Boko Haram, bandits, IPOB, cultists’ threats could mar 2023 elections: INEC Chairman
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says the quad of Boko Haram insurgents, bandits, IPOB agitators and cultists, among other criminal elements could combine to mar the February and March elections.
INEC chairman Mahmood Yakubu said this when he addressed the press at Chatham House, London, on Tuesday.
Mr Yakubu said INEC was satisfied with the level of its of preparations for the election, saying that 11 out of 14 activities scheduled for the election had been accomplished. He, however, said that in spite of extensive preparations, there were still some outstanding issues and challenges of concern, some of which were beyond INEC.
Mr Yakubu explained that one of the problems had to do with the current security challenges in Nigeria and the possible impact on the election, noting thag security challenges in many African countries remain source of concern for election managers.
“For many years, Nigeria has been grappling with its own insecurity In the North-East, the long-standing Boko Haram insurgency has continued, albeit with attacks now more intermittent than regular,” stated the INEC chief. “In the North-West and the North Central, banditry, terrorism and the herder-farmer conflicts remain major challenges.”
He further explained, “In the South-South, the threat of renewed insurgency by groups demanding more share of petroleum revenue to the Niger Delta continues to simmer. In the South-West, although an earlier surge by a group demanding independence for the region has considerably dissipated, recent violent attacks on places of worship, rise in the activities of violent cults and kidnapping groups, as well as a history of violence involving groups seeking to control markets and motor parks remain strong.”
Mr Yakubu added that in the South-East, the lingering agitation for secession championed by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) “poses a major security threat. Not only have violent attacks by a number of armed groups increased, the long-standing weekly lockdown of the five States in that geo-political zone, continue to disrupt social and economic activities.”
According to the INEC chair, violence and threat of violence are major challenges to organising credible election in 2023, pointing out that violence could make deployments for elections difficult, particularly where some of the attacks were targeted at the electoral process and participants.
Mr Yakubu however, said INEC had been working with security agencies and other stakeholders to establish mechanisms to understand, track and mitigate security challenges.
“We are working collaboratively in the context of the Inter-agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES),” said Mr Yakubu.
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