The National Secuity Adviser (NSA) has formally written to the Independent National Electric Commission (INEC) indicating that security cannot be guaranteed in 14 local government areas in the North East.
According to a report in This Day, the INEC chairman acknowledged the receipt of the letter on Wednesday at the Council of State meeting.
While briefing the Council of State meeting on the preparedness of the commission towards the Elections, which will kick off on Februay 14, Jega was quoted as saying:
“I am sure this August body will be appraised of the security situation for the elections by the responsible authority.
“Yesterday, for example, we received a letter from the Office of the National Security Adviser informing us of recent developments in four of the North-east states, stating that safety and security cannot be guaranteed during the proposed election period, adducing reasons why this is so, and strongly advising that INEC considers rescheduling the elections by at least six weeks within the provisions of the electoral legal framework, and within which time span it is hoped to restore sufficient normalcy for elections to hold.
“This is a new development that INEC cannot certainly ignore or take lightly.
“I thank you for the opportunity to provide this briefing.”
After his presentation, THISDAY learnt that members of the council voiced their concerns for or against the postponement of the election.
President Goodluck Jonathan, a presidency source said, impressed it on those present that it would be necessary to shift the dates for the elections in order to guaranty the safety of voters, electoral officials and even security personnel in the North-east.
He expressed concern that if a vital section of the country was left out of the elections, the legitimacy of the candidate(s) who emerge victorious could be challenged on the grounds that millions of voters could not exercise their franchise during the elections.
His position was backed by the Niger State Governor Babangida Aliyu, who spoke after the president, and other governors of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
However, governors of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who had met the night before to arrive at a common position to press ahead with the polls, insisted that the elections should go ahead as planned.
Alongside the presidential candidate of the APC, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari, they argued that heightened insecurity in about 14 Boko Haram-occupied local government areas out of 774 in the country should not stop the elections from going ahead as scheduled.
In their contributions, ex-military heads of state, Generals Yakubu Gowon, Ibrahim Babangida and Abdulsalami Abubakar, alongside a former Chief Justice of the Nigeria (CJN), Justice Moddibo Alfa Belgore, acknowledged that the fears over security concerns in the North-east could not be ignored, but advised Jega to proceed with the elections as scheduled in other states of the federation.
Belgore’s predecessor, Justice Muhammad Uwais, however, kept quiet throughout the deliberations.