The Independent National Electoral Commission has said the serial attacks on its offices and facilities, especially in the South-East geopolitical zone, are orchestrated and targeted at the electoral umpire ahead of the 2023 general elections.
The Chairman of INEC, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, on Wednesday met with Resident Electoral Commissioners from across the country at its headquarters in Abuja, where he declared that the attacks on the offices had become a crisis.
Yakubu warned that the attacks might cripple the electoral umpire’s capacity to conduct more election, noting that the 2023 general election “is now only 640 days away (as of Wednesday).”
The chairman said, “Some events in the recent past have challenged the commission and adversely affected our commitment to continue to improve the electoral process. The spate of arson and vandalism targeting the commission’s facilities has become profoundly worrisome.
“Unfortunately, this has been on the rise since the 2019 general elections but has now developed into a crisis. In the last three weeks or so, three of our local government (area) offices in Essien Udim in Akwa Ibom State, Ohafia in Abia State and Udenu in Enugu State have been set ablaze by unidentified persons.
“Last Sunday, 16th May, 2021, our state office in Enugu suffered another attack. More of our facilities are being systematically targeted and attacked.
“Last night, Tuesday, 18th May, 2021, two more offices in Ebonyi and the Ezza North Local Government Areas of Ebonyi State were burnt down. The damage to the physical infrastructure and electoral materials was total.
“These attacks appeared to be quite orchestrated and targeted at INEC. Clearly, these are acts of unjustifiable aggression which may undermine the commission’s capacity to organise elections and dent the nation’s electoral process.”
Yakubu noted that the commission would work with security agencies to “deal with the perpetrators of these heinous crimes according to the law.”
He stressed that a meeting with all the security agencies was to be held on Monday.
On the positive side, the INEC boss said the commission had successfully conducted 28 out of 32 bye-elections across the country since the 2019 general elections, in addition to four end-of tenure governorship elections in Bayelsa, Edo, Kogi and Ondo States.
Yabuku also reported that INEC had virtually completed the necessary preparations for the resumption of the Continuous Voter Registration commencing on June 28, 2021, as well as the November 6 Anambra State governorship election, and the FCT Area Council election scheduled for 12th February 12.”