From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
National Security Adviser (NSA), Babagana Monguno, has charged the personnel of various security agencies participating in the July 16, Osun State governorship election to be on red alert to deal with disgruntled politicians that may attempt to sabotage the process through vote buying inducement.
He spoke at a special meeting of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Saturday in Abuja to appraise the build up to the Osun poll.
He also specifically challenged the commission to organise enlightenment campaign to encourage voters participation in future elections beginning with the Osun election.
Represented by Sanusi Galadima, Monguno said: “the NSA also urged ICCES member to build on the successes recorded from the Ekiti election as some disgruntled politicians may attempt to sabotage the process for their selfish gains, through vote buying and other forms of voter inducement as well as political thuggery.”
On combating voter apathy, the NSA said: “you will all agree with me that the commission is currently undergoing tremendous transformation through re-calibration of the electoral process in the areas of voter’s registration/voter education, screening of voters at the polling units, Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS), as well as election result collection and transmission.
“Records from the conduct of the last Ekiti State governorship election indicated an impressive performance by the INEC as well the ICCES member agencies as there were no any major incident of security concern recorded during and after the election.
“However, more needs to be done in terms of enlightenment campaign to encourage voters to come out and cast their votes on the day of the election. This is because of the low turnout recorded during the election compared to the total number of registered voters in the State.
“Consequent upon the above, the NSA enjoined INEC, through the Department of Voter education/publicity, to redouble efforts ahead of the Osun State Guber election and the forthcoming general elections in 2023,” he charged.
Reading the riot act to culprits of vote buyers, the chairman of the commission, Mahmood Yakubu, revealed that the commission has scaled up collaboration with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to prosecute offenders.
“Again, arising from the experience in recent elections, vote buying remains a major area of concern. We appreciate the role played by the anti-corruption and security agencies in apprehending some of the perpetrators of this brazen assault on our democracy. In particular, we are working with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to ensure the prosecution of persons arrested in the recent Ekiti Governorship election.
“Action will commence as soon as the EFCC completes its investigation. I appeal to all security agencies to continue to join hands with the Commission to tackle this menace,” he quipped in his remarks during the meeting.
Giving update on the Osun election, Yakubu expressed readiness, announcing that it will, thus week, deploy an assessment team and conduct mock accreditation of voters in some Polling Units across the three Senatorial Districts of the State to test the functionality of the BVAS.
“On our part, all the major activities that are supposed to be carried out at this stage have been successfully undertaken. The commission is deploying a readiness assessment team to Osun State next week to assess our preparations for the elections. We will visit some of our Local Government offices in the State, hold meetings with our staff, brief the Council of Traditional rulers to solicit the support of their Royal Majesties for peaceful elections and meet with the security agencies and transporters.
“We will also observe the mock accreditation of voters in some Polling Units across the three Senatorial Districts of the State to test the functionality of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS). A few days to the election, we will return to Osun State to meet with the stakeholders and for the signing of the Peace Accord by political parties and candidates under the auspices of the National Peace Committee.
“Arising from the experience of the recent Ekiti State governorship election, the commission is keeping a close watch on the security situation in Osun State. Although it is generally calm at the moment, we are nevertheless concerned about reports of clashes in some places. In one recent example, the collection of Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) was disrupted in Erin Oke and Erin Ijesha Wards of Oriade Local Government Area resulting in the loss of 46 PVCs.
“While the matter is being investigated by the police, the collection of PVCs for the affected Wards is now taking place in the INEC office in Ijebu-Jesha. Meanwhile, the State office has compiled the Voter Identification Numbers (VINs) of the cards and the Commission has already reprinted the PVCs for the affected voters. I would like to assure all valid registrants in Osun State that no one will be disenfranchised on account of such incident.
“It is futile for anyone to attempt to vote using another person’s PVC. The BVAS biometric accreditation will expose such fraud and persons apprehended will be prosecuted under the law,”