By Gift Olivia Samuel, The Sight News
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has disclosed that it has recorded a total of 41 incidents involving deliberate attacks on its facilities in the last two years.
The INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu who made this disclosure in a meeting with security agencies under the auspices of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) on Thursday, explained that nine of these incidents happened in 2019 and 21 cases in 2020.
He further stated that in the last four weeks, 11 offices of the Commission were either set ablaze or vandalised, two of these incidents he noted, were caused by Boko Haram and Bandit attacks while 10 resulted from thuggery during election and post-election violence.
The INEC Chairman said also that the majority of the attacks (29 out of 41) were unrelated to election or electoral activities, emphasizing that 18 of them occurred during the #EndSARS protests in October 2020 while 11 attacks were organised by “unknown gunmen” and “hoodlums”.
Furthermore, Prof. Yakubu said that although the Commission is assessing loss of materials during recent attacks, its preliminary assessment so far indicates that it lost 1,105 ballot boxes, 694 voting cubicles, 429 electric generating sets and 13 utility vehicles (Toyota Hilux).
He pointed out that by working together with the security agencies, INEC can stop these attacks and the wanton destruction of critical electoral assets.
In his words, “These attacks, which initially appeared as isolated and occasional actions, have now become more frequent and systematically 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”, he said.
He also noted 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.
“I must place on record the support to the Commission from communities we serve across the country. We should tap into this goodwill in finding solutions to the present situation.
“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”, he noted.
He expressed hopes that the meeting will constitute a first step to finding a lasting solution to the current challenges, adding that, to disrupt the electoral process is to undermine Nigeria’s democracy and destabilise the country.