We want elections to hold, but we don’t have full control – Jega laments

by James Sambo

Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Prof. Attahiru Jega, has informed the Senate that as a result of the security challenges bedeviling the nation, only the service chiefs can guarantee if/when the rescheduled elections will hold.

Jega made the comments on Wednesday, February 18, while being interviewed by the Senate on INEC’s readiness for the general elections and also the functionality of the card readers for the accreditation of voters.

The INEC boss told the lawmakers that it was not the duty of INEC to provide security and as such, the commission would not risk the lives of about 700,000 ad-hoc staff to be used during the polls, without security protection.

Jega said: “I kept saying consistently that INEC is not a security organization. We are an election management body. So, we rely a lot on security to be able to ensure that things are done well and that there is no disruption of the electoral process.

“We have been working very closely with the Inter-Agencies Consultative Committee on election security and that is why for us, if the service chiefs say that we can’t guarantee security, give us more time, what is the alternative security arrangement?”

“We are going to use close to 700, 000 ad hoc staff. We can’t send people to the field in that kind of a situation. Our hope and prayer is that in the next six weeks there will be significant improvement in the security situation for us to be doing elections all over this country in a very secured environment. There are certain questions that we are not really competent to answer. Certain questions should be directed to the military, and they can answer it better.”

“I must say that every Nigerian knows that we want elections to hold within the constitutional time-frame. We should be fair also to the military. Soldiers are also patriotic Nigerians. Let us give them the benefit of doubt.”

Speaking further, Jega assured that INEC was prepared to face any litigation that might arise from the use of the card readers.

He also stated that politicians, who were stealing, cloning or buying the Permanent Voter Cards, PVCs, from people, were ona fruitless venture as the card readers would not recognise such cards during accreditation.

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