Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega, yesterday, hinted that the power of the military as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution (as amended), does not empower it to monitor elections.
Speaking at a town hall meeting in Abuja, organised by Reinvent Media in conjunction with Ford Foundation and Kukah Centre, where he entertained questions on the state of preparedness of the electoral commission ahead of the March 28 and April 11 elections, Jega said the military can only intervene by mounting security at the polling units, if there was any breakdown of law and order. Even that can only be done at the invitation of the Inspector-General of Police
The Police, according to Jega, can handle security during elections, but are required to stay some 300 metres from polling units.
He cautioned that the military must be restricted to its role as defined by the Constitution if there is a breakdown of law and order.
“They (military) are there so that if there is a breakdown of law and order which the Police are unable to contain, then they could be rapidly deployed to be able to assist.
“The Army is not supposed to be visible or to be around any polling unit unless there is a breakdown of law and order and they have been invited by the Inspector-General of Police.
“As far as we are concerned, the role of every security agency as it affects the electoral process is to add value but within the constitutionally-defined roles,” Jega said.
He noted that the six weeks postponement of the elections has afforded the commission ample time to greatly improve on its preparations.
He expressed satisfaction over improved security situation in the north eastern part of the country. However, he said that only Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, in the three affected states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe, will be allowed to vote.