INEC expresses worry as arsonists attack Enugu office

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has described the Sunday night attack on its Igboeze North Local Government Area office in Enugu State as worrisome.

INEC in a statement by its National Commissioner, Information and Voter Education Committee, Mr. Festus Okoye, in Abuja, yesterday, said although no casualties were reported, 748 ballot boxes, 240 voting cubicles and equipment were destroyed.

He said the Resident Electoral Commissioner for Enugu state, Mr. Emeka Ononamadu, reported that the office was set ablaze by unknown arsonists at 11.48pm.

“The arsonists overpowered the security guards, forced their way into the premises and set the building ablaze.

“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.”

Okoye said the commission was working to ascertain the status of voter registration machines for the ongoing Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) as well as uncollected Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) locked up in the fireproof cabinet.

The national commissioner said  the incident was 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 the 2023 general elections is worrisome,” he said.

Okoye recalled that on May 23, 2021, INEC office in the neighbouring Igboeze South Local Government Area was attacked in a similar manner by gunmen.

This followed earlier attacks on Udenu Local Government Area office on May 13, 2021 and the State Headquarters in Enugu on May 16, 2021.

He said that INEC had since substantially recovered from these attacks and resumed normal activities there, including the CVR and collection of PVCs.

He said the commission would continue to work with the security agencies and the emergency services to protect its  facilities.

Meanwhile, Commissioner of Police in Enugu State, Lawal Abubakar, has ordered an investigation to unravel the cause of the fire outbreak.

A statement by the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Daniel Ndukwe, said the fire might have started from the back of the building.

He said the fire was put out by police operatives that mobilised to the scene on receipt of the information, with assistance from personnel of Enugu State Fire Service, thereby averting further damages within the vicinity.

“Consequently, the CP has assured that the command will do all it can to unravel the cause of the incident and take necessary action. The commissioner also enjoined residents of the area to support the police with credible information and intelligence in the ongoing investigation.”

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