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“2023 election may be dangerous, if…” – INEC

The 2023 general elections may be in jeopardy, unless concerted efforts are made to halt the worsening insecurity, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) warned yesterday.

According to the electoral agency, the mounting security challenges and electoral impunity cannot guarantee a conducive atmosphere for the electoral process.

INEC said the fear of deployment to conflict areas by adhoc staff is worrisome, adding that many of the over one million non-permanent workers, who participated in the 2019 polls, showed apprehension.

Threats to peaceful elections highlighted by the commission include communal conflicts, farmer/ herder conflicts, insurgency, secessionist agitations, banditry kidnapping, and “plain criminality”.

However, the agency assured that it would find ways of navigating through the challenges.

INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, who spoke with our correspondent in Abuja, maintained that the challenges are real.

He said the country must break the circle of impunity, violence and identity theft to have peaceful polls.

Okoye said: “There will be challenges for the 2023 elections. There will be challenges of heightened insecurity in most parts of the country and the commission must find ways and means of navigating through these challenges. These become difficult in situations where ad-hoc staff members are nervous at being deployed to conflict areas as they are not sure of their security.

“The country must also break the cycle of impunity accentuated by electoral violence and make our elections as civil as possible. The commission must also find ways and means of populating some of the newly created Polling Units. The commission will therefore, accelerate voter education around the communities and also engage in batch transfer of voters.

“There is also the challenge of trust and confidence in the electoral process. The commission has increasingly deepened democracy through the use of technology and those that are engaged in multiple voting and identity theft will have a hard time during the 2023 general elections.

“There are different dimensions to the security challenges in the country. We have communal conflicts, we have farmers/ herders conflicts, we have insurgency, we have secessionist agitations, we have serious cases of banditry, we have breaches of territorial integrity of the country, we have cases of kidnapping and plain criminality in different parts of the country.

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