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INEC Consoles Army Over Okuoma Incident, Advocates Early Preparations for Governorship polls

Participants at the Inter Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) meeting, held at the INEC headquarters on Friday 22nd March 2024. PHOTO: SUNDAY AYODELE.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has condoled with the Nigerian Army over the unfortunate killing of soldiers who were on a peace mission at Okuoma, Delta State.

The INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu expressed the Commission’s sympathy to represenatives of the Nigerian Army and other members of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES), during a meeting held at the INEC headquarters, Abuja on Friday, 22nd March 2024.

Prof. Yakubu unequivocally condemned the killings, describing it as a gruesome and heinous crime, and expressing the confidence that the ongoing investigation would lead to the arrest of the perpetrators.

He said: “I welcome you all to this meeting on a sad note. The recent gruesome killing of officers and soldiers of the Nigerian Army on a peace mission in Delta State is condemnable. We are confident that the ongoing investigation will lead to the speedy arrest and prosecution of the perpetrators of the heinous crime. On behalf of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), I extend our condolence to the Army and the armed forces in particular as well as other security, intelligence, law enforcement agencies, all other members of ICCES and families of the fallen heroes for the colossal loss. May we rise to observe a minute of silent prayers for the repose of their souls”

On the impending Edo and Ondo States governorship elections planned for September and November this year, Prof. Yakubu, who also Chairs ICCES, called for early security preparations ahead of the polls. He applauded the security agencies for their outstanding coordination leading to the success of the 2020 Edo and Ondo Governorship elections and asked ICCES members to replicate the feat.

He said, “It is important to start security preparations very early. In particular, the number of personnel and other assets to be deployed to strategic locations should be determined and mobilised early enough.  It was this proactive approach that led to the successful conduct of the last Governorship election in Edo State on 19th September 2020 and in Ondo State on 10th October 2020.”

He added: “There were no security incidents, materials were delivered promptly, logistics deployed smoothly, Polling Units opened on time, voters attended to efficiently and results collated and announced transparently.”

 “Let us replicate the successful conduct of the last Governorship elections in Edo and Ondo States. In-fact, working together, we should ensure that the 2024 Governorship elections in Edo and Ondo States are an improvement on the success story of 2020.”

On his part, the National Security Adviser (NSA) and Co-chairman of ICCES, Nuhu Ribadu described as impressive, the deployment of security during the last bye and rerun elections held across 28 states of the federation. He attributed the success to support from the government.

Represented by the Director of Internal Security at the office of the NSA, Hassan Y. Abdullahi, the NSA assured that the coordination displayed by the security agencies will be replicated in all subsequent elections.

He further commended the Nigerian Police Force, which coordinates election security for the fewer incidences of violence recorded in the last elections, while assuring Nigerians  that the tempo will be sustained in future elections.