Professor Mahmood Yakubu, Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has hinted that attacks on the commission’s facilities may undermine the conduct of the 2023 general elections.
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Yakubu decried the attacks in a meeting with National Commissioners and Resident Electoral Commissioners in Abuja on Wednesday.
The INEC chairman said, “these attacks are no longer freak events but appear to be quite orchestrated and targeted at INEC”.
It has been reported that 23 INEC offices across the country have now been torched since 2019.
Also, unknown gunmen, on Tuesday, attacked and razed two offices of the electoral body in Ezza North Local Government Area of Ebonyi State.
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Yakubu expressed worry that the attacks may affect the body’s preparations for the next general elections.
Yakubu in a statement shared by INEC’S official twitter handle, lamented that the spate of arson and vandalisation targeting the commission’s facilities and property has become “profoundly worrisome”.
“Unfortunately, some events in the recent past have challenged the Commission and adversely affected our commitment to continue to improve the electoral process,” the statement read in part.
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“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 LGA offices in Essien Udim in Akwa Ibom State, Ohafia in Abia State & 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.
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“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.
“The facilities of the Commission are there to serve the local communities for the most fundamental aspect of democratic governance, which is elections.
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“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 sensitisation.
“The Commission will certainly work with the security agencies to deal with the perpetrators of these heinous crimes according to the law. To this end, a meeting with all the security agencies is holding on Monday 24th May 2021.
“However, 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.”