Attacks threatening 2023 polls – INEC

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Abuja, Dec. 20, 2022 – The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has expressed fears that continued attacks on its facilities can threaten the success of the 2023 elections.

Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, the INEC Chairman, expressed the fears in Abuja on Monday at a two-day workshop on political violence and election security organised by the National Defence College in collaboration with African Global Empowerment and Development Network.

He called for an end to the attacks on its facilities as well as the insecurity ravaging parts of the country if the commission must conduct free, fair, and credible elections in 2023.

Yakubu said the attacks could impede the successful conduct of the polls if they continued till next year.

He also said if the insecurity could affect candidates’ chances of having the required number of votes stipulated by the constitution to be declared the winner.

The chairman, who was represented by Festus Okoye, an INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education, said the commission was preparing well for the 2023 general elections.

“Although, we have recorded some reverses in some of the states of the federation in relation to attacks on some of our facilities leading to the destruction of ballot boxes, voting cubicles, and permanent voter cards. We have the capacity to recover from these attacks.

“Since the 2019 general elections up till 2022, we have recorded 50 attacks in 15 states of the federation. The ones we recorded in 2022 are the ones we considered systematic and coordinated. They are targeted at derailing our commission from conducting free and credible elections. We are recovering and will recover.

“But if these attacks continue to January and February next year, it will be difficult for us to recover. This is because if you look at Section 134 of the constitution, there are thresholds that a candidate must meet before he or she can be declared a winner of any election.

“For instance, if no winner emerges on February 25, the law says we have to conduct a second election within 21 days and only two candidates out of the 18 will participate in this second election.

“The candidate that records the highest number of votes in that election would be considered number one. The second will be the candidate that secures the majority of votes in the majority of the states.

‘’The constitution did not say it is the person who came second. Also, If for instance, we are unable to conduct elections in some of the local governments it will definitely affect the calculation of the threshold required to make a declaration.

“We also have a constitutionally prescribed window with which we must conduct elections, so if we have sustained insecurity in the country, it may be difficult for the country to achieve this mandate given to us,” he said.

Yakubu said that the commission had sought the help of the National Assembly as well as the security agencies to ensure that its offices and staff’s security were given priority.

He said the commission had commenced the replacement of materials lost to the various attacks, assuring that the BVAS machines needed for the 2023 elections would be made available before the end of the year.

“We don’t want distractions. That is why we have made it very clear to the National Assembly that all our offices must be declared as a high priority that needs adequate protection. We don’t want these attacks to continue although we have assurance from the security agencies to protect our staff and offices.

“Already, we are reprinting the PVC damaged in some of the attacks; we are also purchasing new cubicles and ballot boxes to replace the ones lost to the attacks. We are trying to rent offices for those we can’t repair.

“But I want to assure Nigerians that we are prepared for this election. The entire BVAS needed for this election will be on the ground before the end of the month,’’ he said. (GBN).

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