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Thugs have been mobilised for Kogi, Bayelsa polls, says INEC

Chinedu Asadu

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says thugs have been mobilised to disrupt the governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states.

Mahmood Yakubu, INEC chairman, said this on Friday while speaking at the quarterly meeting of the inter-agency consultative committee on election security (ICCES) taking place in Abuja.

He said the commission has discovered that politicians are sponsoring thugs to disrupt and influence the elections scheduled for November 16.

Yakubu said: “There are already warning signals in the two sates (which) are politically volatile. Our own risk assessment which will be shared with the security agencies at this meeting has identified some flash points.

“We are also concerned that thugs have been mobilised from within and outside the states with the aim of either influencing the elections or disrupting the process on behalf of partisan sponsors.

“This calls for a robust response before the elections, on election day and during the process of collation and declaration of results.”

He told the security agencies that Nigerians expect that lessons must have been learnt from previous elections to ensure a swift security response to the “increasing desperation by political actors to disrupt elections and subvert the will of the electorate”.

“If that happens, many Nigerians will blame the electoral umpire and the security agencies. We must continue to rise to this challenge,” he added.

He said INEC on its part remains committed to the integrity of the electoral process.

“Over the last seven months, we have been working assiduously to ensure that we conduct credible elections. We cannot undermine the processes we have so laboriously established,” he added.

“We have been re-assured by the security agencies that election day activities at polling units and collation centres will not be disrupted by the activities of hoodlums neither will thugs be allowed to cart away results sheets or compel our returning officers to make declarations under duress.

“We are equally re-assured that security personnel will adhere strictly to the standard operational guidelines and deal decisively with misconduct by their personnel on election duty.”

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