INEC : Attack on our Ede office minimal, that of Abeokuta extensive- Prof Yakubu

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The attempt to sabotage or weaken our resolve will not deter us from conducting transparent elections in which only the votes cast by Nigerians on Election Day will determine winners of elections,” he vowed.

*Photo: Prof Yakubu *

Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof Mahmood Yakubu has taken stock of the loses recorded by the agency in separate attacks on two of its Local Government Area offices in Abeokuta South in Ogun State and Ede South Local Government office in Osun State.

Speaking in Abuja on Friday at an emergency meeting of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES), Yakubu said “Two developments this week necessitated this meeting. First, the simultaneous attacks on our Local Government Area offices in Abeokuta South in Ogun State and Ede South Local Government office in Osun State. The attack in Abeokuta South happened around 1.15am while that of Ede happened around 6.00am yesterday Thursday 10th November 2022. Our immediate conclusion is that they may not be isolated, but we leave this determination to the security agencies who are investigating the incidents. Secondly, the spate of attacks during electioneering campaigns by political parties is increasing rather than decreasing.”

He noted that “While the damage in the attack in Ede South was minimal, that of Abeokuta South was extensive. Materials destroyed include 904 ballot boxes, 29 voting cubicles, 8 electric power generators, 57 election bags, 30 megaphones, 65,699 uncollected Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) and a host of other assorted items such as stamps and stamp pads.”

The INEC Chairman disclosed “The Commission is taking urgent steps to repair the damage to the building and replace the facilities in the Ede South Local Government Area so that the office becomes functional again immediately.”

He however said “For Abeokuta South Local Government Area office, the destruction was total. Consequently, the Commission is relocating our staff to the old State office (also known as INEC Office Annex) in Oke-Ilewo area of Abeokuta. All activities involving the 15 Registration Areas (Wards) and 445 Polling Units in Abeokuta South Local Government Area will henceforth be coordinated from the new location in Oke-Ilewo. Similarly, the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for Ogun State has been directed to compile the Voter Identification Numbers (VINs) of all the 65,699 Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) lost in the attack from our database and submit the record for immediate reprint. We want to assure affected registered voters in Abeokuta South that no one will be disenfranchised as a result of this dastardly act.”

Prof Yakubu said “Turning to the spate of physical attacks during the ongoing political campaigns and rallies, the Commission has so far tracked 50 incidents across 21 States of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory. These unhappy occurrences are coming just a little over one month into the election campaign which is scheduled to last for about five months from 28th September 2022 to 23rd February 2023 for national elections (Presidential and National Assembly) and from 12th October 2022 to 11th March 2023 for State elections (Governorship and Houses of Assembly). The Commission is worried that if no urgent and decisive steps are taken, the attacks will intensify as we approach the election date. As we all know, a peaceful campaign heralds a peaceful election. We need to take decisive steps to stem the ugly trend.”

He stressed that”As a body, the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) brings together security, safety and other agencies responsible for securing the process and ensuring peaceful elections in Nigeria. Understandably, Nigerians expect a decisive action from ICCES. It is important that we move swiftly to apprehend perpetrators, prosecute them as required by law and reinforce security around election officials and electoral infrastructure around the country.”

He recalled that “As we have stated on several occasions, election is a multi-stakeholder activity involving not just INEC and the security agencies. The political class plays perhaps the most critical role in ensuring peaceful elections. We must all rise to the occasion. Nigerians are watching us. The world is watching us. We must never disappoint them.”

Prof Yakubu reassured Nigerians that INEC  remained committed to delivering credible elections in spite of the challenges.

“The attempt to sabotage or weaken our resolve will not deter us from conducting transparent elections in which only the votes cast by Nigerians on Election Day will determine winners of elections,” he vowed.

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