The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday gave all political parties in the country 24 hours to regularise the data of their party agents participating in the 2019 general elections.
The Commission gave tomorrow as deadline after a meeting with its Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) in all the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja yesterday.
The meeting was called by the Commission to review its state of readiness for the general elections starting on February 16, 2019 with the presidential and National Assembly elections and ending on 2nd March 2019 with the governorship and State Assembly elections.
LEADERSHIP Sunday gathered that the Commission was giving this ultimatum after it noticed that most of the political parties had missed the February 1 deadline for supplying the full complement of the data of their agents for the presidential poll.
In a statement issued by INEC national commissioner and chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Barr Festus Okoye, after the meeting, the electoral commission noted that despite the time given to political parties to submit the list of its agents participating in the elections, only few have complied.
It said: “The Commission in its Timetable and Schedule of Activities for this year’s General Elections published on January 9, 2018 fixed February 1, 2019 as the last date for the submission of the names, two passport photographs of each polling agent and their sample signatures for the Presidential and National Assembly elections and February 16, 2019.
“The Commission is concerned that a week after the deadline for the submission of the list of poll agents for presidential and National Assembly elections and less than three weeks to the deadline for the submission of the list of candidates for the governorship and State Assembly elections, only few political parties have complied with the extant provisions of the law. Most of the lists submitted are not accompanied by the photographs and specimen signatures of the poll/party agents as required by law.
“The Commission has decided as follows: all political parties that submitted incomplete applications without the specimen signatures and photographs of the poll/party agents are strongly requested to regularise this on or before close of work on Monday the 11th February, 2019.
“All political parties are reminded that February 16, 2019 is the last day for the submission of the names, photographs and specimen signatures of poll/party agents for the governorship, State Assembly and Area Council elections.
“Any list of poll/party agents that is not accompanied by specimen signatures and photographs of poll/party agents will be rejected.
“It is unlawful for political parties to deploy poll/party agents whose names have not been forwarded to the Commission and duly accredited in accordance with the law. The security agents have been so informed and no recognition, right or privilege will be accorded to anyone not accredited by the Commission.”
It, therefore, mandated the security agencies in the country to ensure that any agent that is not properly accredited should not be allowed near any polling unit.
While urging political parties to abide by the deadline, the commission said it decided to draw the attention of the registered political parties and members of the public to the provisions of the law regarding the submission of names of polling/party agents by political parties based on Section 45 (1) of the Electoral Act 2010 as amended which provides that:
“Each political party may, by notice in writing addressed to the Electoral Officer of the Local Government Area or Area Council, appoint a polling agent for each polling unit and collation centre in the Local Government Area or Area Council for which it has a candidate and the notice, which sets out the name and address of the polling agent shall be accompanied by two passport photographs of each polling agent and sample signature of the polling agent and be given to the Electoral Officer at least 14 days before the date fixed for the election.”
…Commission moves to tackle flashpoints
Meanwhile, INEC yesterday said it was ready to ensure smooth elections across the country, including places where there is fear of possible election violence.
Part of the measures, it was gathered, has to do with the deployment of security personnel for the election.
It was gathered that the Nigeria Police Force, which is the lead agency for election security, had often been deployed in elections without consultation with INEC.
But this time around, Commission is resolved to exercise its constitutional right over election security management, especially the deployment of personnel.
But while acknowledging that other security agencies will play a supportive role to the Nigeria Police during the election, the chairman of INEC, Prof Mahmood Yakubu had hinted that the commission needs a new security architecture for the 2019 general elections consistent with the provisions of the law.
In an interview with LEADERSHIP Sunday, the chief press secretary to the INEC chairman, Mr Rotimi Oyekanmi said the commission was fully prepared for the 2019 general elections adding that the commission would work with the security agencies to ensure a smooth process.
“The Commission will work in partnership with security agencies to implement the deployment plan for the general election.
“Don’t forget that the Commission holds regular quarterly meeting of the Inter Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) where substantive election security issues are discussed,” Oyekanmi added.
LEADERSHIP Sunday reports that Section 29 (3) of the Electoral Act 2010 as amended provides as follows: ”Notwithstanding the provisions of any other law and for purposes of securing the vote, the Commission shall be responsible for requesting for the deployment of relevant security personnel necessary for elections or registration of voters and shall assign them in a manner to be determined by the Commission in consultation with the relevant security agencies – provided that the Commission shall only request for the deployment of the Nigerian Armed Forces only for the purposes of securing the distribution and delivery of election materials and protection of election officials.”
The Commission had earlier identified some communities in Abia, Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Plateau, Bayelsa, Borno, Zamfara, Kaduna, Cross River, Bauchi, Oyo, Yobe, Benue, Kogi, Nasarawa, Imo, Osun, Ondo and Kano States as possible flash points where election violence could occur.
On the flashpoints, Oyekanmi said it was a security matter that cannot be discussed on the pages of newspapers.
“Security is very critical to the success of the 2019 general elections by all standards. But the Commission is confident that the security agencies are on top of their game. They have assured INEC that they are equal to the task and there is no reason to doubt them,” he said.
FG to shut borders for 72 hours
The federal government is likely to order a 72-hour closure of all land and sea borders from midnight on Thursday, February 14 until midnight on Sunday.
The planned directive, according to a ministry of Interior source, is aimed at ensuring the smooth conduct of the presidential and National Assembly elections slated to hold across all the states of the federation on Saturday, February 16, 2019.
The source further explained that land and sea borders would be closed to allow security agencies to effectively monitor activities in the country during the elections.
The nation’s land borders would equally be temporary closed before the governorship and state houses of assembly elections.
LEADERSHIP Sunday however learnt that the air space would be open for air travel in and out of the country during the elections.
Minister of Interior, Lt. Gen. Abdrahaman Dambazau (rtd) corroborated this at the weekend , when he acknowledged that all land, sea and airports would be temporarily closed during elections.
The minister of interior also gave the assurance that security operatives would do everything possible to secure country’s borders to halt the infiltration of aliens.
Meanwhile, the minister has unveiled an integrated and single mobile application, Nigeria Internal Security and Public Safety Alert System (NISPSAS).
The integrated App was developed by the Federal Ministry of Interior to assist the public to get prompt response to emergencies and other public safety concerns.
Launching the App yesterday in Abuja, Dambazau explained that the initiative is in line with the cardinal objective of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari towards improving the personal safety of Nigerians.
He disclosed that all mobile applications of the paramilitary agencies under the Ministry of Interior would be linked to the one-stop mobile App.
The minister further disclosed that the project was mainly to monitor activities within the country and respond to emergencies. He encouraged Nigerians to utilise the App by sending emergency alerts to save lives and property and thus promote internal security.
Dambazau noted that the newly unveiled App had the capability to dictate emergencies and respond to fire distress, accidents, medical alert and joint ambulance mobilisation.
The minister explained that the App, which also has the data base of registered motor parks across the nation, can also prevent unidentified taxi drivers from picking passengers.
He said disaster warning, broadcast of safety messages, crime alert, vigilante, national passports, private security guards, especially bank fraud, among others, had been integrated into the one-stop mobile app.
The minister advised Nigerians to log into the App via google play store, NISPSAS.