The Independent National Electoral Commission will this week meet heads of security agencies as part of moves to end attacks on its offices in some parts of the country.
A top official of INEC disclosed this to our correspondent just as the number of the commission’s offices burnt by hoodlums rose to 21 on Sunday night with the attack on the Enugu State headquarters of the electoral body.
A breakdown of the incidents showed that the most affected states include Akwa Ibom (four), Abia (three) Anambra (two) and Imo (two).
Other states that witnessed fire incidents between February 2019 and May 2021 are Borno, Ebonyi, Jigawa, Kano, Ondo, Plateau and Rivers. Abuja was also affected.
The INEC office in the Obollo-Afor, Udenu Local Government Area of Enugu State was razed by a midnight fire last Thursday while on Sunday, the headquarters of INEC in the same state was gutted by fire. This brings the total number of offices gutted by fire in the last two years to 21.
On Monday, the commission the top official of the commission, who confided in The PUNCH, said, “After our meeting on Wednesday, we will meet security chiefs to end this ugly development which may affect future elections.”
Also on Monday, the Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, Mr Rotimi Oyekanmi, warned that the commission’s capacity to prepare properly for future elections could be affected if the attacks on its facilities as being witnessed lately in parts of the country continued.
One of our correspondents had asked Oyekanmi how the recent attacks on INEC offices could affect future elections in the affected areas.
He said, “The commission will not be deterred by the unprovoked spate of attacks from carrying out the required electoral activities in the region and the entire country.
“However, these deliberate and misplaced attacks on the commission’s facilities cannot and should not continue.
“If they continue unabated, preparations for electoral activities may be affected.”
Oyekanmi also confirmed that the commission would meet security agencies to end attacks on its facilities.
He stated, “The commission will meet with the resident electoral commissioners in Abuja on Wednesday, May 19, to be followed by another meeting with the security agencies under the auspices of the inter-agency consultative committee on election security.
“These emergency meetings are being convened to discuss the spate of attacks and come up with the appropriate measures to be taken with immediate effect.”
When asked how much has been lost to the attacks, Oyekanmi said although it was difficult to come up with exact cost at the moment, it would cost the country a lot of money to replace the assets that were destroyed.
He described the damage done by the arsonists as “extensive.”