Group warns of threat to 2023 polls in northeast Nigeria

Group warns of threat to 2023 polls in northeast Nigeria

The Conflict Research Network, West Africa (CORN West Africa) on Tuesday raised the alarm that terrorism could threaten the peaceful conduct of 2023 elections in northeast Nigeria if a proactive specific security plan was not designed for the zone.

While alerting the Federal Government and security agencies, the research network stated that improved security of lives and properties before the elections in the northeast would encourage people to come out to vote.

The CORN West Africa is a knowledge platform and academic community for scholars based institutions in West Africa working in the field of peace, security, and political violence with a growing network of more than 150 members across 35 institutions in West Africa.

This was part of recommendations at the CORN West Africa Research colloquium webinar themed: “Nigeria Decides 2023: Conducting elections in context of political violence and state fragility”.

Babayo Sule, of the Department of International Relations, Federal University of Kashere, Gombe State and member of the Conflict Research Network, West Africa speaking on the topic, “Election amid terror: Terrorism and the 2023 elections in Nigeria’s northeast”, said, “terrorism remains a major threat to the conduct of 2023 elections in the northeast, arguing that elections may not hold in areas under the control of terror groups in the northeast except counter-terrorism campaign is stepped up to clear the way.

He said the government must “significantly reduce the areas that are under the control and influence of Boko Haram before the 2023 general elections. Extra security personnel should be deployed to ensure the safety of lives, properties, INEC officials and electoral materials.”

According to him, many areas in the northeast remain inaccessible while several people have been internally displaced which will impact on their participation in the elections.

Sule said, “on election day in 2015, the Boko Haram terrorists coordinated multiple attacks on polling units in Gombe, Bauchi, Yobe, Borno and Adamawa killing election officials while destroying electoral materials. Voters were killed while the electorates dispersed and never returned to cast their votes in the affected areas.

He further noted that “because of the activities of the insurgents, several remote areas could not be accessed and transporting election materials proved impossible”, adding that necessary measures must be put in place to avoid a repeat of the similar scenario in the 2023 elections.