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ECOWAS indicts security agencies for ‘creating problems’ in Osun poll

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The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has said the international community and voters in Nigeria believe that security agents might have been used in creating problems for the electoral process.

The Head of Political Affairs, ECOWAS, Dr Remi Ajibewa, said this when he and other ECOWAS officials visited the headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission, according to a statement on Sunday.

Ajibewa said while INEC conducted the Osun governorship election professionally, the same could not be said of the security agencies.

The statement, which was signed by the Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, Mr Rotimi Oyekanmi, read in part, “He (Ajibewa) commended the commission for the conduct of the Osun State governorship election but regretted that while INEC did its best, the international community and voters feared that security agents might have been used to create problems for the electoral process.”

The ECOWAS official reiterated the need for INEC to carry all stakeholders, comprising political parties, the media, civil society organisations and security agencies, along as it prepares for the general elections.  He said INEC should also work closely with the police to secure the electoral process.

Gen. Francis Behanzin, who headed the ECOWAS delegation to INEC, said ECOWAS would deploy 200 observers in Nigeria to monitor the 2019 general elections which will begin in February next year.

Behanzin said the purpose of the visit was to, among other things, find out about INEC’s preparation for the 2019 general elections and the challenges it was facing, in view of Nigeria’s large voter population of over 80 million.

He described Nigeria as “a very big country”, pledging financial support for the conduct of the elections.

Behanzin expressed gratitude to INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, for his contributions towards the improvement of the electoral process and sustenance of democracy across the West-African sub-region.

In his remarks, Yakubu thanked Behanzin for his kind words and seized the opportunity to explain the commission’s preparations for the 2019 polls.

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