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Attacks on INEC facilities threat to 2023 polls — Reps

The House of Representatives has condemned the “frequent, systemic and pre-meditated” attacks on Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) personnel, offices and other facilities in the…

The House of Representatives has condemned the “frequent, systemic and pre-meditated” attacks on Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) personnel, offices and other facilities in the country.

The green chamber said the attacks and arson were a threat to the successful conduct of the 2023 general elections if not properly checked.

Following a motion moved by Olarewaju Ibrahim Kunle at plenary yesterday, the lawmakers said the trend must not be allowed to jeopardise the conduct of the elections.

Kunle noted that the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) had reported at least 41 arson cases carried out on INEC facilities in 14 states between February, 2019, and May, 2021.

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He said, “On 10th of November, 2022, the INEC office in Abeokuta South Local Government Area of Ogun State was set ablaze by hoodlums with not less than 65,000 uncollected PVCs razed down.

“On the same day, arsonists and thugs set ablaze the INEC building at Oke Iresi, Ede South Local Government of Osun State.”

He noted that the colossal losses being recorded as a result of the attacks was running into billions of naira.

He said, “In 2019 a single PVC was estimated to cost about N170,000, which may cost more for the commission to produce.

“Alongside the main building, movable assets and facilities such as 904 ballot boxes, 29 voting cubicles, 30 megaphones, 57 election bags, eight electric power generators and 65,699 uncollected PVCs were reportedly destroyed by unidentified persons at the Abeokuta South Local Government office.

“If these systematically orchestrated attacks on personnel and facilities of the INEC are not checked, the actions are capable of disrupting the 2023 general elections.”

Kunle further said that the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria guaranteed democratic governance as the only acceptable and legitimate means of governance and that democracy was only sustained by free, fair and credible polls.

He added that, “Hence, an attack against elections is an attack against democratic governance, and perpetrators of such attacks are enemies of the country.

“Despite the affront to democracy and the constitution of the Nigerian state, the Nigeria police and other security agencies have been unable to arrest perpetrators of these heinous crimes.”

After contributions by members, the house passed the motion and condemned all forms of attacks on the facilities and buildings of the federal government, particularly attacks on INEC infrastructure.

The house urged the security agencies to synergise with the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice to identify, investigate, arrest and prosecute the perpetrators of the attacks.