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Attacks risk preparations for Nigeria’s 2023 vote: official

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INEC

Attacks on Nigerian election offices are putting at risk early preparations for the country’s 2023 general election, the electoral body said.

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Political jostling has already begun in President Muhammadu Buhari’s ruling All Progressives Congress party (APC) and the main opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) to see who may replace him after two terms at the helm of the West African state.

At least four local offices of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) have been attacked by unknown assailants in the last month, with some electoral material, buildings and vehicles burnt or damaged.

“For us, we don’t know the motives, and it is a huge setback (for) our preparation for some of the off-season elections we have and the 2023 elections,” INEC commissioner on voter education, Festus Okoye, told local television late on Monday.

The INEC announced in April the 2023 general election was scheduled for Saturday, February 18 and it will lay out the full election plan before the end of the year.

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Okoye told AFP a local INEC office in southern Akwa Ibom state was attacked at the start of May as well as an office in Ohafia in southeast Abia State and an office in southeast Enugu State.

On Sunday, the INEC headquarters in Enugu was also attacked.

No group has claimed responsibility, but Nigeria’s southeast has seen a surge in attacks on police and prisons that authorities have blamed on separatists who want more independence for the indigenous Igbo people in the region.

The separatist Indigenous People of Biafra or IPOB movement has denied involvement on several occassions.

Buhari, first elected in 2015 and re-elected in 2019, has come under pressure over his government’s response to the country’s growing insecurity.

Nigeria’s armed forces are battling a more than decade-long Islamist insurgency in the northeast, a surge in bandit attacks and mass kidnapping in the northeast and the spate of violence against police in the south.

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