Ahead of the November 6 governorship election in Anambra State, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Tuesday met with the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno.
The meeting, which was held at the INEC conference room in Abuja, had in attendance the Chairman of the commission, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, heads of various security agencies, Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) as well as senior electoral officials.
Mr Monguno was represented by an NSA official, Sanusi Galadima.
In his remarks, Yakubu decried the worsening insecurity in Anambra, warning that the rate of attacks in the state may affect the commission’s plan for the poll if not properly tackled.
He said the commission is particularly concerned about the safety of staff and Adhoc staff who will help in the conduct of the election, adding that they need strong assurances of their safety during and after the election.
According to the INEC boss, information at his disposal indicated that the attackers who have unleashed mayhem in the south-eastern state do not want the governorship election to hold next month.
While recalling the last meeting held on September 9 where the commission reviewed its preparedness for the exercise, Yakubu lamented that the attacks had increased since then.
He also decried a situation whereby many innocent lives have been lost in the region with several properties destroyed.
“From the reports we have received, the stated goal of many of the attackers is that the Governorship election scheduled for 6th November 2021 must not hold,” Yakubu said.
“This is worrisome for the Commission. We are deeply concerned that specific electoral facilities and materials could once more become targets of attack.”
“Recall that in May this year, our State Office at Awka was attacked and all the non-sensitive materials assembled for the election at the time were destroyed.
“In addition, our store, collation center and the main office building were either totally or substantially damaged. The Commission also lost several vehicles to be used for the election.”
Despite the attacks, the INEC Chairman vowed that the electoral body would proceed with the election that is barely a month from now.
He however said INEC’s commitment would not be to the detriment of the security of about 26,000 of its officials, including National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members and university students who will be deployed for the election.
On his part, the National Security Adviser said the upsurge of attacks in the state was carried out to stop the democratic process.
Speaking through Sanusi Galadima, the NSA said his office has initiated steps in collaboration with security agencies in the country to stop the separationists’ attempts in the region ahead of the poll.
The South-East region has witnessed a high rate of criminality including killings and kidnappings in the last few months.
Dozens of police officers have been killed in such attacks in the region and public facilities including vehicles and buildings destroyed.