The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said on Monday in Abuja that it would not be able conduct the 2015 general elections in states under the state of emergency rule.
The Federal Government had in November extended the emergency rule in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states to six months.
The commission’s Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, disclosed this at a stakeholders’ forum on the preparation and challenges ahead of the 2015 general elections, organised by the Senate Committee on INEC.
Jega said that the decision by the commission was to avoid contravening the law.
Jega, however, said that the commission was hopeful that the security situation in the affected states would improve before the 2015 general elections.
“We are working very closely with security agencies and our hope is that the security challenges in these areas will be long addressed before the 2015 elections.
“We hope that these challenges will be solved or dramatically reduced before 2015. What is clear is that, we cannot conduct elections under a period of emergency.
“If there is generalised insecurity, how can we hold elections? .It will be disrupted or people will not come out. Ideally, elections should not hold under a period of emergency.”
Jega said security was a systemic challenge, but stressed that the commission was working hand in hand with security agencies to ensure adequate security in 2015.
He, however, assured that preparations for the 2015 general elections were on top gear, adding that the commission would need about N92.9 billion to conduct the elections.
He said the commission projected to spend $7.9 (about N1,264) per voter for a total of 73.5 million voters.
He said that the projection represented a reduction of $1 (N160) as against the $8.8 (N1,478) that was projected in 2011, representing 10 per cent drop.
Jega said the commission was anxious to meet its funding requirements ahead of the elections, adding that it was also looking at the possibility of holding the elections between January and February, 2015 to allow for time to resolve all litigations.
The INEC boss said that the commission had so far prosecuted 200 electoral offenders.
“If you compare 200 successful prosecutions with the large number of electoral offenders, it is just a drop in the ocean.
“INEC does not have the capacity to handle a large number. We have been working with the NBA to get accelerated persecution of electoral offenders.
“We hope to persecute more before the 2015 elections. The largest number of offenders we have is with regards to multiple registrations.”
Mrs Mary Dan-Abia, a Director with the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), howeevr, stressed the need for adequate protection for corps members who would be engaged by the commission for the elections.
“Corps members are only ad hoc; they are not INEC staff; but since this is a national assignment, they are usually very enthusiastic about the job.
“However, politicians, INEC staff and members of the public tend to be antagonistic toward them to the point that they are abducted on their way to the polling unit and assaulted.
“We wish that everybody should be aware that they are doing a national assignment and so should not be looked at as enemies.”
Dan-Abia appealed to security agencies to ensure adequate security protection for the corps members before, during and after election.
Chairman, All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Mr Victor Umeh, advocated that N25 billion be appropriated to the 25 remaining political parties to encourage more serious parties to perform better.
Umeh described the allegations that APGA was given N8 billion by the presidency for the Nov. 16, Anambra governorship polls as baseless and unfounded, adding that there was no iota of truth in it.
Earlier, Chairman of the committee, Sen. Andy Ubah (PDP-Anambra), said that it was important to address any lapses that might be observed, to strengthen the election management body for optimal performance in 2015.
“The 2015 general elections will be an important election for Nigeria, the sub-region and the rest of the international community.
“The burden of delivering on successful elections lay squarely on our shoulders,” Ubah said.