More than 15 months after President Muhammadu Buhari vowed to give attackers of its offices “the shock of their lives“, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has continued to incur damages from consistent razing of its offices across the country.
INEC announced late Friday that its office in Orlu Local Government Area of Imo State was attacked again by suspected arsonists.
The fresh attack, which is the fourth in three weeks, came less than three years after the same facility was completely burnt down by unidentified persons.
Festus Okoye, INEC’s Commissioner for Information and Voter Education Committee, said the attack was confirmed by Professor Sylvia Uchenna Agu, the commission’s Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for Imo.
“The building, which is undergoing extensive renovation following an earlier attack, was vandalised and partially set ablaze.
“Three out of seven construction workers were abducted but later released. The damage would have been more extensive but for the quick response of the Nigeria Police which has deployed its personnel to the site,” said Okoye.
The commission reiterated that should attacks on its facilities continue unabated, it would have “negative consequences” on its preparations for the 2023 general election.
About three weeks ago, INEC called an emergency meeting after two of its offices in Ogun and Osun States were attacked and 65,699 Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) and 29 voting cubicles, amongst others, were destroyed.
After the Osun and Ogun attacks, the commission’s office in Izzi Local Government Area of Ebonyi State was set ablaze by hoodlums, resulting in the destruction of 340 ballot boxes, 130 voting cubicles and voter cards, amongst others.
At the peak of attacks on its facilities in 2021, the INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, expressed concern that the commission’s capacity to conduct the 2023 general election was being undermined.
President Buhari had at the time met with the INEC management at the State House, where he vowed that attacks on the commission’s facilities will be stopped.
“I receive daily security reports on the attacks, and it is very clear that those behind them want this administration to fail.
“Insecurity in Nigeria is now mentioned all over the world. All the people who want power, whoever they are, you wonder what they really want. Whoever wants the destruction of the system will soon have the shock of their lives. We’ve given them enough time,” Buhari had told the INEC management led by its chairman.