The National Commissioner, Information and Voter Education Committee of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Festus Okoye, has confirmed that hoodlums burnt down its office at Igboeze North Local Government Area of Enugu State.
Confirming the incident in a statement on Monday, signed by Festus Okoye, INEC said the arsonists overpowered the security guards, forced their way into the premises, and set the building ablaze.
He said although no casualties were reported, 748 ballot boxes, 240 voting cubicles, office furniture, and equipment were destroyed in spite of the effort of the Enugu State Fire Service deployed from Nsukka.
As of the time of the press release, INEC stated that it is yet to ascertain the status of voter registration machines as well as uncollected Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) locked up in the fireproof cabinet in the burnt office.
The statement titled, ‘Attack on INEC office in Enugu State’, partly read, “The Resident Electoral Commissioner for Enugu State, Emeka Onanamadu, reported that our Igboeze North Local Government Area office was set ablaze by unknown arsonists. The attack happened at 11:48pm on Sunday 3rd July 2022.
“The arsonists overpowered the security guards, forced their way into the premises and set the building ablaze. Although no casualties were reported, 48 ballot boxes, 240 voting cubicles, office furniture and equipment were destroyed in spite of the best effort of the Enugu State Fire Service deployed from Nsukka.”
“The Commission is working to ascertain the status of voter registration machines for the ongoing Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise as well as uncollected Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) locked up in the fireproof cabinet.”
While the commission said it had reported the attack to the Nigeria Police Force, it lamented the timing of the attack which was coming “in the middle of the voter registration exercise.”
”The incident has been reported to the Nigeria Police for investigation and further action.
”The attack, coming in the middle of the voter registration exercise and other preparations for the 2023 General Election, is worrisome.
The statement noted that similar attacks had been carried out on its offices in the Igboeze South and Udeni Local Government Areas as well as the Enugu State Headquarters of the commission all in May 2021.
However, it stated that the Commission has since substantially recovered from these attacks and resumed normal activities there, including the VR and collection of PVCs.
”The Commission will continue to work with the security agencies and the emergency services to protect our facilities,” the statement added.