Against the backdrop of Thursday’s twin attacks on the offices of the Independent National Electoral Commission in Ogun and Osun states, the commission has scheduled a meeting with the National Security Adviser, Maj. Gen. Babagana Monguno (retd.), the service chiefs and the heads of all relevant paramilitary agencies for Friday (today).
The arson at the commission’s offices in Abeokuta, Ogun State and Ede, Osun State on Thursday has further aroused anxiety about the forthcoming poll.
Worried by the development, the INEC has convened an emergency meeting of security chiefs under the auspices of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security to discuss the rising insecurity and attacks on its offices, election materials and party supporters and the strategies to contain it.
Expected at the ICCES meeting which will be held on Friday (today), is the National Security Adviser, Maj. Gen. Babagana Monguno (retd.), who chairs the committee, the INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, who is co-chair and the heads of the armed forces and paramilitary agencies
Yakubu had in April expressed concern about the challenges INEC is facing as it prepares for the 2023 elections.
The commission also said it lost several facilities to attacks last year with the preliminary assessment indicating that 11 offices, 1,105 ballot boxes, 694 voting cubicles, 429 electric generating sets and 13 utility vehicles – Toyota Hilux pick-up vans – had been lost.
Announcing today’s security meeting, the National Commissioner and Chairman Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, in a statement on Thursday, expressed worry over the simultaneous attacks on its offices in Ogun and Osun states as it has commenced the movement of election materials to its offices nationwide.
The office in Ogun State was set ablaze with 904 ballot boxes, 29 voting cubicles, 30 megaphones, 57 election bags, 8 electric power generators and 65,699 uncollected Permanent Voter Cards destroyed.
The attack on the Osun office affected a part of the building and destroyed items of furniture.
The statement read, “This morning (Thursday), the Commission received two disturbing reports of attacks on our Local Government offices in Ogun and Osun states.
“The Resident Electoral Commissioner for Ogun State, Niyi Ijalaiye, reported that our office in Abeokuta South Local Government Area was attacked and set ablaze.
“The incident occurred around 1.15am when some unidentified persons overpowered the security personnel on duty and set the entire building ablaze.
“The main building and all the Commission’s movable assets in the office were destroyed. They include 904 ballot boxes, 29 voting cubicles, 30 megaphones, 57 election bags, eight electric power generators and 65,699 uncollected Permanent Voters Cards.
“Similarly, the Resident Electoral Commissioner for Osun State, Mutiu Agboke, reported that our office in Ede South Local Government Area was attacked and set ablaze.
“The incident occurred in the early hours of this morning when some unidentified persons attacked the building and set a portion of it ablaze. Fortunately, the damage to our Ede South Local Government was limited to a section of the building and only some furniture items were destroyed.’’
The electoral body disclosed that the attacks had been reported to the police which had commenced investigations into the incidents.
“With just 106 days to the 2023 general election when the Commission has commenced the movement of materials to our offices nationwide, these simultaneous attacks are very worrisome indeed.
“Similarly, the rising incidents of attacks on supporters of various political parties since the commencement of campaign barely two months ago and the use of hate and incendiary language by some politicians are extremely disturbing.
“Accordingly, the Commission has convened an emergency meeting with the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security Friday (today) 11th November 2023 to discuss the disturbing trend,’’ INEC said.