INEC to bar soldiers from polling units

Prof.  JegaThere will be no official role for uniformed soldiers at polling stations across the land when next month’s elections get underway,according to  indications from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) .

Only unarmed policemen will be allowed at  the  120,000 polling units created for the elections,Saturday Nation gathered yesterday.

The commission is also said to have factored into its preparations possible  run-off polls even as it is scheduled to  meet with political parties, civil society organizations and representatives of the people of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe in the North-East on Tuesday on the modalities for voting by one million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).

The exclusion of soldiers from electoral duties,sources said yesterday,is to create an enabling environment for voting.

The decision was taken at strategic meetings between INEC and security agencies on how to make the  elections  free and fair .

Sources said that  having tested the use of unarmed policemen in Ekiti and Osun states, INEC is  confident that the 68.8million voters  registered for the elections will be adequately protected.

“We have had a standard measure which we adopted in Ekiti and Osun states. We want to use unarmed policemen in all the polling units,” one source said.

“There will be mobile police units, who will be on standby to curtail any violence or disruption of the voting and counting processes.

“Soldiers will just be restricted to entry and exit points in major towns and cities. They will have nothing to do with the conduct of the elections.

“You will recall that Nigerians, especially women, had made representation to Justice Muhammadu Uwais Electoral Reform Committee for armed policemen and soldiers during elections but we have decided to adopt international best practices.

“The signing of the peace pact by major parties on Wednesday has boosted our confidence that we may have a hitch-free poll.”

The source said INEC and security agencies have  a standing committee which has been meeting on security logistics for the election.

Contacted yesterday, the Chief Press Secretary to INEC chairman, Mr. Kayode Robert Idowu, said: “We are working round the clock with security agencies to ensure  free and fair polls. I cannot give you further details.”

Investigation  confirmed last night that INEC has factored likely run-off in presidential and governorship elections into its preparation for  the  polls.

According to  the 1999 Constitution,  a candidate shall be deemed elected as President or a governor having scored the highest number of votes cast and he or she has not less than one-quarter of the votes cast at the election in each of at least two thirds of all the states and FCT or local governments in a state.

The INEC source said: “We have made provision for either presidential or governorship poll run-off. We cannot be caught off-guard.”

Meanwhile, INEC management will meet with political parties, civil society organizations and representatives of communities displaced in the North-East and other parts of the country on how to conduct election for about one million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).

The House of Representatives had approved voting for IDPs in February.

A second source said: “INEC has designed modalities for voting by the IDPs, we are going to table these before stakeholders on Tuesday.

“We want to get their input too. Once everyone is involved, the modalities will be strictly adhered to.

“And if we need to amen our Electoral Act, we will inform the National Assembly because no one had envisaged the challenge of IDPs.”

Anthony-Claret Onwutalobi
Anthony-Claret Onwutalobi
Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC and CEO of Portia Web Solutions. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.

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