.
“No form of insurance can cover for the loss of one life and the Commission will on no account compromise on the safety and welfare of these individuals and all other staff that will be deployed for the election.
“We are fully aware of the fluid security situation in Anambra State and different parts of the country and we will continue to work with the Inter Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security at the National, State and Local Governments towards securing the electoral environment.
“The voters must be assured of their security and must feel confident approaching the polling units to exercise their democratic franchise.