Fire guts another INEC office in Imo

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has confirmed that its office in Oru West Local Government Area of Imo State has been set ablaze by arsonists.

A statement issued on Sunday by INEC’s National Commissioner and Chairman Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, noted that the Resident Electoral Commissioner in Imo State, Sylvia Uchenna Agu, reported that the commission’s office in Oru West Local Government Area was attacked at about 4am.

According to him, “The attack affected the Conference Room where office furniture and fittings were destroyed. However, other critical facilities were not affected”.

Okoye also recalled that on Thursday, December 1, INEC office in Orlu Local Government Area of the state was also attacked.

He revealed “Overall, this is the 7th attack on our facilities in five states of the federation in the last four months.”

“Once again, the commission expresses its concern on the consequences of what appears to be a systematic attack on its facilities across the country on the conduct of elections and electoral activities in general.”

Okoye stated that security agencies have been alerted on the latest incident for investigation and prosecution.

Meanwhile, concerns have risen over renewed attacks on INEC facilities in the South East region which have been blamed on suspected militants of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).

Reacting to the attacks, INEC chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, called for the immediate arrest and prosecution of those involved.

Yakubu made the call at an emergency meeting of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) in Abuja following series of attacks on their facilities.

Also speaking in Lagos State at the opening of a two-day induction retreat for the commission’s resident electoral commissioners, Yakubu counted the losses recorded by the commission due to the recent attacks.

While stressing that only a timely arrest and prosecution of perpetrators would end the trend, the INEC boss lamented that in the last four months, five local government offices of the commission have been attacked by unknown persons, adding that critical facilities and assets were lost; hence the need to curb the trend urgently.

According to him, “These facilities include a total of 1,992 ballot boxes, 399 voting cubicles and 22 electric power generators, as well as thousands of uncollected permanent voters’ cards, among many other items.”

He added “These attacks must stop and the perpetrators apprehended and prosecuted. Our responsibility is to conduct elections. The best solution for us is the arrest and prosecution of perpetrators”.