With preparation on course ahead of the November 11 governorship elections in Bayelsa, Kogi, and Imo states, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has beefed up security for its staff.
The electoral umpire on Sunday said the move was to improve the safety of all staff, both its ad-hoc staff, especially the National Youth Service Corps members and its staff.
Naija News reports that the Commission’s step to beef up security for its workforce was to avert some incidents of attack on them during the off-cycle elections ahead.
It would be recalled that during the February 25 presidential and national assembly polls and the March 18, 2023 governorship election, incidents of attacks on INEC staff and electoral materials were recorded.
An example was when over 16 staff of the Commission were attacked at Odoakpu Ward 7 Onitsha South Local Government Area Anambra State during the House of Assembly election on March 18, 2023, and electoral materials, including ballot parts, were destroyed.
Similarly, on February 25, 2023, the police in Gombe State confirmed an attack on INEC ad hoc staff camped at the Tudunwada Primary School, in the Gombe metropolis, among other attacks.
Speaking with The Punch, the Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, Rotimi Oyekanmi, disclosed that beyond the improvement of the security alert, the commission is having discussions with security agencies to provide additional security measures.
Oyekanmi said, “Our staff have also been victims of kidnapping while on official duty.
“The commission takes the welfare and security of its staff and all categories of ad-hoc staff seriously.
“We work closely with the security agencies, under the aegis of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security.
“Consultations are ongoing, and additional safety measures are being taken. We have already developed an application that our staff can use to send alerts if they encounter any security challenges while on electoral duty.
“This application proved very useful during the last Anambra Governorship election, and we have improved on it. Other measures cannot be publicly disclosed.”
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