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INEC, Security Agencies, IPAC and Civil Society Discuss Preparations Ahead of 2023 General Elections

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), representatives of security agencies, civil society organisations, and the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC) came together to discuss preparations for the 2023 general elections at a National Stakeholders’ Forum on Elections that held on Wednesday, 23rd November 2022, in Abuja. The Forum, themed “Role of Stakeholders in Ensuring Free, Fair Peaceful and credible Elections” was organised by the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room with support from the United Kingdom Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).

In her welcome remarks, Situation Room Convener, Ene Obi, noted that the interventions of Situation Room and its partner organisations have contributed to the improvement of the electoral process, holding stakeholders accountable and enlightening citizens. She stated that the Situation Room Credibility Threshold Document for the 2023 General Elections, which was launched in December 2021, would be the basis by which the platform will analyse the elections. She expressed concern over the fact that Nigeria’s  2023 general elections will take place in the context of a grave security crisis. Obi reiterated Situation Room’s commitment to continue to work towards the improvement of Nigeria’s elections, to ensure that the process is free, fair and reflects the choice of citizens.

INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu who spoke about the Commission’s readiness for the elections, stated that INEC is engaging with institutions with capacity to track funds and vote buying such as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), which have now become members of the Inter-agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES). He stated that INEC is determined to address issues of campaign finance and will mobilise every national institution with responsibility for tracking and combating illicit flow of funds, as well as broadcast and print media regulatory agencies, to confront the problem. He further stated that the Commission will release the timelines and procedure for the collection of Permanent Voter’s Cards (PVCs) in due course.

Representatives of the Nigeria Police at the Stakeholders’ Forum, DCP Moorkwap Donghai and ACP Onaghise Osayande provided some insight into the preparations of the Police for the elections. According to them, the primary purpose of the Police in elections is to provide election security, which is the protection of all election personnel, voters and election materials within the pre-election, election and post-election periods. They noted that Police personnel on election duty are expected to be at alert, approachable, conversant with the electoral law; professional in their conduct, possess proper identification, work in partnership with other stakeholders and refrain from using force. They further stated that the Inspector General of Police has mandated that all Police personnel know what is expected of them in terms of election duty as stipulated in the Code of Conduct and Rules of Engagement for Security Personnel on Election Duty, 2020. 

The representative of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) noted that the nonchalant attitude of security agents at polling locations to offences such as vote buying, as observed in the 2022 Osun governorship election, is a challenge that should be addressed by collective efforts. People should be able to speak up when they notice any anomalies. 

Other stakeholders contributed to the conversation by making recommendations to improve the electoral process. Ene Obi assured that Situation Room will continue to work towards improving Nigeria’s elections, in order to ensure that the process is free, fair and reflects the choice of citizens.