Rising Attacks, Vote-Buying Threaten Polls, INEC Cries Out

Commission says violence may mar election, prevent presidential poll winner from emerging

•Electoral body plans supplementary budget to replace destroyed buildings, equipment, others

•IG, EFCC boss warn politicians against inducement, survey puts 33 states on vote-buying watchlist

The Independent National Electoral Commission on Monday expressed concern that persistent attacks on its facilities were threatening successful conduct of the 2023 elections.

The commission also lamented that its past efforts to curb vote-buying failed, adding that the vice could mar successful conduct of the elections.

The electoral commission expressed the concerns at two different events in Abuja on Monday as part of the preparations for the elections.

Speaking 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, the INEC chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, insisted that there must be 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 added that if the attacks continued till next year, they could impede the successful conduct of the polls.

He also said if the insecurity in some parts of the country did not cease; it 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 INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education, Festus Okoye, stated, “The commission is 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.’’

He noted, “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/she can be declared a winner of any election.’’

Yakubu further stated, “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.”

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