The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said it would not be requesting deployment from the army for election operations.
A National Commissioner with INEC, Festus Okoye said this on Wednesday in Abuja at the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room preliminary briefing on the state of preparedness for the 2019 General Elections.
He said in relation to the role of the military in the election, the Electoral Act was amended in 2015 to give INEC specific functions in relation to deployment of the police and the military in elections.
“For this election, we are utilizing the services of the Nigerian Air Force in lifting sensitive materials to various states and to also lift within the states to difficult terrains. Secondly, for riverine areas, INEC will hire gunboats that will escort both sensitive materials and elections personnel to the riverine areas. That will be the extent to which we will use the military for the purposes of this election,” he said
Okoye, who is also the Chairman of INEC’s Committee on Information and Voter Education, however added that, “The military is engaged in internal security operations in almost 32 states of the federation and they are going to remain and do their internal security operations which have nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with the conduct of elections. So INEC will continue with the conduct of the elections while the military will continue with their internal security operations in the states where they are presently engaged in internal security operations.
“We are good to go. We had some challenges but we were able to recover. As I speak, we are moving all the Smart Card Readers required for the conduct of the election to Anambra State and we are not going to postpone the election in any part of Nigeria.”
He also revealed that there would be two collation officers for each of the 8,809 Registration Area (RAs) and also two collation officers for each of the 744 LGAs.
“So, the collation officer for the presidential election will be different, collate and proceed from the RAs through the LGAs to the state before it is brought to the National Collation Centre in the FCT while the collation officer for the Senatorial and House of Representatives elections will move and stop at a certain point where declaration would be made,” he said.
He also said that elections would be conducted at all the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps.
In his goodwill message, the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General for West Africa and the Sahel, Mohamed Ibn Chambas expressed hopes that the security agencies will play their roles in a manner that will not compromise the electoral process.
Others that also expressed similar hopes for a free, fair and credible elections include the Head of European Union Delegation to Nigeria, Ketil Karlsen; the United States Ambassador to Nigeria, William Stuart Symington and the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing.
On his part, the convener of Situation Room, Clement Nwankwo said their observation of the 2019 general elections will take into cognisance the election environment and use INEC’s preparedness for the election as a basis for assessing its conduct of the polls.
He further called on INEC and other stakeholders to meet the thresholds outlined by Situation Room in its Threshold document earlier launched.
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