Acting National Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC retired AVM Ahmed Tijani Mu’azu has assured Lagos residents of the commission’s commitment to a credible, free and fair by-election.
Mu’azu gave the assurance in Lagos on Wednesday at meeting with members of the Inter-agency Consultation Committee on Election Security, ICCES comprising representatives of security agencies and other stakeholders held at the Lagos office of the commission.
“We are fully prepared for the December 5 by-election in the Lagos East senatorial district and Kosofe constituency 2 of the state. You will recall that the mood of the nation led to the postponement of the by-election which was earlier scheduled to hold October 31.
The by-election will take place in five local government areas in Lagos state covering 71 registration areas and voter populations of 1,343,548 voters.
As part of our preparation for the election, we have delivered all non-sensitive materials to the various local government areas already while all sensitive materials are going to be delivered on time on the day of the election. We have also deployed three Resident Electoral Commissioners to support the Lagos state Resident Electoral Commissioner.
We have concluded all arrangements to make the voting environment secured for people to vote. In other words, we have the responsible to ensure that the people of Lagos state, particularly, Lagos East senatorial district and Kosofe constituency 2 are adequately secured.
We have met with all security agencies and I am assuring the people of Lagos state that adequate security will be provided for the smooth conduct of the by-elections during and after the election. The results for the by-election will be uploaded on our portal. INEC portal will be used as it was done in Edo and Ondo elections.
On COVID-19 safety protocol, all voters are enjoined to wear protective gear and adhere to the safety protocol of the state government. Physical distancing must also be observed as much as we can. The commission will provide COVID-19 protective gears for our election staff to make the environment safe. We have parley with all security agencies to provide adequate security with civility and professionalism.
We are therefore appealing to all voters and stakeholders to cooperate with the commission and the security agencies for a smooth and peaceful election. Free, fair and transparent election is not an option but a constitutional right of the electorate.”
Speaking on the level of preparedness of the Lagos state police command, Lagos state Commissioner of Police and co-Chairman of ICCES, Mr Hakeem Odumosu said the command has excess manpower to ensure peaceful conduct of the election and safety of the electorate.
Responding to questions from newsmen, he said, “I am giving you a hundred per cent assurance that we will have a peaceful, free and fair election. Election is holding in five out of the twenty local government areas in Lagos state. We have adequate manpower in excess. As far as security is concerned, we are on the same page with all the security agencies.
The election materials as well as electoral officials and the electorate are safe and secured. Their lives and property are secured. Adequate security is assured in Lagos state. We learnt that all the non-sensitive materials have been distributed already. Ours is to provide adequate security during and after the election.
There is going to be restriction but it is not going to be restriction that will subject members of the public to an untold hardship. Restriction of movement will be observed in the local government areas where by-elections are going to be held.”
The commissioner, however send a note of warning to anyone that might be considering disrupting the election, “I am sending a note of warning to the politicians and their followers to play to the rule. Once they play by the rule, there won’t be any violence. I am warning the members of the public, community leaders as well as the politicians to warn their members that thuggery or any form of lawlessness will not be tolerated.
So to the miscreants who might be considering disruption of the election, I am warning them not to allow themselves to be used by politicians to disrupt election, the police is at hand to let them feel the law. And I am assuring law-abiding citizens that they have no fear of being attacked. We have adequate security arrangement.”
Earlier, the Lagos Resident Electoral Commissioner, Sam Olumekun announced that at least three security personnel would be required to man each of the 1928 polling units in the five component local government areas in the senatorial district, stressing that “Iron cast security arrangement is similarly mandatory in the 61 RACs, 71 RA, 5LGA, 1SC and 1 Senatorial district collation centres situated in the zone that would host election next week.”