Attack on INEC Offices: Who is afraid of 2023 elections?

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Attack on INEC Offices: Who is afraid of 2023 elections?

June 6, 2021

By Nwafor

By Omeiza Ajayi

Nigeria’s South East and South South geopolitical zones have recently come under increasing attacks by violent gangs who went on the rampage attacking security agencies and personnel as well as Custodial Centres of the Nigeria Correctional Service NCoS.

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However, the situation soon assumed a political dimension following targeted attacks on facilities of the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC.

While there have been no reports of arrests of those who attacked offices of the electoral umpire, the Prof. Mahmood Yakubu-led INEC has been meeting with various stakeholders with a view to halting the trend which he fears could derail preparations for future elections, including the 2023 general elections.

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There have been speculations that the facilities were being attacked by criminal elements who just wanted to throw the states into chaos. But there are political analysts who have also come up with a theory that some people are afraid of losing in the next election and that perhaps, they want a situation whereby the elections would be postponed in order for them to remain in power for an extra time.

Whatever the case is, the government has a duty to take out those responsible for this misfortunes. Like security facilities, INEC offices should be declared “red zones”.

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Timeline of attacks

According to INEC, it has suffered no fewer than 41 violent attacks in the last two years.

Speaking at an emergency meeting of the Interagency Consultative Committee on Election Security ICCES, Prof. Yakubu said; “In the last two years, the Commission has recorded a total of 41 incidents involving deliberate attacks on the Commission’s facilities. Nine of these incidents happened in 2019 and 21 cases in 2020. In the last four weeks, 11 offices of the Commission were either set ablaze or vandalised. Two of these incidents were caused by Boko Haram and bandit attacks while 10 resulted from thuggery during election and post-election violence. However, the majority of the attacks (29 out of 41) were unrelated to election or electoral activities. In fact, 18 of them occurred during the EndSARS protests in October last year while 11 attacks were organised by “unknown gunmen” and ‘hoodlums’.

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“Although the Commission is assessing loss of materials during recent attacks, our preliminary assessment so far indicate that we lost 1,105 ballot boxes, 694 voting cubicles, 429 electric generating sets and 13 utility vehicles (Toyota Hilux). By working together with the security agencies, we can stop these attacks and the wanton destruction of critical electoral assets”.

However, what started as perhaps, isolated incidents in Akwa Ibom state on the eve of the 2019 General Election has suddenly become a pattern.

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On the eve of the said election, INEC’s newly constructed prototype local government office in Ibesikpo Asutan was burnt down while two more offices in Mkpat Enin and Eastern Obolo LGAs were bombed.

Sunday, May 2

On this day, INEC decried the attack on its office in Essien Udim Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom state, saying if the trend is left unchecked, it could derail its preparations ahead of the 2023 general elections.

INEC in a statement said its Resident Electoral Commissioner REC for Akwa Ibom State, Barr. Mike Igini, had reported that its office in Essien Udim Local Government Area had been set ablaze.

“The recent attack on our facility after we have just concluded the inventory of electoral materials nationwide in readiness for the 2023 General Election is worrisome. If unchecked, these attacks may constitute a setback on the Commission’s preparations, including the ongoing conversion of Voting Points to Polling Units, the forthcoming Continuous Registration of Voters (CVR) exercise and the conduct of polls”, the Commission said. 

National Commissioner a