The State headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Enugu has been set ablaze.
This is the fourth fire incident involving INEC state headquarters and local government offices in three states of the federation in less than two weeks.
First, there was the destruction of the office in Essien Udim of Akwa Ibom State on 2 May, 2021.
This was followed by the fire at the Ohafia local government area office in Abia State on 9 May, 2021; local government area office in Enugu State on May 13, 2021 and the State headquarters in Enugu on 6 May, 2021.
A statement by the national commissioner and chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Barr Festus Okoye, made available to LEADERSHIP yesterday in Abuja noted that the spate of attacks on the Commission’s facilities portends danger to national electoral activities in the country.
Okoye said the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for Enugu State, Emeka Ononamadu, reported the attack on the State headquarters office of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Enugu on Sunday 16th May 2021.
He said some unidentified persons overpowered the security personnel on duty around 9.00 pm and tried to set the entire building ablaze.
The statement reads in part: ‘’The attention of the security agencies, as well as the Federal and State Fire Services in Enugu, was drawn to the unfolding situation and they responded swiftly.
‘’The attackers set the foyer ablaze, vandalised some offices in the main building and caused extensive damage to some of the Commission’s movable assets within the premises.
“Six utility pick up vehicles (Toyota Hilux) were burnt down while two (2) more were smashed and damaged.”
The security agencies who were at the scene have commenced an investigation.
‘’As we categorically mentioned in our earlier statements, the spate of attacks on the Commission’s facilities portends danger to national electoral activities.’’
Okoye said the commission is holding an emergency meeting with the Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) on Wednesday 19th May, 2021.
He added that further statements will be released ahead of another emergency meeting with heads of all the security agencies in the country under the auspices of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES).
The Commissioner of Police in the state, Mr Mohammed Aliyu, confirmed the incident in a telephone interview.
Reacting to the burning of INEC offices, the Center for Transparency Advocacy (CTA) has called on security agents, National Orientation Agency (NOA) and civil society organisations to halt the rising trend.
The executive secretary, CTA, Faith Nwadishi, said while NOA and civil society organisations in the country should educate the public on the dangers of burning the nation’s critical asset, the security agencies should rise to the menace.
Nwadishi said the trends will definitely affect the conduct of 2023 elections in the country.
She said the citizens and political class should also take responsibility.
According to her, “The burning of INEC offices across the country shows that a lot of Nigerians don’t know the role of INEC.
‘’The NOA, civil society should wake up to their responsibility and enlighten the citizens on the need to end the hostility.
“Citizens opt to be protecting the nation’s critical infrastructure and properties.
“Although there are heightened security concerns in the country it was further highlighted by the burning of INEC offices across the country.
‘’This act will definitely affect the conduct of 2023 elections in the country. Stakeholders should start a civic education so that people will understand the democracy value chain.”
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