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Expert urges INEC to ramp up security at its facilities

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INEC has recorded another attack on its office in Njaba Local Government Area of Imo. Photo/TWITTER/INENIGERIA

A security expert, Dr. Ona Ekhomu, has urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to provide effective security counter-measures at its offices to protect the facilities and safeguard the people, as well as the mission of the election umpire.

Ekhomu urged INEC to conduct a robust vulnerability assessment of its facilities so that observable and exploitable loopholes could be identified and addressed with appropriate physical security systems, including electronic, personnel and structural measures.

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In a statement in Lagos, yesterday, Ekhomu, who is President of the Association of Industrial Security and Safety Operators of Nigeria (AISSON), condemned the vandalism and torching of INEC facilities and assets throughout the country.

He said it was not in the interest of INEC to play “victim” or engage in “blame-game.”

He said the fact that about 42 offices of INEC had been attacked in 14 states showed that the election agency has a huge reputation problem.

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“Boko Haram bombing of INEC facilities in Suleja, Niger State and in Maiduguri in 2011 were pre-cursor events to intentional targeting of the electoral body.

“Insurgents and terrorists were borrowing from the ‘Boko Haram playbook’ to attack INEC facilities.

“Clearly, these insurgents are contesting the legitimacy of the governments – national and sub-national. So, in their minds, attacking INEC – a major symbol of Nigerian democracy and sovereignty – will help them achieve their aims,” he said.

Ekhomu, who is the first chartered security professional in West Africa, said that robust physical security measures were needed in each INEC facility with intrusion detection systems, video surveillance systems, fire alarm systems, fire suppression systems complete with on-site water storage and so on.

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He said that each INEC state headquarters office should have good structural security systems such as perimeter fencing with anti-personnel barrier atop; reinforced concrete walls; Class 350 safes; special vaults whose doors will be tool resistant and torch resistant and explosives resistant to safeguard important devices, such as card readers.

Ekhomu advised INEC to appoint a national security director, charged with the design and implementation of a pro-active and cost-effective security programme for the agency, advising against the usual practice of appointing a retired military or police officer to such a position, as he/she might not have the requisite high-level skills.

He also advised INEC to utilise local vigilance personnel, private security operatives and others to protect their facilities, urging the aggrieved youths to stop burning INEC facilities, as any fire loss is a loss to the nation.

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