Buhari meets with security chiefs as INEC distributes election materials.

INEC - Rapid News Gh

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) began the distribution of sensitive materials in states including Lagos, Benue, Ondo, Ekiti, and Osun on Wednesday, ahead of Saturday’s presidential and National Assembly elections.

In addition, as part of the preparations for the elections, the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), met with security chiefs on Wednesday at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, where he stated that INEC had no excuse not to conduct successful polls.

The electoral commission increased preparations in nine states by distributing sensitive materials to local government areas.

At 10 a.m., the Resident National Electoral Commissioner, Prof. Ayobami Salami, met with security agencies and commission officials in Ado-Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital, prior to the distribution of materials to local government areas.

Salami, who spoke at the Central Bank of Nigeria, Ado Ekiti branch, venue of the distribution, said early distribution of the materials “is an indication that INEC has put everything in place and we are not leaving everything till the last minute.

“We are to assure Nigerians that we are fully ready for the elections and the materials are ready on time and being distributed on time and will get to locations on time and elections will hold on schedule.

“As you can see, all of our electoral officers from all of the local governments are here with their vehicles to deliver the materials to the various local government areas. That indicates that the logistics issues have been resolved. “We have the funds to conduct this election, as well as the fuel for the vehicles that will be used,” he said.

The exercise also began in Ondo State, where our correspondent observed sensitive materials being moved from the CBN’s Akure branch to the headquarters of each of the state’s 18 local government areas in the company of heavily armed security agents on Wednesday.

The Acting Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mr Oyekola Oyelami, commented on the development, saying that the process was smooth and that proper arrangements were made to ensure that the materials reached the council areas.

The exercise was held in Lagos under heavy security presence at the CBN headquarters in Marina, Lagos.

Mr Olusegun Agbaje, the Lagos State Resident Electoral Commissioner, told journalists at the CBN office in Marina that all materials would be distributed to the LGAs on Wednesday, with electoral officers from each council doing the final distributions on election day.

The Benue State Resident Electoral Commissioner, Sam Egwu, received sensitive materials from the CBN branch in Makurdi.

Terkaa Andyar, the commission’s spokesman in Benue State, said the materials would be delivered to the local government areas on Thursday.

“It is late now, so the commission decided that we are dispatching the materials to nearby local governments, while those further away will receive their materials tomorrow (today),” he explained.

On Wednesday, INEC began delivering election materials and the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System to the 18 LGAS in Cross Rivers State.

On Wednesday, our correspondent witnessed the equipment being loaded into trucks at the INEC state headquarters in Calabar.

Political party representatives and security officials were present during the deployment.

Before the materials were distributed, Prof Gabriel Yomere, the Resident Electoral Commissioner, stated that “no big man would be allowed to come out on election day with his orderly.”

The distribution of electoral materials to Nasarawa State’s 13 council areas has also begun.

After inspecting the materials at the CBN’s Lafia branch on Wednesday, the state’s Resident Electoral Commissioner, Uthman Ajidagba, told journalists that the commission was ready to conduct a free, fair, and credible election.

He stated that the ballot papers, result sheets, and BVAS machines would be distributed to the state’s 3,245 polling units.

According to our source, the distribution of the materials was witnessed by security personnel, officials from various political parties, and candidates.

Sokoto branch

The INEC office in Sokoto State confirmed receiving 3,999 BVAS machines, as well as other sensitive materials, for distribution to all of the state’s local government headquarters.

Dr Nura Ali, the state’s Resident Electoral Commissioner, told reporters at the CBN office in the state on Wednesday that all sensitive materials were in the commission’s custody.

He stated that the commission had distributed non-sensitive materials to the state’s 23 LGAs and that the commission was fully prepared to conduct the general election.

“We have been having daily engagement with all the security agencies in the state, and they have all assured us of maximum protection throughout the election period,” he said.

“I would like to take this opportunity to reassure our people in Sokoto State that INEC is prepared to hold free, fair, and credible elections in this state.”

As part of the preparations for the elections, the Resident Electoral Commissioner in Ogun State, Mr Niyi Ijalaye, met with the heads of security agencies in Abeokuta on Wednesday, led by the state’s Commissioner of Police, Frank Mba.

He warned that mobile phone use was still prohibited at polling stations, noting that voters would not be allowed to make calls or take pictures with their phones while voting.

Ijalaye issued the warning shortly after the meeting in Abeokuta, while speaking to journalists.

Security was beefed up around the INEC state secretariat in Katsina ahead of the election.

Sheu Sa’idu, INEC’s Head of Voter Education and Publicity, explained that the items would be transferred to all 34 LGAs on Thursday (today).

Similarly, Ahmed Ammani, the Commissioner of Police in Enugu State, has ordered the maximum deployment of all policing resources to ensure the peaceful conduct of the state’s presidential and National Assembly elections on Saturday.

Ammani, who issued the order during a last-minute security review and strategy meeting with his management team and tactical/operational team commanders at the police headquarters on Wednesday, warned that lapses in any form would not be tolerated.

According to a statement issued by the Enugu State Command’s spokesperson, Daniel Ndukwe, the meeting was held to finalize strategies for maintaining law and order during the election period.

INEC is prepared.

In Osun State, the distribution was witnessed by representatives from the parties, security agents, journalists, and INEC officials at the premises of the CBN, Osogbo branch.

However, there was a drama before the distribution began, as operatives from the Department of State Service stationed at the bank’s entrance barred journalists and other observers from entering the premises.

The security guards claimed that the management of the CBN Osogbo branch had instructed them not to let anyone into the premises.

However, INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner Dr Mutiu Agboke insisted on allowing journalists and party representatives into the premises.

Agboke said the commission was ready for the polls after journalists were allowed into the premises to witness the distribution.

Meanwhile, during a meeting with security chiefs and INEC chairman Mahmood Yakubu, the President stated that there was no reason for the elections to fail.

According to the PUNCH, the unscheduled meeting was called at the request of INEC chairman, who explained that it was all part of efforts to ensure free, fair, and credible elections.

Earlier, Buhari revealed that he had to stay back for a while to meet with Yakubu, explaining his late arrival for the commissioning and handover of security equipment valued at over N12 billion to the military and Nigeria Police Force by the Coalition Against Covid-19.

The President informed the CACOVID-19 group that his five-minute delay was due to an ongoing meeting with the Chairman of INEC.

He did, however, remind the team that the meeting was to ensure the success of the elections.

There are no excuses.

“I’m being grounded by INEC,” Buhari said. “You know, next Saturday is a big day for us, and I’m taking instructions from INEC to make sure there are no excuses for a successful election,” he said.

In a related development, the security council expressed satisfaction with the level of security throughout the country, stating that “there is no going back” on the February 25 and March 11 election dates.

Malami made the announcement to State House Correspondents on Wednesday, following the council’s inaugural meeting for 2023, which was presided over by the President at the Aso Rock Villa in Abuja.

The declaration, it was gathered, was intended to assuage simmering fears that the Federal Government would postpone elections due to the new naira crisis.

The scarcity of naira notes and fuel had fueled speculation and anxiety that the Federal Government was planning to move the election dates, which the Presidency has repeatedly denied.

The AGF told journalists on Wednesday that the Federal Government has made adequate preparations for Saturday’s election.

He stated that the members were pleased with the current security situation and agreed that the elections must go ahead as planned.

According to Malami, the council members were briefed on their readiness to provide the necessary security cover for the election by the Chief of Defence Staff, the Army, Navy, and Air Force chiefs, as well as heads of other security agencies.

The AGF also stated that the security council meeting was a follow-up to earlier meetings by the Federal Executive Council and the Council of State to assess INEC and police readiness for the elections.

“Briefings were made by security agencies in general and service chiefs at the National Security Council meeting,” he said. National Security Adviser made a submission; Chief of Defense Staff made a submission; Chief of Army Staff made a submission; Chief of Naval Staff made a submission; Chief of Air Staff made a submission; Inspector-General of Police, who is also addressing you, made a submission; Director-General, State Security Service made a submission; and indeed DG NIA and CDI all made submissions.

“The summary and conclusion of all submissions were to the effect that the system is wholeheartedly ready for the conduct of the election and, as a result, the position of the government, the position of the President is that the election is held on February 25, 2023, and Mr President and the National Security Council are happy with the preparations on the ground and wholehearted arrangements are put in place in that direction.”

Malami added that there will be no postponement of the elections.

“So we have been mandated, arising from the conclusions of the security council meetings to now brief you accordingly, but the summary of it, the conclusion of it, the resolution of the Council, is to the effect that the elections are holding and there is no going back about it”, Malami said.

Usman Baba, the Inspector-General of Police, who also briefed journalists, revealed that the President has directed all security agencies to ensure a safe electoral process for Nigerians and INEC officials.

“In terms of specific instructions, we do have specific instructions. The specific instruction is that we must ensure that Nigerians can exercise their franchise or vote for the leaders of their choice, and we must do so by creating a conducive environment or atmosphere for Nigerians to do so.

“We must also provide protection for INEC materials and officials to do their work. “We must ensure that before, during, and after the election, whatever the fallback is, we do not have people who will take the laws into their own hands, and if there are any, we should be able to check them as soon as possible to ensure that it does not snowball into a bigger crisis,” Baba said.

Responding to a question about an allegation that governors incited violence during the new naira crisis, Baba stated that the force cannot prosecute them but can only issue warnings.

“We are investigating whoever does anything that can be investigated. However, there are people who have immunity from prosecution. “I believe that is one of the reasons, but that will not stop us from cautioning, warning, and advising them, which we are doing,” Baba said.

He explained that the presence of military personnel on the streets of Lagos and Abeokuta following the Ogun State naira shortage riots was a joint operation to restore internal security order before the election.

Source: Punch

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