The Chairperson of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mahmood Yakubu, has said the Commission would ensure a peaceful conduct of the forthcoming council elections in Abuja.

INEC had announced February 12 for the election in the 68 wards of the six Area Councils of the Federal Capital Territory.

From its end, 475 candidates have been cleared by 18 political parties, including Nigeria’s ruling APC and main opposition, PDP, to slug it out for the chairmanship and councillorship seats in Bwari, Abaji Gwagwalada, Kuje, Kwali and Abuja Municipal Council (AMAC).

Using the just concluded November 6 governorship election in Anambra State as a yardstick and the growing concerns on insecurity in the FCT , Mr Yakubu, at the consultative meeting with various security agencies, on Tuesday, said the commission is giving its all to ensure the safety of electorates.

He disclosed that the commission has identified some possible hot spots within its area of coverage for the election and has started making preparations, in collaboration with security agencies to address the threats.

“For our part, the Commission has also been evaluating the risk to the election using the Election Violence Mitigation and Advocacy Tool (EVMAT).

”The aim is to identify early warning signals that could assist the security agencies and other stakeholders in devising and deploying appropriate mitigation strategies. Among other areas of concern, the Commission focused on threats specific to geographical locations, proliferation of small arms and light weapons, the issue of hard drugs, presence of insurgents and armed groups, intra and inter-party conflicts, and incidents of hate speech.

“The hard copy of the summary of the threats and frequency of incidents is included in your folders for this meeting,” he said in his address read at the meeting.

The INEC chairperson did not make known the threat areas as he revealed the commission’s plan to meet other stakeholders, including political parties, candidates, transport workers, CSOs, among others before the poll

On the plans for other bye-elections and the 2022 off cycle governorship elections in Ekiti and Osun States, Mr Mahmood also announced that the period earmarked for political schedule of activities in Ekiti State ended on January 29 as it is bracing up for the June 18 governorship poll.

“All 18 political parties served notices for their party primaries to elect their candidates for the election and invited the Commission to monitor them. One party adopted the direct method for electing its candidate while 16 parties opted for the indirect method.

“However, from on our field report, the Boot Party (BP) did not hold its primary election at any venue known to, and monitored by, the Commission. Consequently, we do not expect the party to nominate a candidate for the Ekiti State Governorship election.”

“On this note, let me once again warn political parties to strictly adhere to the Commission’s timelines for all activities, including the conduct of primaries and nomination of candidates. These timelines are firm and fixed. No deviation or violation will be allowed,” he warned.