The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu has stated that the series of attacks on the Commission’s facilities may undermine capacity to organise elections and dent the nation’s electoral process.
Yakubu, who decried the attacks, said “these attacks are no longer freak events but appear to be quite orchestrated and targeted at INEC.”
He expressed worry that the attacks may affect its preparations for elections.
Checks by The Nation revealed that the number of offices of the Commission that have been torched is now 23.
A breakdown of the incidents showed that the most affected states include Akwa Ibom (four), Abia (three) Anambra (two) and Imo (two).
Other states that witnessed fire incidents between February 2019 and May 2021 are Borno, Ebonyi, Jigawa, Kano, Ondo, Plateau and Rivers. Abuja was also affected.
Yakubu in a statement shared by INEC’S official twitter handle @inecnigeria, lamented that the spate of arson and vandalisation targeting the Commission’s facilities and property has become profoundly worrisome.
The statement reads in part; “Unfortunately, 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 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.
“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.
“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,” the statement added.