740 ballot boxes, 240 cubicles destroyed as hoodlums burn Enugu INEC office
• HURIWA blames saboteurs, slams security agencies
The office of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Igboeze North Local Council of Enugu State has been burnt down.
The incident, which happened on Sunday night, resulted in extensive damage to the building and stores section where election materials were kept.
Confirming the incident, INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, in a statement yesterday, said the arsonists overpowered the security guards, forced their way into the premises and set the building ablaze.
While describing the attack as worrisome, Okoye said though no casualties were reported, 748 ballot boxes, 240 voting cubicles, office furniture and equipment were destroyed despite efforts of the Enugu Fire Service deployed from Nsukka.
He said the incident had been reported to the police for investigation and further action.
Okoye said: “The commission is working to ascertain the status of voter registration machines for the ongoing Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise, as well as uncollected Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) locked up in the fireproof cabinet.
“The attack, coming in the middle of the voter registration exercise and other preparations for the 2023 general election, is worrisome.
“It will be recalled that on May 23, 2021, our office in the neighbouring Igboeze South Local Council was attacked in a similar manner by unknown gunmen. This followed earlier attacks on Udenu Local Council office on May 13, 2021, and the state headquarters in Enugu on May 16, 2021.
“The commission has since substantially recovered from these attacks and resumed normal activities there, including the CVR and collection of PVCs.
“The commission will continue to work with the security agencies and the emergency services to protect our facilities.”
MEANWHILE, the Human Rights Writers Association (HURIWA) has condemned the burning of the Enugu office of INEC and other government offices in the South East, alleging that saboteurs who do not want Igbo to become politically relevant in Nigeria may have perpetrated the attack.
In a statement signed by the National Coordinator of HURIWA, Emmanuel Onwubiko, and made available to The Guardian, the rights group said: “We think that no sane Igbo man or woman will be part of a sinister plot to reduce Igbo to perpetual second fiddle in the political affairs of a country, which they have contributed so much to build and sustain economically.”
The rights group, therefore, slammed the security agencies for their failure to hound down those involved in various attacks on INEC facilities in the South East.
The group said: “It is surprising that the armed security services have, so far, been unable to track down these saboteurs over the last two years that the burning of national assets in the South East started.
“We also think that the failure of security agencies to track down the hoodlums maybe deliberate to cripple the political progress of the South East.