By Omeiza Ajayi, ABUJA
The Independent National Electoral Commission INEC has decried Sunday’s attack on its office in Essien Udim Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom state, saying if the trend is left unchecked, it could derail its preparations ahead of the 2023 general elections.
INEC in a statement on Sunday said its Resident Electoral Commissioner REC for Akwa Ibom State, Barr. Mike Igini, had reported that its office in Essien Udim Local Government Area had been set ablaze.
“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 conversion of Voting Points to Polling Units, the forthcoming Continuous Registration of Voters (CVR) exercise and the conduct of polls”, the Commission said.
National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee of INEC, Barr. Festus Okoye in a statement said the incident occurred in the early hours of Sunday 2nd May 2021.
“Our security guard on duty escaped unhurt but the destruction to the building and properties therein was extensive. Items destroyed include 345 ballot boxes, 135 voting cubicles, megaphones, water tanks and office furniture”, Okoye stated.
According to him, the police, which has also been battling with attacks on its facilities and personnel in the area, is aware of the incident and has commenced an investigation.
Vanguard recalls that on the eve of the 2019 General Election, INEC’s newly constructed prototype local government office in Ibesikpo Asutan was burnt down while two more offices in Mkpat Enin and Eastern Obolo LGAs were bombed.
“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”, Okoye added.