In an interview published by Daily Sun on Saturday, April 17, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, the minority leader of the Senate, warned that the 2023 general elections may not hold if the current security crisis in the country is not effectively tackled.
While many may dismiss his warning as merely partisan, there is a disturbing development in the country which points to the fact that the fate of the 2023 elections hangs in the balance if something drastic is not promptly done.
In the last 24 months, there have been what appear to be targeted attacks on the offices of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in different parts of the country.
Even INEC has expressed anxiety about the impacts of such attacks on the nation's electoral activities, according to a statement by INEC's spokesman, Festus Okoye.
Legit.ng in this piece highlights the INEC offices that have been torched in the past two years.
1. Abia state
a. INEC LGA Office in Aba South, Abia state
The LGA office of the INEC in Aba South, Abia state, was on Sunday, December 13, burnt down completely.
b. Arochukwu LGA Office
In October 2020, some hoodlums also vandalised and ransacked the INEC office in Arochukwu LGA, Abia state.
c. INEC Office in Ohafia LGA
On Sunday night, May 9, 2021, the recently renovated INEC office in Ohafia local government area was set ablaze.
According to INEC, the building was virtually destroyed. Apart from furniture items, all electoral materials and office equipment were destroyed, Legit.ng gathers.
2. Akwa Ibom state
INEC Office in Essien Udim
The INEC office in Essien Udim local government was on Sunday, May 2, set ablaze by unknown assailants.
The state Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) Barr. Mike Igini confirmed the incident.
A section of INEC's complex in Abuja was also recently gutted by fire.
The director of publicity and voter education of the INEC, Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi, confirmed the incident on Friday, April 17, 2020.
He said the fire affected the office of the director of the election and party monitoring in the building.
4. Ondo state
On Thursday, September 10, 2020, about four weeks before the Ondo state governorship election, about 5,141 card readers were destroyed in a fire at the state head office of the commission in Akure, Ondo state.
5. Kano state
Similarly, INEC announced on Monday, April 20, 2021, that its data processing centre in Kano state was gutted by fire.
6. Imo state
7. Anambra state
Also, in February 2020, the INEC office in Idemili North local government area of Anambra state was gutted by fire.
8. Rivers state
In 2019, suspected political thugs set ablaze the INEC office in Ngor Okpuala local government area of Imo state.
The suspected hoodlums broke into the INEC office when the collation of results for the governorship and state assembly elections was ongoing around 2pm on Sunday, March 10, 2019, before setting the office on fire.
9. Plateau state
Shortly before the 2019 election, the INEC office in Qua’an Pan local government area of Plateau state was engulfed in fire.
The fire was said to have been caused by a drunken security man.
10. Ebonyi state
In 2019, thugs attacked INEC staff in Ezza north local government area of Ebonyi state carted away sensitive election materials.
The thugs stormed the INEC's Registration Area Centre (RAC) at Okposi Umuoghara Community Secondary School at about 2.15am on March 9, beating the staff and stealing the election materials.
They subsequently burned down the primary school building which served as INEC's RAC when they were done with the attack.
Meanwhile, INEC has warned that its preparations for the 2023 general election may suffer a huge setback.
The electoral commission gave the warning in response to the fire incidents in its offices.
The national electoral body in a statement via Facebook on Sunday, May 2, stated that the recent attacks on its facilities, if unchecked, may affect future polls.