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INEC Elections: Police 40, others reassure Nigerians of adequate preparations

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INEC The Independent National Electoral Commission and the Nigeria Police have pledged determination to ensure fair and credible general elections in the South East and the country at large.
The stakeholders assured residents of Zone that the general elections would hold notwithstanding the few security challenges.

They are optimistic that far reaching security strategies had been put in place by the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) to ensure violent-free, peaceful and most credible elections in the zone.

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Dr. Chukwuemeka Chukwu, the INEC Resident Electoral Commission (REC) in Enugu State, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Enugu that the poll would “certainly hold,” echoing INEC Chairman Prof. Mahmud Yakubu’s comments from London.

Chukwu stated that in order to guarantee strong security in the state moving ahead, the ICCES had developed a security strategy that would not be made public.

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Additionally, he claimed that the state would have impenetrable security prior to, throughout, and following the elections.

“Enugu State will undoubtedly hold an election. We are planning elections that will be more transparent, credible, and peaceful than any others ever held in the state’s history, so the people of Enugu should calm down.

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“Everything will take place both here and in other regions of Nigeria, and we’re working nonstop to make sure it goes smoothly.

Even while we are aware that the state’s security situation has been improving for some time, he continued, “people should not harbor fear.”

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In a similar spirit, Mr. Ahmed Ammani, the state’s commissioner of police, gave locals assurances that the poll would go on as planned.

According to Ammani, the police will work with other security authorities to address any pockets of violence or activities by a small number of dissidents in the state.

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The commissioner, who also serves as co-Chairman of ICCES in Enugu State, claimed that the state’s security agencies and formations have developed plans to maintain the state’s overall safety and tranquility.

“The security authorities will respond swiftly and forcefully to the few illegal acts committed by a small number of dissidents.

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I can tell troublemakers and election saboteurs that anyone attempting to compromise the security of the election will be held accountable for their actions, he said.a

In a joint statement, Comrade Gabriel Odi, Chairman of the Coalition of Enugu State Political Parties Youth Leaders, stated that the youths were promoting a nonviolent election among the younger population in order to contribute to the success of the polls.

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“The Vote and Do Not Fight Campaign, launched by the coalition is permeating all political wards and we want youths to imbibe the culture of civility and decorum towards elections.

“We believe that the election will hold and that is why we are investing in it with our resources and time to ensure we make it credible and devoid of violence,” Odi said.

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The INEC in Ebonyi says the ongoing collection of the Permanent Voter Cards (PVC) is a critical aspect of its preparation for the conduct of the 2023 general elections.

Mrs Pauline Onyeka, the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Ebonyi, told NAN in Abakaliki, that the commission would not leave any stone unturned in its determination to conduct credible free and fair elections in the state.

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According to her, the Feb. 25 and March 11 presidential, National Assembly and Governorship as well as state House of Assembly dates are sacrosanct.

Onyeka disclosed that enough logistics arrangements had been put in place for a seamless exercise.

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She said that the commission had been collaborating with the relevant stakeholders on election matters to enhance the speed of distribution and collection of the PVC in the state.

The REC however, called for more effective collaboration between it and the various stakeholders to accelerate the speed of collection of PVCs by owners within the extended period.

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Onyeka said that as part of preparations for the conduct of hitch-free elections, the commission held an expanded stakeholders’ interactive meeting in December where it briefed the stakeholders on the level of preparation ahead of the scheduled elections.

The REC urged collaboration with stakeholders to raise awareness of the problem among the public and stated that the commission was prepared to ensure that all registered voters in the state picked up their cards within the INEC’s allotted time limit.

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She emphasized that anyone lacking a voter card would not be permitted to cast a ballot on election day and that the continual gathering of voter cards was essential to the administration of elections.

“We’ve made adequate logistical preparations to ensure a smooth run of the elections in February and March; all we’re asking is that the electorate turn in their PVC during the current collection effort, which has been extended by eight days.

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Every registered voter who has not yet picked up their voter card must take advantage of this chance because it is not possible to cast a ballot on election day without a PVC.

It is known that my predecessor met with members of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security, traditional leaders, the media, and the leadership of the political parties who were present in Ebonyi (ICCES).

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“At those meetings, the commission provided stakeholders with updates on its calendar, program of events, and general election preparedness.

“I have equally had a meeting with the members of ICCES at which I expressed concern about the burning down of INEC offices in the state in particular and the South-East as a whole by hoodlums.

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“As part of security arrangements to protect our facilities and property, I had requested that security be beefed up in all the offices and the centres for collection of PVCs and security agencies had assured us of adequate protection of INEC offices and staff,” Onyeka said.

While promising sufficient security before, during, and after the polls, Mr. Aliyu Garba, Commissioner of Police in Ebonyi, spoke to NAN about security measures for the election. He also urged the public to report any security breaches in their communities.

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However, the police chief urged locals and important stakeholders to help the police secure INEC facilities located in their communities.

In an interview, a traditional leader named Eze Charles Mkpuma expressed his concern about the terrible security situation in different parts of the nation and urged security authorities to be prepared for the difficulties.

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The Ebonyi Council of Traditional Rulers’ Chairman, Mkpuma, pledged the assistance and cooperation of the state’s royal fathers in encouraging their citizens to obtain their PVCs.

Before, during, and after the elections, Mkpuma added, “the police and other law enforcement authorities should undertake necessary security preparations to ensure the protection of people’s lives and property.”

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In the meantime, the commission recently calmed Nigerians’ concerns about the likelihood of the poll being postponed owing to insecurity in a statement through its chairman, Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu, by emphasizing that the election would proceed as scheduled.

A cross section of Awka locals in Anambra have accused failed and overzealous politicians of being to blame for the rise in violent attacks on INEC offices.

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According to Mr. Osita Obi, National Coordinator of the pressure organization Recover Nigeria Project, burning INEC buildings and other public buildings is a deliberate political tactic used by some disgraced politicians to undermine their rivals’ electoral advantages.

Obi claims that all of these politicians are intentionally causing trouble in the strongholds of their rivals in order to get the electoral umpire to delay the holding of elections there.

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“When after the conduct of the general elections, a date is fixed for election in such places, the masses might not be willing to participate due to fear of possible eruption of violence,” he said.

Another respondent from Awka, Mr Tony Ezike, corroborated the position of Obi saying that politicians were complicit over such attacks.

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“It has been long since bad eggs began to attack the facilities of INEC, police stations and other public facilities all with the intention to derail the elections,” he said.

Obi said, however, that common Nigerians are actually quite prepared for the electoral process because they want a change in how the government is running its resources.

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Police were prepared for the polls, according to DSP Tochukwu Ikenga, Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Anambra Command.

In Awka, INEC’s Head of Department (HOD) Voter Education and Publicity, Mr. George Edeani, stated that the Commission was already finalizing preparations for the polls.

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“Already, the non-sensitive materials are in the various local government areas, we are currently distributing the Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) at various wards.

“What we are telling those who registered and were given the temporary cards is to ensure they go and collect their PVC because without the permanent voters cards, they will not be allowed to vote,” he said.

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Edeani claimed that INEC had been educating local leaders about the need to put an end to the practice of destroying INEC infrastructure.

He claimed that the conduct was detrimental because it ultimately hurt both the arsonists and the general populace.

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Edeani, however, pleaded to God for the individuals who are damaging INEC and other public buildings to alter their minds.

 

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