The Independence National Electoral Commission (INEC) has resolved to conduct the Anambra State governorship election on the earlier date of November 6. This is despite threats from the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) to halt the exercise. This was disclosed by the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, during an emergency meeting on Tuesday. INEC however expressed concern that the IPOB threat might affect preparations and possibly the conduct of the Anambra election.
The INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu expressed the concern at an emergency meeting of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) in Abuja on Tuesday. Yakubu said that INEC was particularly concerned about the safety of voters and election duty staff, including security officials who have also become targets of the attacks. He said that INEC was also concerned about the safety of thousands of young Nigerians from National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) and university students who were to be engaged in the conduct of the election. Yakubu said that during the last ICCES quarterly meeting on Sept. 9, a major concern was raised by the committee on the security situation in Anambra and the adjoining states.
Yakubu said that unfortunately, the situation had deteriorated since the last meeting, as many innocent lives had been lost and property destroyed in the state. “From reports that we have received, the stated goal of many of the attackers is that the governorship election scheduled for Nov. 6 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,” he said. Yakubu said that in May 2021 the INEC office at Awka was attacked and all the non-sensitive materials assembled for the election were destroyed.
He added that the commission’s store, collation centre and the main office building were either totally or substantially damaged, while INEC also lost several vehicles billed 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.
Yakubu, while assuring that the process of the election would proceed as planned, said that INEC would sustain working with security agencies and respected opinion leaders in the state to ensure the success of the election.
The chairman added that to underscore the determination, INEC would implement two more activities on the timetable for the election in the next few days.
These according to him, includes the presentation of the register of voters to political parties in Awka and the publication of a final list of candidates for the election on Thursday, Oct. 7.
He expressed confidence that at the end of the meeting, INEC would tie up specific measures to guarantee the safety of all the people to be involved in the election from voters, election officials, observers, and media organisations among others.