The National Security Adviser (NSA), Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, on Friday assured Nigerians that the off-cycle governorship elections in Bayelsa, Imo and Kogi States would be conducted without any form of interference.
Speaking at an Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) meeting on Imo, Bayelsa and Kogi governorship elections held in his office in Abuja, Ribadu said that the security agencies would work with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ensure that the election was free, fair and credible.
“We want to give assurance to Nigerians that this election will be even better than what we have had in the past. This election is going to be free and fair,” Ribadu said.
“This election will be without interference. This election is going to be without violence. This election is going to be credible.
“It is going to be litmus test for us. Three important states, one in the North-Central, one in the South-East, one in the South -South and we are ready.
“We will provide what it takes to provide credible elections and we are impressed with the preparations we have seen from INEC and we will work together. Collectively it is our responsibility to deliver,’’ he said.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Ridadu assured that the security agencies were fully prepared, saying the President Bola Tinubu-led government was ready to ensure free and fair elections.
“Mr President has given his orders. He said he wants to see free, fair, credible election and this is going to be the first election under his watch.
“He said that we should take this message to INEC and to Nigerians that he is going to be very much available to support you to make sure Nigeria have free and fair elections.
“I also to tell everyone including the politicians, nothing much important than to have a free and fair election, if we want this country is to move forward.
“He is a democrat, he believes in democracy. He will support you. Already we have seen it as the entire requirement we have putting out to him, he has given us the go ahead.
“The entire security forces and all our requirement has been met, the rest is for us to deliver,’’ he said.
Earlier in his remarks, INEC Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, who also co-chairs the ICCES, urged the security agencies to take decisive action against perpetrators of electoral violence in the three state elections.
He said that Bayelsa, Imo and Kogi were not the easiest states in Nigeria to conduct elections because of their difficult geographical terrain and prevailing insecurity.
These, according to Yakubu, were compounded by negative mobilisation by political actors, especially since the commencement of campaign in public on July 14.
“Ultimate responsibility for election security lies with the security agencies. Our message to the security agencies is to take decisive action against perpetrators of electoral violence,” Yakubu said.
“This is the surest way to guarantee a safe environment for the peaceful conduct of elections and electoral activities.
“In doing so, security personnel on electoral duty should remain neutral and committed to the established professional code of conduct and rules of engagement,’’ he said.
He called on politicians in states where the election would take place to call their candidates and supporters to order.
The INEC Chairman said that violence and other undemocratic activities such as vote buying, attacks on election officials and disruption of the electoral process must stop.
He informed that out of the 5,409,438 registered voters in the three states, 5,169,692 had collected their Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs).
Two polling units in Bayelsa and 38 in Imo were without registered voters, he said, adding that eligible voters were expected to vote in all the 10,510 polling units in their states.
“Similarly, election results will be collated in 649 Registration Areas/Wards, 56 Local Government Areas and three state collation centres.
“This gives us a cumulative figure of 11,178 voting and collation locations to deploy security personnel in the three states.
“This is in addition to ensuring a secure environment for the ongoing campaigns and rallies by political parties and candidates, security of voters, the escort of personnel and materials, protection of assets and general security for all persons with legitimate reason to participate in the election and electoral activities,” he said.