We may not recover in good time for elections if attacks on our offices continue -INEC

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says the conduct of the 2023 elections may be affected if the attacks on its offices continue.

 

Mahmood Yakubu, INEC chairman, spoke on Friday when he appeared before the house of representatives ad hoc committee investigating attacks on the facilities of the commission.

 

The INEC chairman said the commission has made efforts to replace election materials destroyed in its offices, but said if such attacks continue, it may affect the elections.

 

“The attacks have far-reaching implications on preparation for the general election. Firstly, the facilities that are destroyed, especially offices, would take time to rebuild,” he said.

 

 “They are not like items of procurement that you can procure off the shelf. So, an alternative arrangement has to be made. So, in some of the states, in addition to these malicious attacks, and other matters that have arisen as a result of fire and flooding, we would have to make alternative arrangements by renting.

 

“In some places, we can find facilities to rent. In some of the remote areas, we may not find facilities to rent. So, we have to look for alternatives for the damaged facilities.

 

“Secondly, several materials lost would have to be replaced. In the recent attacks, some of the PVCs, for instance, were lost. But for the PVCs, we have instructed our state offices to send the voter identification numbers of the PVCs lost so we can reprint them. We can, from our database, quickly regenerate and reprint the cards so that citizens are not disenfranchised. 

 

 “The commission and security agencies must also continue to provide safety around the facilities, and as I said earlier, it may be very challenging, because the security agencies are also protecting all of us and other national assets.

 

“Now, we have to rebuild the facilities and our funds are overstretched by a number of factors. We cannot continue to replace and rebuild. And what is even more worrisome for us is the attack in Izzi LGA of Ebonyi state.

 

“The building was first attacked on 18th May, 2021. We included the resources in our election project plan budget to rebuild the office, and we did so. We rebuilt the office and our staff moved in on Friday. That weekend, on Sunday, the office was burnt down again and there are five such offices nationwide where, in spite of our best efforts, the facility was attacked not only once, but twice. We have five offices and even after rebuilding or trying to rebuild, the offices were attacked again.

 

“We are determined that we would continue with our preparations for the 2023 general election. So, all the facilities would be rebuilt or alternatives found and materials would be replaced.

 

 “However, should such attacks continue at the pace at which they are happening at the moment, the commission may find it increasingly difficult to recover in good time for the election.

 

“If it is about stopping the attacks, yes we can recover. But if the attacks continue, it would be very difficult for the commission to recover.”

 

The INEC boss added that “concerted efforts” must be made to stop the attacks on INEC offices, adding that he hopes that the committee’s hearing will also provide a solution.

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