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Attack on our offices threatening 2023 polls –INEC

…as commission records over 20 fire incidents in states

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said the orchestrated attacks on its facilities in some parts of the country may affect its capacity to organise the 2023 general election and dent the nation’s electoral process. INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, who spoke at a meeting with Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) from the 36 states of the federation and Abuja, said it would be difficult to replace these facilities in the face of prevailing economic circumstances in the country. Prof. Yakubu noted that the damaged facilities were not only limited to voting materials but also materials used for other critical electoral activities such as voter registration, the coordination of stakeholder engagements and voter education and sensitisation. “Surely, these attacks are no longer freak events but appear to be quite orchestrated and targeted at INEC.

“The facilities of the Commission are there to serve the local communities for the most fundamental aspect of democratic governance, which is elections. “Therefore, targeting such important national assets and repositories of electoral materials that took time and enormous resources to procure cannot be justified,” he stated.

The INEC Chairman said the meeting with RECs, was to take briefings from them on threats to INEC facilities across the country and deliberate on how best to protect them. “I believe that we can dig deep and draw from the Commission’s longstanding partnership with communities in this regard, in addition to depending on the invaluable support of our security agencies.

“Consequently, the challenges posed by these threats notwithstanding, we are still positive that we can find lasting solutions to the spate of attacks on our facilities. “However, this must be done quickly to forestall disruptions to several upcoming electoral activities, particularly the CVR exercise which we plan to undertake continuously in 2,673 centres nationwide for a period of over one year involving thousands of INEC officials supported by security personnel,” he said. Prof. Yakubu, who disclosed that the Commission would hold a meeting with the security agencies on Monday next week, assured of INEC’s cooperatio “with the security agencies to deal with the perpetrators of these heinous crimes according to the law.”

He called on the communities where INEC facilities are located, to see themselves as owners and custodians of these facilities and assist the Commission in protecting them. Meanwhile, a total of 23 INEC offices are believed to have been affected in different fire incidents.

The commission has suffered attacks on its facilities in Kano, Akwa Ibom, Abia, Enugu and Ebonyi States within a space of one month. Enugu suffered two attacks within two days. In Ebonyi State, the commission’s office in Ezza North Local Government Area was burnt while the Izzi Local Government office was vandalized with the ceiling and doors badly damaged. Jigawa, Ondo, Plateau and Rivers, recorded one attack each. Four of there offices were burnt in Akwa Ibom, three in Abia and two each in Enugu, Anambra and Imo States. These attacks had extensive damage on office buildings, electoral materials and office equipment, at a time INEC is preparing for 2023 general election. Prof. Yakubu regretted that the attack has been on the rise since the 2019 general election but has now developed into a crisis.

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