2023 elections: As insecurity stokes fear, FG allays concern over cancellation

• Afenifere insists excuses not tenable, says polls must hold as planned
• W’African body cautions on terrorism risks in northeast
• INEC’s apprehension indicates Buhari not ready, HURIWA affirms
• Commission has no reasons to postpone exercise, says Adebayo
• Group alleges partisanship in access to PVCs collection
• Urges INEC to tackle ‘old politics’ designed to disenfranchise citizens

The Conflict Research Network, West Africa (CORN West Africa), yesterday, warned Federal Government and security agencies that terrorism could threaten conduct of the general elections in the northeast, unless a proactive context-specific security plan is designed for the zone.

This was disclosed as part of recommendations at the Conflict CORN West Africa Research Colloquium webinar, themed, ‘Nigeria Decides 2023: Conducting Elections in Context of Political Violence and State Fragility’.

CORN West Africa is a knowledge platform and academic community for scholars based in institutions in West Africa, who are working in the field of peace, security and political violence, with a growing network of more than 150 members across 35 institutions in West Africa.

Dr. Babayo Sule of the Department of International Relations, Federal University of Kashere, Gombe State, and member, Conflict Research Network, West Africa, said improved security of life and property before elections in the northeast would encourage people to come out and vote.

Speaking on the topic, ‘Election Amid Terror: Terrorism and the 2023 Elections in Nigeria’s North East’, Sule said terrorism remained a major threat, arguing that polls may not hold in areas under the control of terror groups, except counter-terrorism campaign is stepped up to clear the way.
He said government must “significantly reduce the areas that are under the control and influence of Boko Haram before the elections. Extra security personnel should be deployed to ensure the safety of life, property, INEC officials, and electoral materials.”

He added: “On election day, in 2015, Boko Haram terrorists coordinated multiple attacks on polling units in Gombe, Bauchi, Yobe, Borno and Adamawa, killing election officials while destroying electoral materials.

“Voters were killed while the electorate dispersed and never returned to cast their votes in the affected areas. Because of the activities of the insurgents, several remote areas could not be accessed, and transporting election materials proved impossible.
“Elections did not take place in 16 local councils under the control of Boko Haram. The Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) and the Boko Haram insurgency keeps growing in the northeast. There are several flashpoints that could be difficult to reach with electoral materials because Boko Haram/ISWAP may attack or destroy the materials there.”

Federal Government, however, reassured Nigerians that the elections would go on as planned.
Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Muhammed, gave the assurance as he debunked fears of cancellation over high rate of insecurity across the country.

The minister, who spoke at the continued presentation of President Muhammadu Buhari’s scorecard, was reacting to a report credited to Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that the elections risk cancellation due to insecurity.

An INEC official had warned: “If the insecurity is not monitored and dealt with decisively, it could ultimately culminate in cancellation and or postponement of elections in sufficient constituencies to hinder declaration of elections results and precipitate constitutional crisis.”

The minister, however, insisted: “There is no cause for alarm,” adding that the Federal Government is working with relevant agencies to ensure hitch-free polls.

He said: “The position of the Federal Government remains that the 2023 elections would be held as planned. Nothing has happened to change that position. We are aware that INEC is working with security agencies to ensure that the elections are successfully held across the country.

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