Independent National Electoral Commission has decried the recent attacks on its facilities in the South-South and the South-Eastern part of the country, describing the criminal acts as impediments to the conduct of credible elections in the country.
Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, the Commission’s Chairman, made the disclosure today, during an emergency meeting with the Resident Electoral Commissioners, RECs, at INEC headquarters in Abuja.
According to him, the unfortunate events in the recent past have challenged the Commission and adversely affected its commitment to continue to improve the electoral process.
“The spate of arson and vandalisation targeting the Commission’s facilities and property has become profoundly worrisome. Unfortunately, this has been on the rise since the 2019 General Election but has now developed into a crisis.
“In the last three weeks or so, three of our Local Government 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 yet another arson and vandalisation in which parts of the building were ransacked and several vehicles razed.
And more of our facilities are being systematically targeted and attacked. Just last night, Tuesday 18th May 2021, two more offices in Ebonyi and Ezza North Local Government Areas of Ebonyi State were burnt down.
Although there were no casualties, the damage to the physical infrastructure and electoral materials was total. Nothing has been salvaged from ballot boxes and voting cubicles to generating sets and office furniture and equipment.
“Surely, these attacks are no longer freak events but appear to be quite orchestrated and targeted at INEC. Clearly, these are acts of unjustifiable aggression which may undermine the Commission’s capacity to organize elections and dent the nation’s electoral process.
The facilities of the Commission are there to serve the local communities for the most fundamental aspect of democratic governance, which is election.
“Therefore, targeting such important national assets and repositories of electoral materials that took time and enormous resources to procure cannot be justified.
Replacing these facilities in the prevailing economic circumstances will indeed be a tall order, thereby adversely affecting electoral services in the same communities.
These facilities are not only limited to voting but also used for other critical electoral activities such as voter registration, the coordination of stakeholder engagements and voter
education and sensitization,” the INEC boss said.
Prof. Yakubu maintained that the Commission will certainly work with the security agencies to deal with the perpetrators of these heinous crimes according to the law.
And that it has become imperative to call on all and sundry, particularly communities where these assets are located, to see themselves as owners and custodians of these facilities and assist the Commission in protecting them.