Thursday, 20 October 2016

National Security and politics of election postponement - Yushau Shuaib

 It is no more news that national security and security threats have been cited to justify postponements of elections under former President Goodluck Jonathan and the current President Muhammadu Buhari. However, the postponement of
the last governorship election in Edo State have been labelled by some people, notably, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as having political undertone, as the party doubted the sincerity of the security agencies and playing to the gallery.
Section 26(1) of the Electoral Act, 2010 (As Amended), which supports postponement of elections states that: “Where a date has been appointed for the holding of an election, and there is reason to believe that a serious breach of the peace is likely to occur if the election is proceeded with on that date or it is impossible to conduct the elections as a result of natural disasters or other emergencies, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) may postpone the election and shall in respect of the area, or areas concerned, appoint another date for the holding of the postponed election, provided that such reason for the postponement is cogent and verifiable.”
While justifying the postponement of 2015 general elections at a Press Conference on February 7, 2015, the then INEC Chairman, Professor Attahiru M. Jega stated that he received a letter from the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), then under Sambo Dasuki drawing attention to four Northeast states of Borno, Yobe, Adamawa and Gombe who had experienced the challenge of insurgency. The letter stated that security could not be guaranteed during the proposed period in February 2015 for the general elections.
Jega added that: “This advisory was reinforced at the Council of State meeting where the NSA and all the Armed Services and Intelligence Chiefs unanimously reiterated that the safety and security of our operations cannot be guaranteed, and that the Security Services needed at least six weeks within which to conclude a major military operation against the insurgency in the Northeast; and that during this operation, the military will be concentrating its attention in the theatre of operations such that they may not be able to provide the traditional support they render to the Police and other agencies during elections.”

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