Another INEC facility attacked in Imo – fourth in three weeks

Gunmen have attacked an office of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Isu Local Government Area of Imo State, Nigeria’s south-east.

The attack is the fourth on INEC offices in less than three weeks in the state.

It comes less than two weeks after gunmen attacked an INEC office in Owerri, the state capital.

Three gunmen and one police officer were killed in the Owerri attack.

About three weeks ago, gunmen had attacked another INEC office in Oru West Local Government Area.

Three days later, another INEC office was attacked by gunmen in Orlu Local Government Area of the state.

The latest incident occurred on Tuesday.

The INEC spokesperson, Festus Okoye, who disclosed this in a statement on Wednesday, said the attackers vandalised some parts of the commission’s office.

Mr Okoye, a lawyer, said the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Imo State, Sylvia Agu, a professor, reported the incident to the commission.

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“Eight windows were smashed and burglary proofs removed. Fortunately, the attackers could not access the building. Movable and immovable equipment as well as other materials were not removed or vandalised,” he said.

The INEC spokesperson said, as a precautionary measure, some “critical materials” such as ballot boxes and voting cubicles have been evacuated to another INEC facility for safe keeping.

“Similarly, all uncollected PVCs have been secured while security will be deployed to ensure the continuous collection of the cards by registered voters in the same premises,” he stated.

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Mr Okoye said the attack has been reported to the police and other security agencies.

The INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, said on Friday that continuous attacks on the facilities of the commission may render it unprepared for the 2023 general election.

Not the first time in South-east

Although the attacks on INEC offices have been happening across the country, the commission has recently become a target of attacks across the South-east.

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The attacks have raised fears regarding the 2023 general elections in the region.

About four months ago, suspected arsonists razed an INEC office in Igbo-Eze North Local Government Area of Enugu State.

Two offices of INEC, in May 2021, were set ablaze by gunmen in Ebonyi State. The offices are in Ezza North and Izzi local government areas.

Another building belonging to INEC was also set ablaze in Imo State in May 2022.

Again, in September 2021, the commission’s office was set ablaze in Awgu Local Government Area, Enugu State.

The attacks on INEC facilities and security agencies around the South-east and the South-south have been attributed to the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).

But the group has repeatedly denied its involvement in the attacks.

IPOB is leading the agitation for an independent state of Biafra, which it wants carved out from the South-east and some parts of the South-south.

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