…March 18 elections contest, not war – INEC
The National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno, has described the forthcoming governorship and state Houses of Assembly elections as complicated, adding that security agencies do not envisage violence.
Monguno stated this on Tuesday at the meeting of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security in Abuja.
He stated that a lot of meetings had been ongoing, especially with the Chief of Defence Staff and the Inspector of Police, which as a result, the security agencies do not foresee any form of violence.
Monguno noted, “Of course, the elections on Saturday are going to be much more complicated, and contextually different. First of all, we are going to have 1021 constituencies which mean more people are interested, and more people to vote. Obviously, the dynamics would be much more different than the elections that were just concluded.
“For the security agencies, I know a lot has been done. I have been talking with the Chief of Defence Staff, and with the Inspector General of Police, who is the head of the lead agency in the process of elections.
“So far, so good, we do not envisage anything that is going to be terrible or apocalyptic in the next few days. But that does not mean that we should all do away with our state of readiness. We must comply with the rules. We must also allow everyone to exercise their fundamental rights as citizens of this country.”
The NSA urged political parties and candidates to demonstrate high levels of discipline and maturity during and after the polls, advising them to call their supporters to order.
“While commending the efforts of the various political parties and the individuals that participated in the last elections, especially those of them that called for peace and calm, I want to also urge same individuals, especially at the state level to demonstrate the same level of maturity, discipline by calling their supporters to conduct themselves in a manner that is congruent with the expectations of a larger Nigerian society. Of course, there are channels for laying and addressing complaints.
“What we do not want to happen is for anybody to take the law into his or her own hands. We are going to give the maximum support to all entities involved in this process. And we are also calling on political parties to call their people to order.”
In his remarks, the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, advised political parties to caution their supporters, stating that the March 18 elections are a contest and not war.
He urged the IGP to handle all cases of electoral offences as the commission looks forward to receiving the case files.
Yakubu explained, “The governorship and state assembly elections this weekend involve more constituencies than the national elections held about three weeks ago. Unlike the last elections involving 470 constituencies (1 Presidential, 109 Senatorial Districts and 360 House of Representatives seats), the state elections will involve 1,021 constituencies (28 governorship and 993 State Assembly seats). There will also be more candidates involved and more collation centres to protect. There are also local elections involving keen contests.
“It is therefore important for parties and candidates to speak to their agents and supporters to see the elections as a contest and not war. They should refrain from acts of violence that may mar the elections or compromise the security of our personnel, observers, the media and service providers.
“The commission is encouraged by the directive to state commands by the Inspector General of Police to handle all cases of electoral offences expeditiously. We look forward to receiving the case files. We will immediately set up a legal team to handle such cases in earnest.”