At a meeting with heads of security agencies and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the National Security Adviser (NSA), Major General Babagana Munguni, yesterday, assured gathering that the federal government would protect the staff and properties of the commission as well as Nigerians during the 2023 general election.

The NSA, who was represented by one Sanusi Galadima, further attributed the successes recorded in the reduced destruction of INEC properties to the synergy between INEC and members of Inter-agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) as well as other stakeholders.

According to the NSA, who responded to the speech delivered by INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, “With the prevalence of security threats occasioned by different dissident separatist groups in the Southern region of the country, who are bent on scuttling efforts of govenment in achieving national cohesion and undennining the democratic processes in the country, the Federal Government of Nigeria will not tolerate any group or persons planning to impede smooth conduct of elections.”

The NSA, while acknow-ledging the constitutional rights of citizens to freely express their legitimate grievances within the ambits of the law, said, “it is also important to state that the federal government will not abdicate its constitutional responsibility of securing lives and property as well as secure environment for citizens to pursue their legitimate means of livelihood.”

The NSA said in furtherance of the coordinating mandate of his office that the Office of the National Security Adviser was poised to ensure robust deployments before, during and after the polls, with a view to countering any threats and ensuring peaceful conduct of the polls, especially, in the forthcoming Anambra State gubernatorial election.

Earlier, the INEC chairman expressed the Commission’s appreciation to the security agencies and all members of ICCES for their continued support to elections and the electoral process in Nigeria.

The INEC chairman said that this year alone, the Commission had conducted eight bye-elections made up of four federal constituencies, three state constituencies and one councillorship constituency in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

He also said the last bye-election was held about four weeks ago in Kaduna State and that the next bye-election would take place in Delta State, saying, “We look forward to the support of the security agencies to ensure that we deliver yet another credible election for the Isoko South I State Assembly Constituency this weekend.”

Yakubu said the focus of yesterday meeting was the Anambra State governorship election holding on 6th November 2021.

He told the security chiefs that the Commission had successfully expanded voter access to polling units in Nigeria, explaining that in Anambra State, there were 5,720 polling units to which personnel and materials would be delivered.

Similarly, he said the number of registered voters had increased, because of the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) and that all the 18 political parties were fielding candidates in the election, while campaign by parties and their candidates had commenced.

For voter accreditation during the Anambra election, Yakubu said the Commission intendedto introduce a new technology called the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS),which has the capability for both the fingerprint and facial biometric accreditation.

He also noted that over the last three days, INEC had demonstrated how the new device would work during its consultative meetings with political parties, civil society organisations and the media.

The INEC chairman added that over two million Nigerians have so far registered online.

THISDAY LIVE