Weeks to the November 11 off-season governorship election in Imo, Kogi and Bayelsa States, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has raised alarm over renewed violence and insecurity in Imo and Kogi.
The INEC National Commissioner and member Information and Voter Education Committee (IVEC), Mallam Mohammed Kudu Haruna, who spoke on Wednesday at a one-day workshop organized for media executives in Owerri, said the violence threatened the peace of the polls, urging the government to bring down the level of insecurity to guarantee free and credible elections.
Haruna lamented that insecurity in Imo and Kog had resulted in a situation where residents were scared of applying as ad hoc staff for the election in the states.
“We have gone so far with our preparedness for the off-cycle elections in Imo, Kogi and Bayelsa States.
“The Commission is truly worried about the growing level of insecurity and violence, in Kogi and Imo States. This is unacceptable, unnecessary and most worrisome.
“Campaigns in Kogi State, has been violent and this is most unfortunate. Our political gladiators and indeed, all citizens, must work towards ensuring free, fair and credible elections.
“It stands to reason that if this situation is allowed to continue, there is the likelihood that people will be afraid to come out to vote, on the election day.
“Already, INEC is having a shortfall in the number of ad-hoc staff needed to superintend over the forthcoming elections”, he said.
Haruna however, said that in spite of the security challenges, INEC was working assiduously to ensure that the elections turned out successfully.
He disclosed that of the 13 items mapped out for the November polls in the three states, eight had been taken care of.
Addressing what he called “electoral operations activities”, Haruna said: “All non-sensitive materials have been delivered to the three states, in required quantities and good quality.
“The production of sensitive materials has been completed and ready for delivery to the three states.”
The INEC National Commissioner said efforts were on to improve and ease access for persons living with disabilities and other marginalized groups, to participate in elections.
“The Commission has provided braille ballot papers for visually impaired voters, made available magnifying glasses for people with albinism and introduced enlarged posters, for voters with hearing impairment.
“We have gone further to integrate into the voting procedure, a process that accords priority voting for persons living with disabilities, vulnerable people like the elderly, pregnant and nursing mothers”, he said.
Welcoming the participants earlier, the Imo Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC, Professor Sylvia U. Agu, explained that “this engagement has been carefully packaged by the Commission, to enlighten the media and her executives, on the guidelines, processes and procedures, ahead of the November 11, 2023 gubernatorial election in Imo State.”
While soliciting the cooperation of media practitioners, Agu also appealed to eligible voters to come out and vote for their choice candidates, during the poll.