Arms proliferation, hard drugs, insurgents threaten FCT Council Poll — INEC

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The Independent National Electoral Commission INEC said it has identified possible risks to the conduct of the February 12 Area Council election in the Federal Capital Territory FCT, urging security agencies to beam their searchlights on the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, hard drugs and activities of insurgents in some parts of the territory.

INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu disclosed this Tuesday in Abuja at a meeting of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security ICCES.

The Commission has also been evaluating the risk to the election using the Election Violence Mitigation and Advocacy Tool EVMAT. The aim is to identify early warning signals that could assist the security agencies and other stakeholders in devising and deploying appropriate mitigation strategies.

“Among other areas of concern, the Commission focused on threats specific to geographical locations, the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, the issue of hard drugs, presence of insurgents and armed groups, intra and inter-party conflicts, and incidents of hate speech”, Yakubu stated.

He said the commission will, in the next few days, intensify its engagement with stakeholders, particularly with party leaders and candidates, traditional and religious leaders, transport providers, civil society organizations and the media.

“We will work with all stakeholders to ensure that the forthcoming election is peaceful and our processes credible. That is why this meeting is crucial. Securing the environment is the foundation for a peaceful, well-organised and credible election. This was clearly demonstrated in the peaceful conduct of the recent Anambra State Governorship election. Let us make the FCT Area Council election another shining example of a peaceful election.

In addition to the FCT Area Council election, the Commission is also preparing for six bye-elections on 26 February 2022, followed by the Ekiti and Osun Governorship elections on 18 June and 16 July 2022 respectively.

“In the case of the Ekiti State Governorship election, the period earmarked in the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for party primaries ended three days ago on 29th January 2022. All 18 political parties served notices for their party primaries to elect their candidates for the election and invited the Commission to monitor them. One party adopted the direct method for electing its candidate while 16 parties opted for the indirect method.

“However, from on our field report, the Boot Party BP did not hold its primary election at any venue known to, and monitored by the Commission. Consequently, we do not expect the party to nominate a candidate for the Ekiti State Governorship election.

“On this note, let me once again warn political parties to strictly adhere to the Commission’s timelines for all activities, including the conduct of primaries and nomination of candidates. These timelines are firm and fixed. No deviation or violation will be allowed”, he declared.

Co-chairman of ICCES and National Security Adviser NSA, Mohammed Monguno charged security agencies to replicate the successes recorded during last year’s Anambra governorship election in the forthcoming Council Poll.

“As the commission puts final touches to the FCT Council Poll, we wish to note that FCT elections have no history of violence and we urge all security agencies to replicate the level of professionalism experienced in the last Anambra election as we look forward to conducting this FCT election”, he stated.

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