By Lateef Ibrahim, Abuja
The Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Prof Mahmood Yakubu yesterday lamented that a total of forty-one (41) facilities of the Commission have been deliberately attacked in the two years.
Consequently, Yakubu has pleaded that these attacks on the Commission’s facilities should be treated as a national security emergency.
The INEC Chairman said these in his remarks at an emergency meeting with the security agencies under the auspices of the Inter Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security, ICCES, in Abuja.
Explaining that nine of these attacks on INEC facilities happened in 2019 and 21 cases in 2020, the Chairman pointedly said that the spate of arson and vandalisation targeting the Commission’s facilities and property has become a major threat to its scheduled activities and the entire electoral process.
The INEC Chairman stressed further that in the last four weeks, eleven offices of the Commission were either set ablaze or vandalised, adding that two of these incidents were caused by Boko Haram and Bandit attacks while 10 resulted from thuggery during election and post-election violence.
His words, “No doubt, the last few weeks have been very challenging to the Commission.
“The spate of arson and vandalisation targeting the Commission’s facilities and property has become a major threat to our scheduled activities and the entire electoral process.
“In the last two years, the Commission has recorded a total of 41 incidents involving deliberate attacks on the Commission’s facilities.
“Nine of these incidents happened in 2019 and 21 cases in 2020.
“In the last four weeks, 11 offices of the Commission were either set ablaze or vandalised.
“Two of these incidents were caused by Boko Haram and Bandit attacks while 10 resulted from thuggery during election and post-election violence.
“However, the majority of the attacks (29 out of 41) were unrelated to election or electoral activities.
“In fact, 18 of them occurred during the EndSARS protests in October last year while 11 attacks were organised by “unknown gunmen” and “hoodlums”.
“Although the Commission is assessing loss of materials during recent attacks, our preliminary assessment so far indicate that we lost 1,105 ballot boxes, 694 voting cubicles, 429 electric generating sets and 13 utility vehicles (Toyota Hilux).
“By working together with the security agencies, we can stop these attacks and the wanton destruction of critical electoral assets.
“These attacks, which initially appeared as isolated and occasional actions, have now become more frequent and systematic targeted at demobilising and dismantling critical electoral infrastructure in the country.
“This will not only undermine the Commission’s capacity to organise elections and other electoral activities but will also damage the nation’s electoral process and democracy.
“Indeed, these attacks on the Commission’s facilities should now be treated as a national security emergency”, he said.
Speaking at the meeting, the National Security Adviser, NSA, Major-General Babagana Monguno, rtd, harped on the need for those in attendance to look at means and ways of quickly, stopping the rising spate of criminality, violence and destruction bedeviling the national effort.
Mungono explained that the office of the National Security Adviser has always remained steadfast resolute and unrelenting in supporting all the activities of INEC as well as all agents of government, who are compelled, not only by statutory means to deal with anything that will disrupt the democratic journey which started in 1999.
According to him, “We are at hand to make sure that the people’s will would be sustained, regardless of whatever happened, regardless of any individual inclinations without cause hampered by a lot of non-state actors who are determined to dislodge this effort.
“I am hopeful that the outcome of this meeting will be very productive.
We should be able to make some strides towards extinguishing whatever please our electoral and socio political landscape”, he said.