Insecurity: INEC counts loses, meets security Chiefs

The Independ National Electoral Commission (INEC),  hás contined to count it’s loses over the recent target of its facilities by arsonists in the South East. 

INEC offices have been on target as hoodlums have set its facilities of  fire,  with heavy loses in Anambra, Imo and Enugu states   INEC Chairman,  Prof Mahmoud Yakubu stated while addressing heads of various security agencies and other members of the Inter Agency Consultation Committee on Election Security (ICCES), at meeting on Monday in Abuja, the concerns of the Commission’s,  over the recent attack on its offices.

Professor Yakubu who noted that the Commission is still assessing it’s losses of materials during recent attacks, added that preliminary assessment so far indicate that the commission  lost 1,105 ballot boxes, 694 voting cubicles, 429 electric generating sets and 13 utility vehicles (Toyota Hilux). 

He emphasised that  working together with the security agencies can stop the attacks and the wanton destruction of critical electoral assets. “These attacks, which initially appeared as isolated and occasional actions, have now become more frequent and systematic targeted at demobilising and dismantling critical electoral infrastructure in the country. This will not only undermine the Commission’s capacity to organise elections and other electoral activities but will also damage the nation’s electoral process and democracy. Indeed, these attacks on the Commission’s facilities should now be treated as a national security emergency. 

“No doubt, the last few weeks have been very challenging to the Commission. The spate of arson and vandalisation targeting the Commission’s facilities and property has become a major threat to our scheduled activities and the entire electoral process. In the last two years, the Commission has recorded a total of 41 incidents involving deliberate attacks on the Commission’s facilities. Nine of these incidents happened in 2019 and 21 cases in 2020. In the last four weeks, 11 offices of the Commission were either set ablaze or vandalised.

Two of these incidents were caused by Boko Haram and Bandit attacks while 10 resulted from thuggery during election and post-election violence. However, the majority of the attacks (29 out of 41) were unrelated to election or electoral activities. In fact, 18 of them occurred during the EndSARS protests in October last year while 11 attacks were organised by “unknown gunmen” and “hoodlums.

“As a Commission, we have been undertaking our own internal review of the situation and seeking answers. On Wednesday last week, the Commission met with the Resident Electoral Commissioners (REC) and received briefings about these rising threats.

We are presently compiling the useful suggestions from the meeting and other internal review, which we hope to share with this body in due course. I understand that the security agencies are doing their own individual assessments. Beyond Election Day security, we look forward to creating a framework for an all-year round, end-to-end protection of electoral facilities under the auspices of ICCES.” 

The chairman also disclosed that the commission will in the next nine months, conduct  two major elections beginning witb the Anambra State Governorship election,  which  is scheduled to hold on 6th November 2021, to be followed by the end-of-tenure elections for 68 Area Council constituencies in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) holding on 12th February 2022. 

“These major elections will be followed by the Ekiti and Osun State Governorship elections ahead of the 2023 General Election which is just 632 days away. In addition to elections, the Commission is also preparing for the resumption of the nationwide Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise on 28th June 2021 to enable Nigerians who have attained the age 18 years and those who did not register previously to do so. Similarly, registered voters who wish to change their voting locations and those who wish to correct their names and other details on their Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) can do so. We plan to create 2,673 registration centres and deploy 5,346 officials for the exercise along with expensive voter enrollment machines.

All these activities require security, thereby adding to the urgency and importance of this meeting.. Yakubu disclosed  The INEC boss noted further that ” Under the auspices of ICCES, we should ramp up our activities to curtail these unjustifiable acts of aggression.

This will entail not only drawing on our separate and collective resources within ICCES, but also increased collaboration with citizens, communities and all stakeholders.” 

He also expressed the Commission’s appreciation of the support of some communities who he noted  have donated land to locate many of the Commission’s facilities, provided voluntary assistance during electoral activities like registration of voters and even donated materials such as chairs and shelter during elections. 

Professor Yakubu therefore urged the members of ICCES to use the opportunities of the meeting to constitute a first step to finding a lasting solution to the current challenges. To disrupt the electoral process is to undermine our democracy and destabilise the country. Present at the meeting incuded the Acting Inspector General of Police, Alkali Baba Usman, Chief of Defence Staff, Lieutenant General Lucky Irabor, other Service Chiefs, the Commandant-General of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), the Controller-General of the Federal Fire Service (FFS) and the Controller-General of the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS) the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abdulrasheed Bawa, who were attending the meeting for the first time since their appointments.

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