No Masked Security Officials For 2015 Polls – Jega

[caption id="attachment_300" align="alignright" width="296"]Jega Jega[/caption]

The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC,  has announced that it will not allow the use of masked security men during next year's general elections. The announcement was made by Professor Attahiru Jega, Chairman of the commission, on Wednesday an during interactive session with local and international civil society organisations, CSOs. Jega  lamented the increasing use of hooded security officers during elections and affirmed that security personnel on duty for the 2015 polls must be identifiable. “In recent times, we have witnessed an increased presence of hooded security operatives during elections. This is an emerging trend, which is highly worrisome and which needs to be addressed in good time. "Security agents who are deployed on election duties should not be masked, the doctrine of transparency requires that they should be identifiable," Jega said in a statement indicating his agreement with criticisms of deployment of hooded security officials by the military and the Department of State Security, DSS, in the Osun State gubernatorial election. Jega said the Commission will not allow the deployment of such persons during the 2015 elections. According to him, "any security personnel deployed for the election must be someone identifiable such that if anything happens we will be able to know who to hold responsible.” Jega also condemned what he described as the “over-zealousness” of some security agents deployed for the August 9 governorship election in Osun state. He revealed that some staff of the Commission and nine NYSC members engaged as INEC ad-hoc staff, were unjustly arrested around 9pm on the eve of the election while on their way to the Registration Area Centres. According to Jega, the INEC staff and the NYSC members were not released until about 6am the next day, a situation he said almost disrupted the distribution of electoral materials in some areas. “We took a serious view of that and reported the matter to all the appropriate authorities because at a point we became worried that some persons wanted to undermine our effort,” said Jega. But the INEC Chairman insisted that rather than deter voters, heavy deployment of security men encouraged them to come out to exercise their franchise in the Osun and Ekiti polls. “Apart from over-zealousness on the part of some of the security men on the field, we discovered that people actually felt more secured to exercise their franchise," said Jega. He added that the two elections have also shown that the era of rigging elections through corrupt electoral officers or security agents to manipulate elections is gone. “In this era, any politician that intends to win election must reach out and convince the voters, be it through ‘stomach-infrastructure’ or otherwise. "The only guarantee to win election now is to let the voters come out to vote for you, which in turn means that you must first of all convince them on your credibility,” said the INEC chairman.


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