Fifty per cent of non-sensitive materials for Nov. 6 Anambra governorship election has been lost, following attacks on Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) office by hoodlums.
INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Mr Festus Okoye disclosed this in a statement in Abuja on Monday.
Okoye said three offices of the commission were attacked in Anambra, Imo and Enugu State.
He said the Anambra INEC Resident Electoral Commissioners (REC) , Dr Nkwachukwu Orji, his Imo counterpart, Prof. Francis Ezeonu and that of Enugu state, Mr Emeka Ononamadu reported that the attacks took place at various times on Sunday night.
Okoye said INEC state headquarters in Awka was set ablaze in the most devastating onslaught on the commission’s facilities so far.
He described the attacks as clearly orchestrated and targeted at incapacitating the commission to prevent it from conducting electoral activities, especially in Anambra.
“The attackers were systematic and selective in their targets. The Pavilion which serves as Collation Centre during major elections was burnt down.
“In what is a major blow to our preparations for the governorship election scheduled for Nov. 6, two stores housing electoral materials were also burnt down.
“New and old (but serviceable) electric generating machines, numbering 376 for all the Electoral Wards and the extra numbers for backup were completely burnt.
“The electric generators were recently relocated from the Local Government Areas (LGAs) to the State HQ in the belief that it is more secure than the LGA offices.
“Similarly, as part of the commission’s proactive measures to ensure success of the governorship election later this year, about 50 per cent of the non-sensitive materials required for the Nov. 6, governorship election already delivered to the state have also been lost in the fire.
“In addition, seven utility vehicles (Toyota Hilux) were burnt,” Okoye said.
He said that following the fire incident on the eve of the 2019 general election in which the Smart Card Readers for the state were destroyed, the commission moved the replacement from the shipping containers to the concrete store for enhanced protection.
“Fortunately, the Smart Card Readers were not affected,” he said.
Okoye said the INEC office in Ahiazu Mbaise LGA of Imo was also attacked on Sunday at about 6.45pm in an obvious attempt to set the building ablaze.
“Fortunately, the damage was limited to a section of the building, specifically the windows and part of the roof.
“No electoral materials or office equipment were destroyed,” he said.
Okoye also disclosed that at about 1pm on Sunday, INEC office at Igboeze South LGA of Enugu state was attacked.
He said the office store was completely burnt down before the neighborhood watch and the State Fire Service responded and prevented the inferno from razing other parts of the building.
“This is the third attack on INEC facilities in the state in less than two weeks, following the destruction of our Udenu LGA office on May 13 and the state headquarters building in Enugu on May 16.
“All three incidents in Anambra, Imo and Enugu have been reported to the police for investigations.
“Although no lives were lost, these are clearly orchestrated and targeted attacks aimed at incapacitating the commission in conducting electoral activities, especially in Anambra ,” Okoye said.
He added that the attacks on the commission’s facilities had become a national emergency.
“Accordingly, the commission will brief the government and stakeholders on the incidents,” he said.
Okoye, however, said that in spite of the setbacks, the commission was determined to continue to discharge its responsibilities, including conduct of the Anambra governorship election. (NAN)