Ondo

INEC chairman tasks security agencies on hitch-free process

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Ahead of the November 16 governorship election in Ondo state, the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu on Monday, tasked security agencies on a hitch-free process, by providing an enabling environment for the conduct of the election.

Yakubu who made this call while meeting with various security agencies in Akure, the Ondo state capital, to strategise on security for the November governorship election, noted that without a secure and peaceful environment, elections would be endangered.

Yakubu said the meeting with security heads became imperative to brainstorm and strategise ahead on how to ensure and achieve seamless exercise and to guide against incidences that could manifest in the buildup to the November 16 governorship election.

Meeting with the heads of the security agencies, which include, the Police, Department of State Service (DSS), Nigerian Correctional Service, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), and Nigeria Immigration Service.

Others include Nigerian Army, Nigeria Customs Service, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Federal Fire Service, and National Orientation Agency (NOA).

The INEC boss, however, assured the residents of the state of a hitch-free electoral process, just as he admonished politicians to play by the rules.

He expressed assurance that the electoral umpire is not a political party, hence, the responsibility of electing the next governor of the state lies with the people.

He said: “We can’t succeed in delivering electoral activities and the elections unless the electoral environment is secured for us. And until critical stakeholders are sensitised.

“This is going to be the third governorship election conducted by the present commission in Ondo State. I was here in 2016 for the same purpose; I was here in 2020 for the governorship election; and by God’s grace, we’ll be here again in November 2024 for yet another governorship election.

“I want to assure all registered voters in Ondo State that they should continue to troop out in their numbers to register and come out and collect their PVCs from the current registration, but we also have literally over 200,000 uncollected PVCs from the last exercise.”

The INEC Chairman stated that “this is an essential routine meeting we had with the Commissioner of Police and members of the Inter Agencies Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) in Ondo State to review our preparation for the forthcoming governorship election.

“So, we reviewed the challenges generally. There are areas with issues that are known; there is nothing extraordinary requiring some extraordinary action, but we recognised the need for us to continue to be vigilant when working with security agencies.

“All the flash points have been identified, including the types of threats across the 18 local government areas, and we have shared the information with the security agencies who will do the needful.

“My appeal to political leaders in Ondo State as well as the population is to continue to keep the peace. We have had no major adverse reports as we prepare for the elections. We are confident that it will remain the same into the election and beyond”

While speaking, the State Commissioner for Police, Abayomi Oladipupo, disclosed that the deployment of security personnel for the election had already been done, saying there is an existing synergy between the sister security agencies in the state to ensure a smooth process.

Oladipupo said “Election security is not new to us as an agency of government that is charged with internal security operations. We are fully prepared in conjunction with our sister security agencies, whom you have seen around.

“At the moment, we have deployed for continuous voter registration, which is ongoing, and that is the reason we appreciate the coming of the INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, who has come to interface with us to know our challenges and the level of our preparation.

“You should be rest assured that the Inspector General of Police, IGP Kayode Egbetokun, has mandated the deployment of personnel for this election that is coming up in November.

“The deployment has been done; those who are coming for the election already know. We are deploying a robust number of personnel.

“Be rest assured that with the synergy and support of security agencies, as you have seen around, we are good to go. This is an off-cycle election, and getting personnel to perform this task should not be a problem for us.”

The Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in the state, Mrs. Oluwatoyin Babalola, also said, “Security is critical in the protection of electoral personnel, locations, and processes; ensuring that voters exercise their civic duties without fear or hindrance; providing a level playing field for all political parties and campaigns; protecting domestic and foreign observers while discharging their duties and obligations; and maintaining the overall integrity of the democratic and electoral processes.

“The security of the electoral process builds the confidence of the voters, political parties, and the public in the credibility of the process.”

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