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Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has expressed strong fears over the possibility of conducting the 2023 general election in three local government areas (LGAs) in Imo State.
INEC had listed Orlu, Osu, and Njaaba as the three councils, lamenting that while their offices have either been razed down completely, some of the areas were still inaccessible to the commission’s staff.
Imo State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Francis Ezeonu, made the disclosure in Abuja, yesterday, during stakeholders’ validation meeting on the 2022 revised framework and regulations for voting by Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).
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Addressing the participants during the technical session presided over by the Chairman of the commission, Mahmood Yakubu, the Imo REC described Izu and Njaaba as the worst volatile areas.
Talking about violence and the IDPs in Imo State, I can only talk about violence-prone areas because that is what is prevalent in the state.
‘In Osu, particularly, people are no longer staying there because the area is very volatile. Osu council has boundary with Anambra State, especially at Izombe axis. Our office there has been completely burnt down.
‘The situation is even worse in Izu Njaaba because it is a no go area now. Our staff can no longer even go to work in that council because it is sometimes inaccessible in addition to understandable fear of the security of their lives.
‘The third council is the Orlu. We are experiencing almost the same situation there. Osu is fair compared to Izu and Njaaba that are seriously facing security challenges due to actions and inactions of gunmen.
‘However, like my colleague in Zamfara said, it is not a completely bad situation because sometimes, it will improve and everywhere will look very peaceful while at other times, it will deteriorate and become very highly volatile,’ he said.
However, contributing to the security strategies, both the commission’s boss and the security agencies, reassured the poll would not only be peaceful but also secured.
Yakubu said: “All I want to say is to emphasis the appeal by the commission for more synergy among the security agencies. It is very important we synergies.
‘The commission, security agencies, religious and traditional leaders, civil society groups and every other stakeholder must see security as a national challenge that must be surmounted. We can address this issue of security challenges, including the opportunity for the IDPs to vote. All we are assuring is that there will be a peaceful and secured general election next year.’
The Department of State Services (DSS) and the military said based on security reports and intelligence, security situation would not pose any threat to the poll.