The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said the burning and destruction of its facilities in some states may affect electoral activities in the country.
The commission’s chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, at an emergency meeting with Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) in Abuja on Wednesday, said the systematic attacks on its offices across the country may affect its plans ahead of the 2023 general elections.
“Surely, these attacks are no longer freak events but appear to be quite orchestrated and targeted at INEC,” Mr Yakubu said.
“Clearly, these acts of unjustifiable aggression may undermine the commission’s capacity to organise 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 elections.”
The chairman said this in reaction to the latest attack on two of its offices in Ebonyi State, which is a possible offshoot of the worrying cases of recent attacks in the South-east states.
At least, six of the commission’s facilities in the region have been razed by unknown persons within three weeks.
While the two INEC facilities were razed on May 2 and 9 in Akwa Ibom and Abia respectively by unknown persons, similar attacks were recorded in two of its offices in Enugu on May 16 and 19.
Electoral materials estimated at millions of naira were destroyed in the incidents.
Mr Yakubu lamented the destruction of the facilities and its consequential effects on the commission’s growth in the striving economic period.
“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 INEC chairman said.
He called for more help from security agencies and residents in safeguarding other standing facilities across the country.
Preparations for Anambra election, others
But Mr Yakubu said the commission will not be deterred in its preparation for the Anambra governorship election as well as other the state and federal bye-elections slated for June in Kaduna and Jigawa respectively.
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“Apart from the CVR, we shall continue our preparations for two bye-elections scheduled for the 19th June 2021 in Sabon Gari State Constituency in Kaduna State and Gwaram Federal Constituency in Jigawa State while awaiting the official declaration of vacancies by the House of Representatives for the Jos North/Bassa Federal Constituency in Plateau State and Lere Federal Constituency in Kaduna State.
“Furthermore, preparations for the Anambra State Governorship election to be held on 6th November 2021 and the FCT Area Council election scheduled for 12th February 2022 will be prioritised. Similarly, we shall continue our early preparations for 2023 General Election.
“In this regard, the Commission has already established an Election Project Plan (EPP) Committee to work on the 2023 Election Plan. The idea is to complete the Plan early enough and make sure that we are fully ready for the election, which is now only 640 days away,” the INEC Chairman said.