A local office of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria’s South-south, was on Sunday set ablaze by hoodlums.
The incident, which occurred in Essien Udim Local Government Area of the state, looks like a targeted attack by people who are also responsible for the ongoing attacks on security agencies in the South-east and South-south regions.
INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, confirmed the attack in a statement on Sunday in Abuja.
Mr Okoye said the Resident Electoral Commissioner in Akwa Ibom State, Mike Igini, reported the incident to INEC headquarters, Abuja.
The security guard on duty in the INEC office escaped unhurt but the destruction to the building and properties was extensive, the commission said.
“Items destroyed 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,” Mr Okoye said.
He said if the attacks on INEC facilities continues, it may affect future polls.
The national commissioner recalled that on the eve of the 2019 general election, INEC newly constructed prototype local office in Ibesikpo Asutan Local Government Area, Akwa Ibom State, was burnt down, while two more offices in Mkpat Enin and Eastern Obolo local government areas, also in Akwa Ibom State, were bombed.
“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.
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“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 (CRV) and the conduct of polls,” he said.
He said that, nevertheless, the commission assured Nigerians that it would leave no stone unturned to recover from the incident in Akwa Ibom as it continued to prepare for all electoral activities.
Essien Udim, where the incident occurred, has recorded deadly attacks on the police and Nigerian Army recently.
The local government area, which shares a boundary with the neighbouring Abia State, has been notorious for cult-related violence and killings.
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