Major Setback for 2023 Polls as Hoodlums Raze INEC Office in Prominent State
- An INEC office in the Igbo-Eze North local government area of Enugu was burnt down by criminals on Sunday, July 3
- It was gathered that the fire service operatives in Enugu could not stop the flames over fear that the arsonists might unleash another attack
- No doubt, this recent attack will mean a setback for the electoral commission whose preparations for the 2023 polls are on top-gear
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Igbo-Eze North LGA, Enugu - Some yet-to-be-identified arsonists have burnt down an office belonging to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the Igbo-Eze North local government area of Enugu.
The Nation reports that the affected located at the council’s headquarters in Ogurute was totally destroyed on the night of Sunday, July 3.
According to the newspaper, the state's fire service around the area could not move in to quench the flames as operatives were scared that the assailants might attack again.
Thus, as gathered from eyewitnesses, by the time security officers arrived at the scene, the building was completely destroyed by the inferno.
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The sources added that the only thing the two fire trucks from Nsukka and Ogurute were able to do was to prevent the fire from spreading to nearby offices.
No casualties, documents and properties destroyed
Counting the commission's losses after the fire outbreak, Emeka Ononamadu, the resident electoral commissioner for Enugu, said:
“Although no casualties were reported, 748 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.
“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 2023 general election, is worrisome. It will be recalled that on 23rd May 2021, our office in the neighbouring Igboeze South Local Government Area was attacked in a similar manner by unknown gunmen. This followed earlier attacks on Udenu Local Government Area office on 13th May 2021 and the State Headquarters in Enugu on 16th May 2021. The Commission has since substantially recovered from these attacks and resumed normal activities there, including the CVR and collection of PVCs.
“The Commission will continue to work with the security agencies and the emergency services to protect our facilities.”
INEC makes new arrangements for PVC registration in 7 states following citizens' surge to register
Meanwhile, INEC on Friday, June 10, announced that it has deployed more voter enrolment machines to ease the congestion at the registration centres in the five southeastern states, Lagos and Kano state.
A statement by the commission which was seen by Legit.ng said that the electoral body identified the need to deploy additional enrolment machines in these states as a priority.
Signed by Festus Okoye, the chairman of information and voter education committee for INEC, the statement said that the commission had received reports from these states indicating an unprecedented surge in the number of citizens who wish to register as voters and the challenges they face across the country.
The electoral commission said that in some states, the sudden turnout of prospective registrants was overwhelming.