The Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC) has revealed that some of its officials experienced threats, harassment, intimidation, assault, abduction and rape during the Presidential and National Assembly elections on February 23.
The commission stated this on Friday in a statement issued by the INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education committee, Festus Okoye, after its meeting held on Thursday, February 28, with Resident Electoral Commissioners(RECs) in Abuja, to review the presidential and National Assembly elections and also to assess preparations for the governorship, State House of Assemby and the Federal Capital Territory Area Council elections scheduled for Saturday, March 9.
According to Okoye, “Although the elections were generally peaceful, the meeting observed and decried the high level of violence in a few places, which, regrettably led to fatalities in some states, in addition to the subjugation of some of our electoral officials to threats, harassment, intimidation, assault, abduction and even rape.”
The statement said that INEC Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) were directed to submit comprehensive reports of the incidents for appropriate action.
While condoling with the families of its ad-hoc staff who lost their lives on national assignment, as well as other Nigerians who died in the course of the elections, INEC expressed regrets and sympathy for all victims of the violence, saying “we stand with them in these difficult times.”
Okoye disclosed further that “the meeting acknowledged the delays in the commencement of elections in a number of polling units which necessitated the extension of the closing of polls in the affected areas. The commission is determined to rectify the identified challenges before the elections on March 9.
“The meeting, among others, assessed the role of security agencies in the elections. While acknowledging their professionalism in the deployment of election personnel and materials in a safe and timely manner, the conduct of certain members of the security agencies in some states is a matter of serious concern to the commission.
“This matter will be further discussed directly with the Inspector-General of Police within the ambit of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security in preparation for the governorship, state Houses of Assembly and FCT Area Council elections.