The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has warned that it will be adopting entirely different security architecture in the deployment of security forces for the 2019 general elections.
INEC Chairman Mahmood Yakubu made the disclosure during the regular quarterly consultative meeting of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (CCES) in Abuja, emphasising that the Nigeria police will be the lead agency for election security.
Pleading for collaboration among the security agencies in facilitating the smooth conduct of the exercise, the INEC boss clarified that the Commission shall deploy the Nigerian Armed Forces only for the purposes of securing the distribution and delivery of election materials and protection of election officials.
He said: “It is 37 days to the 2019 General Elections. Campaigns have commenced nationwide and our preparations have reached an advanced level. We have so far accomplished 10 out of 14 activities on the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for the election.
“The four outstanding activities are the publication of the list of candidates, the submission of the names
of polling agents by political parties, the last day of campaign and the dates for the two categories of elections. For emphasis, the Presidential and National Assembly elections will hold on Saturday February 16, 2019 followed by the Governorship, State Assembly and Area Council elections in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to be held on Saturday March 2, 2019.
“In continuation of our preparations for the election, the Commission undertook a nationwide registration of voters and integrated the new registrants to the national register of voters for the 2019 General Elections. As a result, the final register now stands at 84,004,084 voters. This is simply the largest database of citizens in Africa and one of the largest voter registers in the world.
“We appreciate the collaboration of security agencies in facilitating the smooth conduct of the exercise. The Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) for new registrants as well as those who are already registered but had requested for transfer of their registrations to other locations or the replacement of PVCs for various reasons have been reprinted and available for collection.
“This meeting is convened primarily to update members of ICCES on our preparations for the 2019 General Elections. It is also an opportunity to hear from the security agencies on your preparations so far. However, learning from the experience of some of the 195 off-season elections conducted since 2015, it is pertinent to draw our attention to the need for a different approach to the deployment of security forces during elections.
“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.”