The 2023 elections appears in danger with the burning of another Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) office, this time in Iboko, Izzi Local Government Area of Ebonyi State, South East Nigeria.
According to the National Commissioner and Chairman Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, the incident occurred on Sunday morning.
He said the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for Ebonyi State, Mrs Onyeka Pauline Ugochi, reported that that the incident occurred around 10.00am when some unidentified persons set the entire building ablaze.
According to him, although no casualties resulted from the attack, the main building and all the movable and immovable items inside it were destroyed.
“These include 340 ballot boxes, 130 voting cubicles, 14 electric power generators, large water storage tanks, assorted office furniture and fixtures and yet to be determined quantities of Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs),” Okoye said.
He lamented that this is the third attack on INEC Local Government office in less than three weeks following similar attacks on the commission’s offices in Ogun and Osun States.
On November 10, 2022, the offices of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Ogun and Osun States were burnt down by yet-to-be-identified hoodlums. This led to the loss of materials needed for next year’s elections. In the Ogun State arson, 904 election boxes and 65,699 uncollected Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs), 29 voting cubicles, 30 megaphones and 57 election bags, three electric power generators were burnt.
These attacks became a phenomenon in the last three years. For example, in 2019, hoodlums attacked INEC offices in Rivers, Abia, Plateau, Anambra, Osun, Akwa Ibom and Jigawa states. In 2020, there were four of such attacks in Anambra, Imo, Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and Ondo.
In 2021, the attacks were carried out on INEC facilities in Akwa Ibom, Abia and twice in Enugu and Ebonyi states respectively.
This year alone, such attacks have been carried out with devastating effects in Zamfara and Enugu states. The last were the ones in Ogun and Osun, perpetuated on November 10, 2022.
And the cost of the attacks to INEC has been huge. For example, in the February 12, 2019 mysterious fire incident at the INEC headquarters, Awka, Anambra State, a two-container load of 4,695 smart card readers were destroyed along with other sensitive materials.
In the fire incident of May 2, 2021 at the Essien Udim Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State, some 345 ballot boxes, 135 voting cubicles, megaphones, water tanks and office furniture were razed.