The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says the attacks on its offices may affect early preparations for the 2023 general elections if allowed to continue.
INEC National Commissioner and Chairman of Information and Voter Education, Festus Okoye, stated this on Monday during an interview on Channels Television’s Politics Today.
“For us, we don’t know the motives and it is a huge setback on our preparation for some of the off-season elections we have and the 2023 elections,” he said of the invasion of INEC offices by hoodlums.
Okoye added, “We are worried that our preparations are being distracted and distorted. We are also worried because some of our officers are now living in fear in relation to what is going on
“There is no doubt whatsoever that what is going on is unacceptable, and it is going to divert the attention of the commission from early preparations for the 2023 elections and for the off-season elections that we’re organising.”
Over the past weeks, INEC suffered losses as a result of the series of attacks on some of its offices by hoodlums in parts of the country, especially in the South.
During the invasion, the electoral umpire’s offices were set on fire with vehicles destroyed, while sensitive and non-sensitive materials were also destroyed in some cases.
Condemning the attacks, Okoye decried that the ugly trend was already having a negative effect on the commission’s activities.
He explained that among the sensitive and non-sensitive materials lost to the attacks were smart card readers and generators.
The INEC official believes while the commission may decide to rent apartments to replace its burnt local government offices, the disposition of the landlords of such properties may affect the outcome of the elections conducted there.
“You know that we just finished verification relating to the expansion of voters’ access to the polling units; it was at the various local government offices that these were coordinated – they coordinated the geo-referencing of the old and new polling units.
“If you attack our local government offices, you are attacking our capacity and capability of conducting elections,” he said.
Okoye added, “So when you displace the commission, the implication is that the commission may have to go and look for a rented house and when the commission goes to look for a rented office.
“You don’t know the political disposition and inclination of the landlords of that office; you may just come out on election day and find out that your offices are locked and there is absolutely nothing you will do about it.”