Kogi Guber Polls: INEC Raises Concerns After DSS Attack

Amina ZakariThe Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, yesterday raised an alarm over the level of insecurity in the Kogi State following last Thursday’s troubling attack on the office of the Department of State Security, DSS, and calling for a security beefup.
It would be recalled that near 60 unknown gunmen suspected to be members of Boko Haram attacked the DSS last week but were unsuccessful thanks to the intervention of the military.

Ahead of the Kogi State governorship poll scheduled for November 21, the Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC, of INEC in the state, Haliru Pai, expressed the fear during a dialogue session on the forthcoming governorship election in the state organised by the Nigerian Civil Society Situation Room in Abuja.

The REC also said that over 308,149 voters are yet to collect their permanent voters cards, PVCs.
“Security in Kogi State is really a matter of concern to us,” Pai declared at the dialogue.

“What has happened recently, like the attack on the Department of State Security, DSS, is a pointer to how volatile Kogi State is. No matter the extent of our readiness, there are serious concerns to the successful conduct of free, fair and credible elections in the state,” he said.

He stated further that the electoral body could not afford to gloss over the security challenges as they would not allow it to provide a level playing field for candidates in the election.

“Security agencies should brace-up to ensure that security issues are thoroughly dealt with before, during and after the forthcoming election,” he admonished.

“I’m more afraid of militancy in Kogi State than Ekiti State; I have been to the two states, I know what I am talking about. There is need to beef-up security. Let me tell you for just National Assembly election alone that has just 21 local governments in Kogi State, we recorded inconclusive elections in seven local government areas.”

He also appealed for more funding, saying that it was also a major challenge.

“Funding is also regarded as another challenge as election is generally capital intensive and there is the need for timely and adequate funds for logistics and other expenses.”

Pai said that based on the PVC audit conducted in the state to find out the status of the cards produced and distributed, it showed that of the 1,317,672 PVCs were in the state, and 308,149, representing 23.4% PVCs are yet to be collected as at the time the audit was concluded.

The INEC commissioner also pleaded for support from all the stakeholders in the state for the election to be successful.

Also speaking at the occasion, the Kogi State commissioner of police, Emmanuel Ojukwu assured that the polls would hold peacefully despite increasing concerns, adding that no amount of threat would stop the election.






     

     

    He said the police is fully prepared and is doing everything possible to ensure free and fair election in the state.

    “Yes, there are security issues in Kogi State, but our job is to make sure that we minimise the threat to life and property and to give every Nigerian, every ‘Kogite’, the enabling environment to exercise their franchise. We are aware of issues like kidnapping, robbery, and right now, police are handling the issues as professionally as we can,” he said.

    Ojukwu said some flashpoints have been identified and that the police are up to the task to ensure peaceful polls in those areas.

    He also called on the people of the state to be vigilant and cooperate with the security agencies to ensure a free and fair election.

     

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