Following the incessant insecurity challenges in parts of Niger state, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Niger State, has on Monday disclosed that eligible voters from 270 polling units displaced from their homes by banditry may not be able to exercise their franchise in the 2023 general elections.
Making this disclosure, Head of Department, Operations, Mohammed Babatunde Yusuf during a Stakeholders meeting with Political Parties, security agencies and other citizens at the State INEC Headquarters in Minna said Munya, Mariga, Shiroro and Rafi Local Government Areas are affected.
According to him “if the current security situation does not improve, the voters in Shiroro Local Government would have to travel about to Minna, the State Capital to vote after which the results would be taken back to Shiroro LGA.
“Eligible voters from 270 polling units have been completely displaced from their homes of which 46 polling units are from Munya LGA, 100 polling units from Mariga LGA, 62 Polling units from Shiroro LGA and 62 Polling units from Rafi LGA have been affected”.
The INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner, Prof Sam Egwu however, in his remarks however said it was not the responsibility of the Commission to convey the IDPs to wherever it establishes to be safe for them to vote.
Professor Egwu further disclosed that the Internally Displaced Persons in 14 Local Government Areas of the state would have the opportunity to vote in the IDP camps “only if security situation in the state does not improve before 2023 general elections”.
He said the highest of ‘no go areas’ due to insecurity were in Shiroro and parts of Munya Local Government Areas.
“INEC already has a policy for IDP voting, but we are calling for support and cooperation from political parties and other stakeholders to achieve the results.
“INEC has created 1,765 new polling units in addition to the existing 3,186 in the state. However, some polling units would be depopulated before the elections.”
Also, the Niger State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Monday Kuryas explained that, the State has been experiencing a lot of security challenges, but security agencies had recently recorded success in the fight against banditry and criminality.
“The State faced a lot of security challenges in 7 Local government Areas, but we have been recording a lot of Successes in our fight against banditry and criminality
“If we maintain the momentum, who knows if the IDPS will return back to their homes”
On the level of preparedness of security agencies ahead of the 2023 elections, the commissioner said they are battle ready for the polls.