The Independent National Electoral Commission has expressed deep concern over attack on its facilities especially in the South East.
The Commission said there is nothing less than declaring a national emergency on such act of destruction.
The INEC, said it has resolved to formally brief the Federal Government and stakeholders about the emerging security threats and the dangers they pose.
After a crucial meeting in Abuja it said it was worried at the sustained attack on INEC facilities, the latest in the series being the systematic attacks that razed INEC offices in Anambra, Enugu and Imo states.
Barrister Festus Okoye, INEC National Commissioner and Chairman Information and Voter Education in a statement said that the Resident Electoral Commissioners (REC) for Anambra, Imo and Enugu States, Dr. Nkwachukwu Orji; Professor Francis Ezeonu, and Emeka Ononamadu, respectively reported the attacks which took place at various times Sunday night.
In Anambra State he said the “State Headquarters office in Awka was set ablaze in the most devastating onslaught on the Commission’s facilities so far”.
According to him “the attackers were systematic and selective in their targets. The Pavillion 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 6th November 2021, two stores housing electoral materials were 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.
Also “as part of the Commission’s proactive measures to ensure the success of the Governorship election later this year, about 50% of the non-sensitive materials required for the November 6, 20201 Governorship election already delivered to the State have also been lost in the fire. In addition, seven utility vehicles (Toyota Hilux) were burnt.
Fortunately, Okoye disclosed, the smart card readers were not affected by the arson having been stored in a secure location.
In Imo State, the Commission reported that it’s office in Ahiazu Mbaise Local Government Area was attacked 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”.
The situation was however different in Enugu where the Commission said its Igboeze South LGA office was attacked. and store completely burnt down before the Neighborhood Watch and the Enugu State Fire Service responded to stem the damage.
“This is the third attack on INEC facilities in Enugu State in less than two weeks following the destruction of our Udenu LGA office on 13th May 2021 and the State Headquarters building in Enugu on 16th May 2021.
“All three incidents in Anambra, Imo and Enugu have been reported to the Police for investigation.
“Although no lives were lost, these are clearly orchestrated and targeted attacks aimed at incapacitating the Commission in conducting electoral activities, especially in Anambra State.
“The attacks on the Commission’s facilities have now become a national emergency. Accordingly, the Commission will brief the Government and stakeholders on these incidents.”
Okoye however assured that the setbacks would not deter the commission in its resolve to continue to discharge its responsibilities, including the conduct of the scheduled Anambra Governorship election.