The Independent National Electoral Commission has expressed concern over the possibility of political violence ahead of the off-circle elections in Bayelsa, Imo, and Kogi states.
The commission said although the campaign had just started, there are signs of political clashes among opposing political parties and candidates.
The INEC chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, disclosed this at a post-election review with the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security.
He, however, called on security agencies to be neutral and deal decisively with perpetrators of this crime and other undemocratic offenses.
Yakubu said, “As we review the conduct of the last general election, we also need to focus our attention on the forthcoming by-elections and the three off-cycle governorship elections in Bayelsa, Imo, and Kogi States. Campaigns in public in the three states commenced on July 14, 2023, and will continue until Thursday 9th November 9, 2023, i.e. 24 hours before the opening of polls on Saturday 11th November 2023.
“Already, there are ominous signs in the form of violent clashes between opposing political parties and candidates. While maintaining strict neutrality, security agencies should take decisive action against purveyors of violence and other undemocratic activities such as vote buying, attacks on election officials, and disruption of the electoral process.”
He, however, lauded the collaboration between the various security agencies in the country, attributing it to the safe conduct of the election.
Yakubu said, “The synergy enabled us to overcome many of the challenges before the 2023 General Election, including the targeted attacks on INEC offices nationwide. Indeed, the concern that the perennial insecurity in some parts of the country before the election may make our deployment of personnel and materials, and consequently the conduct of polls, impossible did not materialise.
“We wish to place on record our appreciation to the security agencies and other members of ICCES for the largely peaceful conduct of the polls. At the same time, we should draw lessons from the challenges that occurred for improved performance not only in the next general election but also in the bye-elections, the eight off-cycle Governorship elections, and other electoral activities to be held over the next three years.”