Friday, 11 November 2022

INEC Records 47 Arson Incidents In 33 Months , Holds Emergency Meeting Today


 

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) will hold an emergency security meeting in Abuja today over attacks on its facilities. 

It convened the meeting following the latest attacks on its offices in Ogun and Osun States yesterday.

With yesterday’s attacks, the INEC has suffered 47 attacks on its facilities and offices since February 2019. A source at the commission said  that the attacks are deliberate attempts to stop them from carrying out their duties.

Another source not from INEC but works with knowledge of the commission’s works, said the Yoruba Nation agitators are being fingered. 

“They recently attacked a military facility in Ogun State and carted away with some weapons.

“Security forces have not yet commented on this allegation but sources said they are not ruling out any possibilities,” the source said.

Hoodlums Thursday set an office of INEC at Iyana Mortuary, Abeokuta, Ogun State, on fire leaving a total of 65,699 Permanent Voter’s Cards (PVCs) destroyed.

Sources said the hoodlums, numbering about eight, scaled the fence to gain entry into the premises of the electoral body.

A security guard at the facility, Azeez Hamzat, was said to have made a distress call to the police around 1 am on Thursday. Our correspondent gathered that the store, registration area and conference room were affected by the fire.

In Osun, suspected hoodlums yesterday set on fire the INEC office in Ede South LGA of the state.

The hoodlums, it was gathered left immediately after setting the office located at Oke Iresi in Ede ablaze. It was gathered that residents trooped out and put the fire out after the arsonist left the premises.

Head of the Department of Public Education of the commission, Ayoola Balogun while confirming the incident told Daily Trust that the fire did not affect important documents.

The Police Public Relations Officer for Osun State Police Command, Yemisi Opalola also confirmed the incident and assured that it would be investigated.

Emergency security meeting

National Commissioner and Chairman Information and Voter Education Committee (IVEC), Festus Okoye, said the emergency meeting was triggered by the attacks on the commission’s local government offices in Ogun and Osun states on Thursday.

The meeting, which will be attended by heads of security agencies, who are members of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) including the National Security Adviser (NSA), will discuss the trend and fashion out ways of curbing the development ahead of the 2023 elections.

Okoye said in Ogun, “The main building and all the Commission’s movable assets in the office were destroyed. They include 904 ballot boxes, 29 voting cubicles, 30 megaphones, 57 election bags, 8 electric power generators and 65,699 uncollected Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs).

“Similarly, the Resident Electoral Commissioner for Osun State, Dr. Mutiu Agboke, reported that our office in Ede South Local Government Area was attacked and set ablaze.”

He added that the attention of the Nigeria Police Force and other security and safety agencies has been drawn to the incidents. He said the security agencies have commenced investigations.

“With just 106 days to the 2023 General Election, when the commission has commenced the movement of materials to our offices nationwide, these simultaneous attacks are very worrisome indeed, “he said.

He also said that the rising incidents of attacks on supporters of various political parties since the commencement of the campaign barely two months ago and the use of hate and incendiary language by some politicians are extremely disturbing.

IGP probes attack on Atiku’s convoy in Borno

Meanwhile, the Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba, has disclosed the plan to constitute a team to thoroughly investigate the circumstances leading to the attacks on the convoy of the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, by suspected thugs in Maiduguri, Borno State on Wednesday.

He spoke on Thursday while featuring at the State House Media Briefing organised by the Presidential Communications Team at the Presidential Villa, Abuja. Baba, who reacted to questions on the recent attacks on campaign rallies and political events in Rivers, Kaduna and Borno States, said the state police spokesperson in Borno might have reached a conclusion too quickly in his assessment.

He explained that assessment from the state PRO might have been too hasty and not conclusive, hence the need to establish a team to make a holistic assessment from the various narratives to ascertain the true picture and prevent a reoccurrence. The convoy of Atiku was reportedly attacked on Wednesday in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.

The IGP urged politicians to play by the rules ahead of the elections and avoid violent clashes during electioneering.

“On how realistic it is in stopping the issue of violence in our political agenda, either in rallies or campaigns. Well, it takes two to tango. There are laid down means, ways procedures to do rallies and campaigns.

“On our part, we have gone out to appeal to politicians to play the game by the rules. And at the same time allow us to regulate political processions, campaigns and rallies, to avoid clashes and so forth.”

He said the force was fully prepared to ensure peaceful general elections and carry out its responsibilities in line with the provisions of the laws.


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