Nigeria’s election body, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has raised the alarm that the constant setting ablaze of its facilities in some states has the capacity of affecting the commission’s preparation for the 2023 general election.
This is coming as the Resident Electoral Commissioner for Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Mike Igini, has reported that INEC office in Essien Udim Local Government Area has been set ablaze.
Gunmen yesterday set ablaze the office of the INEC in Essien Udim LGA headquarters, Afaha Ikot Ebak, of Akwa Ibom state.
Essien Udim is the local government area of the Minister of the Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio.
Armed bandits in their numbers riding on motorcycles were said to have launched the mayhem at about 3:00am yesterday despite the ban by the state government on riding of motorcycles at night.
After setting the INEC office on fire, the hoodlums, equally attacked herdsmen and killed about 12 cattle killed while the herdsmen fled for their lives.
The herdsmen that escaped reportedly alerted security operatives to come for their rescue.
The Director, Public Affairs at Akwa Ibom State headquarters of INEC, Mr. Don Etukudoh, said he was yet to establish the motive of the arsonists who attacked their office in Essien Udim.
“Yes, I can confirm it to you that our office at Essien Udim has been burnt down; we are yet to get details,” he said.
Also speaking, the Chairman of Essien Udim Local Government, Mr. Anthony Luke, described the incident as unfortunate, as the local government has in the recent times become an epicenter of cults war with security agencies, including the Police, Customs and Army as well as government institutions as the targets of hoodlums.
A military operation against the hoodlums, including land and aerial bombardments were launched last month in their base in Ikot Akpan in Essien Udim local council.
“Yes, it is true that the INEC office in my Local Government has been razed down by hoodlums. I don’t know who they are, what they want and the motive behind this violence.
“It is only the security agencies who have been on top of the situation that will be able to unravel the reasons behind these series of attacks,” he said
Meanwhile, in a statement issued yesterday by
The National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee of INEC, Mr. Festus Okoye, said that the incident occurred in the early hours of yesterday, May 2, 2021.
“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.”
According to Okoye, “our security guard on duty escaped unhurt but the destruction to the building and properties therein was extensive. Items destroyed include 345 ballot boxes, 135 voting cubicles, megaphones, water tanks and office furniture.
“The police, which have also been battling with attacks on their facilities and personnel in the area, were aware of the incident and have commenced investigation,”Okoye said.
Okoye recalled that on the eve of the 2019 general election, INEC’s newly constructed prototype LGA office in Ibesikpo Asutan was burnt down while two more offices in Mkpat Enin and Eastern Obolo LGAs were bombed.