By Princess-Ekwi Ajide, Abuja
The Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, says the comission has begun evaluating the risk to the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Council election using the Election Violence Mitigation and Advocacy Tool, EVMAT, to identify early warning signals that could assist security agencies and other stakeholders in devising and deploying appropriate mitigation strategies.
Professor Yakubu, who stated this in his opening remarks at the Inter-Agency consultative Committee on Security meeting at INEC headquarters in Abuja, said the Commission focused on threats specific to geographical locations, proliferation of small arms and light weapons, the issue of hard drugs, presence of insurgents and armed groups, intra and inter-party conflicts, and incidents of hate speech.
He said the Commission will intensify its engagement with stakeholders, including pparty leaders and candidates, traditional and religious leaders, transport providers, civil society organisations and the media and work with them to ensure that the forthcoming election is peaceful and the processes credible.
The INEC Chairman said the meeting is crucial because securing the environment is the foundation for a peaceful, well-organised and credible election as demonstrated in the peaceful conduct of the Anambra State Governorship election.
According to him, in addition to the FCT Area Council election, the Commission is also preparing for six bye-elections on 26th February 2022 to be followed by the Ekiti and Osun Governorship elections on 18th June and 16th July 2022 respectively saying that for the Ekiti State Governorship election, the period earmarked in the Timetable and Schedule of Activities for party primaries ended on 29th January 2022.
The INEC Chairman warned political parties to adhere strictly to the Commission’s timelines for all activities, including the conduct of primaries and nomination of candidates as the timelines are firm and fixed so, no deviation or violation will be allowed.
On his part, the National Security Adviser, represented by Mr. S.G Tobin, urged players in the election to upscale their level of professionalism so as to ensure a credible outcome as recorded in the Anambra Governorship election, adding that FCT elections have never been known to be volatile and this cannot be an exception.