Persons Living With Disability have been assured of safety during the forthcoming elections by security agencies alongside the Independent National Electoral Commission, on Thursday.
This was made known during the inauguration of The Albino Foundation Africa Election App, which took place at an inter-security agencies training workshop by the European Union.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said PWDs are a major democratic demography and have strong electoral strength, adding that their right to vote and be voted for must be ensured, as it is one of the most visible gains in a thriving democracy.
Yakubu, who was represented by the INEC National Commissioner in charge of South-West, Prof. Kunle Ajayi, said, “INEC has put in place disability framework towards providing a level playing field for the PWD community.
“In an unfortunate incident or occurrence of electoral violence, threat or intimidation, the PWDs are, unfortunately, the most vulnerable groups that may be most adversely affected. Hence, most of them shy away from the polls to safeguard themselves, which not only leads to voter apathy but significantly disenfranchises them. Hence, the important need for electoral security.
“Very importantly, therefore, we need you, the security agents, to appreciate and prioritise the safety and protection of PWDs in order to give them the confidence and courage to come out in mass to exercise their franchise on the election day.”
Speaking at the event, the Commissioner of Police in charge of electoral affairs, Basil Idegwu, said that the personnel of the Police Force would avail PWDs maximum security during the elections.
Idegwu said, “In 2021, a PWD desk was established in all zonal and state offices across the federation.
“The current security situation in various parts of the country constitutes a security threat to the 2023 general elections.
“It requires a robust strategy to deal with, while we work with the PWDs in ensuring that their safety is prioritised.”
The Chief Executive Officer, TAF, Jake Epelle, said insecurity is primarily responsible for voter apathy, hence the need for security personnel to protect voters on election day.
He said “The greatest problem in the community with PWDs is voter apathy. People are afraid to get involved in the election process because of insecurity which is the greatest factor responsible for voter apathy.
“It means that PWDs who want to get involved in the electoral process must be secured and for us to be secured, it cannot be without the security agencies.”