An office of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has been set ablaze in in Orlu Local Government Area of Imo State.
The burning of the office in Imo, which comes days after an office of the Commission was torched in Ebonyi State, with electoral materials, including ballot boxes, destroyed, was confirmed by the INEC National Commissioner and Chairman Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye.
Although no casualties resulted from the Ebonyi attack, the main building and all the movable and immovable items inside it were destroyed including 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).
This was the third attack on the 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.
Giving further insights, Okoye said the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for Imo State, Professor Sylvia Uchenna Agu, has formally reported the attacks.
Okoye said in a statement that “the building, which is undergoing extensive renovation following an earlier attack, was vandalised and partially set ablaze. Three out of seven construction workers were abducted but later released.
“The damage would have been more extensive but for the quick response of the Nigeria Police which has deployed its personnel to the site,” Okoye said.
Lamenting that this latest attack is one attack too many, he said: “The Commission once again expresses its concern over the spate of attacks on its facilities and the negative consequences on our preparations for the 2023 General Election.”