The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has expressed fear over the upsurge in cases of attacks in Anambra State as the governorship election in the state draws closer.
INEC has scheduled the election for 6 November.
The commision, against the backdrop of the recent attacks on the State Security Service(SSS) and Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) in Nnewi, a town in the state, cast doubt on the safety of its personnel and assets ahead of the election.
In his address at the emergency meeting with heads of security operatives in Abuja on Tuesday, the INEC chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, said the growing rate of attacks in the state may affect the commission’s plan for the poll if not properly curbed by the concerned authorities.
He said he suspected that the attacks may be attempts to stall or discourage the governorship election in the state.
“From the reports we have received, the stated goal of many of the attackers is that the governorship election scheduled for 6th November 2021 must not be held. This is worrisome for the Commission.
“We are deeply concerned that specific electoral facilities and materials could once more become targets of attack. Recall that in May this year, our state office at Awka was attacked and all the non-sensitive materials assembled for the election at the time were destroyed. In addition, our store, collation centre and the main office building were either totally or substantially damaged. The commission also lost several vehicles to be used for the election.
“Happily, we have almost fully recovered from that attack. The destroyed buildings have either been completely repaired or are nearing completion and we have fully replaced the materials destroyed. This rapid recovery has only been possible because this is an off-season election. We have sourced some of these materials such as the 326 electric generators and vehicles destroyed in the attack from neighbouring States.
“However, should we again lose vital materials and facilities, the ongoing preparations will be adversely affected,” Mr Yakubu told security heads.
The chairman nevertheless expressed the commission’s wish to proceed with its preparation for the election but not at the detriment of the security of about 26,000 of its officials, including National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members and university students who will be deployed for the election as well as losing some of its properties they are still struggling to put back after the last attacks.
“We wish to assure the people of Anambra State that the Commission is determined to proceed with the election as scheduled.
“To underscore this determination, the Commission is implementing two more activities on the timetable for the election in the next few days. The register of voters will be presented to political parties in Awka on Thursday 7th October 2021. On the same day, the Commission will publish the final list of candidates for the election,” Mr Yakubu said.
In reaction to the INEC boss’ address, National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno, represented by Sanusi Galadima, said the upsurge of attacks in the state were carried out by the seperationist group in the region to stop the democratic process to promote its agenda.
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He said the NSA has initiated steps and collaborative efforts with other security agencies in the country to stop the separationists’ attempts in the region ahead of the poll.
“I wish to state that NSA, is working assiduously with relevant security and intelligence agencies towards arresting the foregoing ugly trend and other associated security challenges in the South-East zone and beyond.
“This determination of the presidency has already been translated into action by the recent joint military operation code-named “Golden Dawn” in the South-east as well as other security operations across the country. This is in addition to the increasing collaboration between the federal and South-east governors towards addressing the underlying socio economic drivers of insecurity in the region,” he said.