By Chioma Onuegbu – Uyo
Miscreants have invaded and set ablaze the Area Office of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, in Essien Udim Local government area of Akwa Ibom state.
It was gathered that the incident which occurred early hours of Sunday, May, 2, 2021, also saw facilities at the DSS office located close to the INEC office destroyed.
The Resident Electoral Commissioner for Akwa Ibom State, Mr Mike Igini, who said he received the information Sunday morning, however, noted that he could not yet ascertain whether the perpetrators are still the same members of Eastern Security Network (ESN) that have been allegedly attacking police facilities and killing the officers in the local government area.
“In any case, our office is very close to the DSS office. The DSS office was also attacked but it was not burnt down. So We don’t really know the main target. Investigation is still going on”, Igini said.
When contacted the Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Odiko Macdon who confirmed the incident simply responded, “Indeed we have received the report and we are working on it. This time shall pass”
Meanwhile, in a statement made available to Vanguard in Uyo, and signed by the National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, described the attack as extensive and worrisome.
ALSO READ: Over 12 unknown gunmen arrested in Imo
The statement reads, “The Resident Electoral Commissioner for Akwa Ibom State, Barr. Mike Igini has reported that our office in Essien Udim Local government area has been set ablaze. Our security guard on duty escaped unhurt, but the destruction to the building and properties therein was extensive.
“Items delivered include 345 ballot boxes, 135 voting cubicles, megaphones, water tanks, and office furniture. The police which have also been battling with attacks on its facilities and personnel in the area are aware of the incident and have commenced investigation.
“The recent attack on our facility after we have just concluded the inventory of electoral materials nationwide in readiness for the 2023 General Election is worrisome.
“If unchecked, these attacks may constitute a setback on the Commission’s preparations, including the ongoing conversation of Voting points to polling units, the Forthcoming Continuous Registration of Voters (CVR) exercise, and the conduct of polls.
“Nevertheless, the Commission wishes to assure Nigerians that we will leave no stone unturned to recover from the incident in Akwa Ibom State as we continue to prepare for all electoral activities”
It could be recalled that gunmen suspected to be members of ESN had on May 1, 2021, also attacked a police station at Ibiaku Ntok Okpo in Ikono Local Government area, killing two policemen, and set ablaze five patrol vehicles.
Similarly, on April 27, 2021, the hoodlums had attacked a police checkpoint at Ika Local Government area and killed two policemen including a woman Police Corporal.