NIA Demands Security Check on Foreign Poll Observers

The National Intelligence Agency (NIA) has sparked a fresh discussion regarding the accreditation of foreign election observers in Nigeria.

The agency argues that this practice should be reviewed in the national interest and for security reasons. The NIA contends that foreign election observers should not have unrestricted access to critical national security matters.

During a symposium titled 'Elections Monitoring and Observation: 2023 General Election and Way Forward', the Director-General of NIA, Ahmed Abubakar, represented by the agency's Head of General Operations, Hamza Mohammed, emphasized the need for vigilance when it comes to foreign observers.

He said, “We deployed close to 200,000 corps members for the last general elections and of course, they all performed credibly well. Corps member’s participation right from 2011 when we had the first adventure of participating during elections has been commended by Nigerians and the international community.

“Security is very paramount. When you put adequate security in place, you will see more corp members coming out. No responsible parent will want anything bad to happen to the corps members when they are carrying out these duties. You will agree with me also that the conduct of elections in Nigeria is a high-risk adventure, so anywhere we go, we always want to canvass for the security of corps members.

“In the last elections, we witnessed a tremendous improvement in terms of security of corp members. It is almost not impossible for you to deploy almost 200,000 corp members or personnel without having itches. Of course, we recorded a few issues but we did not record any death. Every corp member that was deployed during the last elections came back home.”

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) also played a role in the discussion, advocating for stringent punishment for vote-buying. The EFCC reported that the presence of anti-graft agencies at polling units helped deter the practice during previous elections. It emphasized the importance of amending certain sections of the Electoral Act to impose harsher penalties on those involved in vote buying and selling.

The Director-General of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), Brigadier General Yusha’u Ahmed, represented by the Director of Corps Welfare and Health Services, Ayodele Omotade, mentioned the deployment of approximately 200,000 corps members for the 2023 general elections.

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