The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has raised concerns about the conduct of the 2023 general elections following attack on its facilities nationwide which is pruning down its capacity to conduct future elections effectively.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, stated this on Wednesday during a meeting with Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) at Commissions headquarters in Abuja.
He said, “these attacks are no longer freak events but appear to be quite orchestrated and targeted at INEC. Clearly, these are acts of unjustifiable aggression which may undermine the Commission’s capacity to organise elections and dent the nation’s electoral process,” Yakubu said in reaction to Tuesday night’s attack on two INEC offices in Ebonyi State.
The attacks have adversely affected INEC’s commitment toward improving the country’s electoral process, he warned adding, “this has been on the rise since the 2019 General Election but has now developed into a crisis. In the last three weeks or so, three of our LGA offices in Essien Udim in Akwa Ibom State, Ohafia in Abia State and Udenu in Enugu State have been set ablaze by unidentified persons. Last Sunday, 16th May 2021, our State office in Enugu suffered yet another arson and vandalisation in which parts of the building were ransacked and several vehicles razed. And more of our facilities are being systematically targeted and attacked.”
INEC expressed willingness to work with security agencies to address the attacks, and also urged communities where the Commission’s assets are located to assist in protecting them as the facilities are there, “to serve the local communities for the most fundamental aspect of democratic governance, which is elections.”
The INEC chairman revealed that a meeting with all security agencies had been fixed for May 24, 2021, adding that it was imperative for the communities to support the security agencies to stop the attacks.
He said, “targeting such important national assets and repositories of electoral materials that took time and enormous resources to procure cannot be justified.
“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.”
Yakubu added, “I believe that we can dig deep and draw from the Commission’s longstanding partnership with communities in this regard, in addition to depending on the invaluable support of our security agencies.
“However, this must be done quickly to forestall disruptions to several upcoming electoral activities, particularly the CVR exercise which we plan to undertake continuously in 2,673 centres nationwide for a period of over one year involving thousands of INEC officials”