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INEC bonfires: Nagging assault on democracy

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INEC fire incident at its Udenu Local Government Area (LGA) office, Enugu.

• It’s Organised Crime, Says INEC Chair, Yakubu
• Blame Politicians-Youth Leader
• Evidence Of Security Failure, Ex-PDP Chair
• INEC Can Rent Offices To Address Concerns – Rep

The incineration of various facilities belonging to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) came as a new assault to Nigeria’s democracy. Who are behind the orgy criminal attacks? What could be their motives? Could the destruction of INEC logistics be an indirect or hidden message about the 2023 general election cycle?

Three states, namely, Akwa Ibom, Ebonyi and Enugu seem to be the worse hit. Not until similar attacks and conflagration happened in Abia and Imo states.
The attacks at the offices of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Ezza North and Izzi local councils were the fourth in the series of attacks being suffered in the southeast zone by the electoral umpire.

The offices of the Commission in Orlu Imo State had earlier been attacked. It was closely followed by the attack on the offices of the commission domiciled in the Ohaofia local council secretariat of Abia state. In all the attacks, electoral materials, vehicles and other working tools of the commission were either vandalized or set ablaze.

The scenario was replayed in Enugu last week. The attackers, who had on May 13, attacked and burnt down the Udenu offices of the Commission took their battle to the state headquarters of the Commission on Independence layout.

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In the attack, allegedly carried out by persons driving in buses numbering about 20, vehicles parked in the compound of the commission were either vandalized or burnt beyond recognition.

It was the prompt intervention of men of the federal and state Fire Services that saved the headquarters building from being burnt down. The arsonists had actually set fire to it but it was contained before much harm could come its way.

The INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Enugu, Dr. Emeka Ononamadu, had told The Guardian that the commission had improved security in all its facilities in the zone, after the Akwa Ibom offices were attacked.

He stated that the attacks had occurred when officials of the commission had closed for duty and wondered why its offices were now targets of attacks by hoodlums.

Dr. John Nwobodo, a lawyer and former state chairman of the Inter Party Advisory Committee (IPAC), said the burning of INEC offices speaks volumes about the worsening insecurity in the country, adding however that the character of the attack suggests the handiwork of secessionists disenchanted about Nigeria’s electoral system.

He said: “INEC is seen as the most critical institution in ensuring the continuity of Nigeria. It therefore seems that the objective of the perpetrators is to render them hamstrung and further to send warning signals that the worst is yet to happen. The inefficiency of the security agencies has further emboldened them to carry out such attacks without being detected.”

Speaking on the cost implication of the attacks, Nwobodo asserted that going forward, it could result in poor conduct of the 2023 general elections and in the long run, the emergence of candidates that did not receive the endorsement of the electorate.

He stated that already there was a panicky situation being developed in the minds of the people, stressing that, government would need to invest more resources to replace the burnt facilities and restore the confidence of the people that they would be adequately protected during the polls and the outcomes would not be jeopardized.

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“Whether or not it will have a psychological effect on the electorate depends on the general security situation in the country. The earlier the security agencies step up their operations and restore security in the country the better. If the security deteriorates than it is presently, then obviously there will be no conducive environment for elections to take place let alone voters assuming the risk to go out on Election Day. It is not an overstatement to say that the security situation portends great danger to democracy and the 2023 general elections. As we talk, the number of INEC offices burnt so far has risen to 23. The attacks have cost implications for INEC and going by the sharp decline in federal revenue, it is likely that funding for the 2023 election will be a major challenge,” he stated.

The cost to the electoral commission must be frightening as the level of damage is humongous. In Akwa Ibom, for instance, 345 ballot boxes and 135 voting cubicles were burnt by suspected gunmen, who also razed INEC office at Afaha, Ikot Ebak, headquarters of Essien Udium Local Council Area of the state.

Akwa Ibom State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Mr. Mike Igini, lamented that the destructions would definitely jeopardize the forth-coming 2023 elections if not checked. The REC disclosed that the commission spent N17million to renovate the office in Ibesikpo Asutan local council, after it was bombed on the eve of the 2019 general elections.

INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, said the persistent attacks on the commission’s facilities might undermine capacity to organise elections and dent the nation’s electoral process.

The INEC chairman noted that the attacks are capable of undermining the commission’s capacity to organise elections, as well as dent the nation’s electoral process.

Although, he said the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) for the next general elections is billed to start on Monday, June 28, 2021, but regretted that the recent assaults have challenged the commission and adversely affected its commitment to continue to improve on the electoral process.

He stated: “Unfortunately, some events in the recent past have challenged the commission and adversely affected our commitment to continue to improve the electoral process. The spate of arson and vandalisation targeting INEC’s facilities and property has become profoundly worrisome. Unfortunately, this has been on the rise since the 2019 general election, but has now developed into a crisis.

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“In the last three weeks or so, three of our local council offices in Essien Udim in Akwa Ibom State, Ohafia in Abia State and Udenu in Enugu State, have been set ablaze by unidentified persons.

“On Sunday, May 16, 2021, our state office in Enugu suffered yet another arson and vandalisation in which parts of the building were ransacked and several vehicles razed. More of our facilities are being systematically targeted and attacked. On Tuesday, May 18, 2021, two more offices in Ebonyi and Ezza North Local Councils of Ebonyi State were burnt down.”

He noted that although there were no casualties in the various attacks, “the damage to the physical infrastructure and electoral materials was total. Nothing has been salvaged from ballot boxes and voting cubicles to generating sets and office furniture and equipment.”

“The attacks,” Prof. Yakubu added,  “are no longer freak events, but appear to be quite orchestrated and targeted at INEC. Clearly, these are acts of unjustifiable aggression, which may undermine the commission’s capacity to organise elections and dent the nation’s electoral process.

“The facilities of the commission are there to serve the local communities for the most fundamental aspect of democratic governance, which are elections. Therefore, targeting such important national assets and repositories of electoral materials that took time and enormous resources to procure cannot be justified. Replacing these facilities in the prevailing economic circumstances will indeed be a tall order, thereby adversely affecting electoral services in the same communities.”

He pointed out that the facilities being destroyed are not only limited to voting, “but also used for other critical electoral activities such as voter registration, the coordination of stakeholder engagements and voter education and sensitisation.”

The INEC chairman, however, assured that INEC would work with the security agencies to deal with the perpetrators, saying, “A meeting with all the security agencies would be held on Monday May 24 2021. However, it has become imperative to call on all and sundry, particularly communities where these assets are located, to see themselves as owners and custodians of these facilities and assist the Commission in protecting them. I am glad that some of them are already doing so.”

On the CVR, Yakubu said what is left is to finalise issues surrounding the newly established Polling Units in order to update the registration software and make them available to registrants.

IN his reaction to Yakubu’s outcry, a founding member of ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Olabiyi Durojaiye said the position of the commission on its capacity to conduct election in the persistence of the arsons is genuine. He however said there is still time and hope to correct the challenges if there is political will to do the needful.

He said President Muhammadu Buhari must urgently organise a national dialogue in line with the demands of the 17 southern governors resolutions to discuss the challenges confronting Nigeria or best implement the 2014 National Conference report before the next general elections to save the nation from impending anarchy.

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‘Development Reflects Something Is Wrong With Our System’
IN a reaction to the alarm raised by INEC’s chairman, Durojaiye said what the Southern governors demanded at the meeting held in Asaba Delta State would provide greater and holistic solutions beyond the challenges confronting INEC.

The elder statesman said he has once raised similar resolutions to that of the 17 Southern governors in a 9-page Memorandum he submitted to the Senate on the Review of the 1999 Constitution on September 15 2020.

Besides, he also suggested the need to return to the Independence Constitution of 1960, which he insisted was drafted with the will of the people.

The former lawmaker warned that the 1999 Constitution was forced on the nation by the military and is responsible for the crises threatening the corporate existence of the country.

Although the elder staman said there is still enough room for the country, especially the ruling party and President Buhari to address the issues, “Otherwise if the current happenings continue the country may not hold the 2023 general elections. There is still enough time for the federal government to set up a committee to look into the report of the confab, warning that failure to do this, the nation may disintegrate.

“I foresaw the political crisis rocking the nation now when I sent a memorandum to the National Assembly last year on Federal Structure and Power Devolution.

“Let use this opportunity to jettison the 1999 Constitution crafted by the Military in the borrowed gown of ‘We the People’ and revive a truly federal constitution which our political founding fathers painstakingly agreed to after a series of constitutional conferences in Nigeria and Britain (Lancaster House) between 1956 and 1960!”

Durojaiye disagreed with those calling on the National Assembly to review the Constitution, saying that such is an exercise in futility.

“As the truth must be told, powerful as the National Assembly is, as regards enactment of laws as stated above, it cannot prescribe itself into existence. The National Assembly itself is a creation of the Constitution of the country. The English translation of a Nigerian proverb is that ‘A sharp knife cannot carve its own handle.”

He urged the Federal Government to convene a Constituent Assembly immediately, adding that: “We already have many models to go by in terms of well-spread representation including ethnic nationalities that existed before Lord Lugard arrived. They have their customary leaders, economic and political interests, gender, labour, youths, security, intellectual, technical, professional and other similar interests and legal experts to assist in drafting the Constitution clause by clause.”

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He also called on the government to look into the agitations by youths, saying that their grievances should be addressed in national interest.

“It will be an act of pretense to deny knowledge of the clamour of many Nigerian Youths, especially in the Southern parts who are pessimistic about their future welfare and who believe that the way out is to secure independence of their own part of the country.

“But many people of my age and background who appreciate the value of territorial size and big population in attainment of “Greatness” by modern Super-power countries like the United States of America, the Republic of China, the former USSR, India and Canada etc would prefer we stay together, not only as one country but also as a centre of a possible United States of West Africa (ECOWAS).

“But we cannot in all conscience ignore the grievances of the youths. We must be determined to openly, sincerely and critically persuade them with the belief and assurance that all will be well. The new draft Constitution must also ensure this position.

“Prudence and Statesmanship warrant a careful examination of the grievances of the youths and try to accommodate and assuage as much as possible their fears to avoid any drift towards balkanization of our beautiful and potentially great country. Persuasion will be preferred to resort to force. This country has fought an expensive civil war before. We cannot afford a second one.”

ADC blames APC, PDP
National Chairman African Democratic Congress (ADC), Ralph Nwosu said INEC is not sincere about conducting credible elections until it impresses on the National Assembly and the government of President Buhari to sign the electronic voting system into law.

He blamed destruction of INEC facilities across the country on the recklessness of the government and incapacity to address the state of insecurity in the country.

According to him, “Question must be raised as to reasons behind the destruction of INEC sensitive materials and facilities in areas where the opposition parties are stronger? I also flayed the commission’s arrogance of exempting leadership of political leaders in its strategic meetings; otherwise some of these critical issues would have been appropriately trashed.

“The fact that the security is broken down in the country is not people’s fault but that of the government. My conclusion therefore is the APC led government and the major opposition party PDP are not really ready to allow free, fair and credible elections in 2023. But one thing I can assure is
Nigerians will resist any suspected act to manipulate the next general elections.”

FORMER Deputy National Chairman of PDP, Chief Olabode George however appeal to Nigerians and especially Southeast and South-South people to apply caution, saying, “The challenges facing Nigeria cannot be resolved by violence or destruction of public property.

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According to him, “INEC itself is part of the problems we needed to address and destruction of its property will provide the solution. I want to beg my Igbo brothers and others to tread with caution.”

George said hardly can Nigeria point to any election that is credible and therefore the claim that recent events would impinge the commission’s ability to conduct election is a wild claim “this INEC’s capacity is seriously in doubt from day one.”

SDP Says Destroyed INEC Facilities Are Consequences Of national insecurity
NATIONAL Chairman Social Democratic Party (SDP), Dr. Olu Agunloye said it was unfortunate that the destroyed INEC facilities are part of critical infrastructures for Nigeria’s development and prospects for development.

According to him, “In the hard or soft forms, they are essential to carrying out electoral processes, which are indispensable to democracy. But these are being steadily and serially destroyed across the country. What a big shame.

“Unfortunately, farms, farmlands, houses and human lives are also being destroyed across the nation. School children are being kidnapped across the nation plunging the school system into crisis. Adults are being kidnapped, attacked, raped, butchered and terrorised. Residents, farm owners, original landowners and long-term settlers are being displaced by terrorists and criminals. Unemployment, poverty, inflation, hunger and anger levels are exploding, and the entire social architectural order is being gradually destroyed.

[FILES] INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu. Photo; TWITTER/INECNIGERIA

“Therefore, why should anyone single out INEC or 2023? The case of destruction of INEC facilities reminds me of the famous Chief Babajona of the South West. After this bearded old man got burnt, some of his sympathisers rushed to the scene to ask: Did Babajona’s beard also burn?”

The SDP national chairman agreed that the destructive development will impinge on the Commission’s capacity to conduct the 2023 polls and this will certainly affect the capability of INEC to ensure a credible election, he said  INEC’s efforts at modernising the electoral process, all those high-technological innovations and all those efforts, most of which I believe are genuine to make votes count are being destroyed.
Former Niger State governor, Babangida Aliyu, haa reviewed the incessant attacks and burning of offices of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) across the country and canvassed the review of the constitution and the law with a view to prohibiting persons with dual citizenship from seeking elective offices in Nigeria.

He believed that those responsible for the attacks on INEC offices had other ulterior motives and might be provoking the State to take some actions.

In an exclusive chat with The Guardian, Aliyu, who is currently the chairman of the forum of former Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governors, observed that the laws on requirements for contesting elections in this country were too loose particularly with respect to dual citizenship.

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He stated: “Maybe it may be too much to ask because it is part of the fundamental human rights of people; this dual citizenship thing, I think we must look at it and review it properly. Are you a Nigeria or not a Nigeria?

You will go and serve in the military of a foreign country, then you come back to Nigeria and start agitating for what is not, that is one for that purpose.”

According to Aliyu, “In other countries, unless you satisfy certain requirements you cannot even run for elections, but here (Nigeria), everybody wakes up and begin to run for elections, producing leaders that sometimes may not appreciate the gravity of the situation that we are in”

He also charged security agencies to begin immediate investigation into the burning of INEC offices to find out their motives.

“It is very important that our security agencies and believe me, each institutions have one security agency or the other from the military down to the actual SSS, to investigate this matter properly so that we can separate them from what we consider the insecurity of kidnapping, banditry and boko haram from this particular internal provocators who are trying to provoke the state, we need to distinguish and understand what is happening”

“They may relate because we know about this groups that are agitating for separation, agitating for secession and co; so they may be the ones now who are doing this particular one to encourage them and to give them a justification to continue” he added.

The former governor made it clear that if the intention of the attackers of INEC offices was to destabilise the country and pave way for military takeover, his party, the PDP would reject it.

Three INEC offices in three LGAs at Aba South, Isiala Ngwa South and Ohafia were also burnt by unknown persons in Abia State, while that of Arochkwu was vandalized.In all, INEC records were affected.

Chairman of the state chapter of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Asiforo Okere, who described the act as a bad omen, called for dialogue to find a durable way of addressing it, stressing that every agitation should be considered and looked into.

Okere’s counterpart in the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr. Donatus Nwankpa, said the criminal acts portend danger to lives and national cohesion, adding that future elections are uncertain to hold. Nwankpa said elected officials should liaise with their constituents on the unfolding ugly scenarios, stressing that they should identify the causes and identify constitutional breaches with a view to evolving necessary action instead of playing to the gallery.

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A youth leader in the state, Mr. Eke Kanu, blamed the country’s woes on selfish politicians, who according to him, have in their quest to grab power provoke the masses. He said: “We do not have listening and responsive leaders, the economy is dead, the poor majority are suffering and yet buy from the same market as the rich. Those working are duly paid salaries, while government policies subject them to penury.”

Kanu said such developments could warrant the people to overreact by taking laws into their own hands. This is just as a former state chairman of PDP, Senator Emma Nwaka, described the attacks on INEC facilities across the country in recent times as a direct assault on Nigeria’s democracy.

“Periodic elections are the hallmark of any democracy and when you cripple the body constitutionally charged with the responsibility to organise elections through mindless acts of vandalism, obviously you’ve dealt a fatal blow to the democratic process.

“Nigerians have again and again demonstrated their love for democracy so our security agencies are duty bound to buckle up and stop this ugly trend of destroying INEC properties, particularly their records.

“It is of course not possible to isolate the case of the INEC tragedy from the general state of insecurity now plaguing every part of Nigeria. The bulk of the job to be done to arrest the anarchic situation in the country rests squarely with the intelligence arm of our security agencies.

“They are indeed not pulling their weight. Obviously, these agents of darkness troubling us are humans who dwell among us so it beats the imagination that they can’t be tracked down. After all, they don’t disappear into thin air after their dastardly acts,” Nwaka stated.

Against the backdrop of the reoccurring attacks on its facilities, the electoral body has assured that 2023 general election and other terminal polls would go on as scheduled.  INEC Deputy Director, Publicity, Andy Ezeani, told The Guardian that persistent attacks on its facilities by criminals wouldn’t affect its preparation for forthcoming polls.

He noted that though there are  fears that the development might undermine capacity to organise elections as earlier stated, INEC does not have any plan B, but was working to ensure that all the elections hold as stated.

He said: “Beyond INEC, as a society and a country, if you have insecurity getting to a level that people are not secured, they can’t even leave their houses, nor go to work or farm, at that stage, it doesn’t conduce well to carry out any activity at all not even a question of election but basically we are working to ensure that things get better.

“INEC has no plan B. The commission is working hard to ensure that the election holds. That is what is on the ground. There is only one plan and that is to work hard to ensure that we bring the situation under control.

“Furthermore, INEC is working assiduously to ensure that these programmes continue without any hindrance. From the by-elections, Anambra governorship election and those coming up next year, INEC is working without missing a day to ensure that these elections are carried out. So there is no question of any Plan B or Plan C in that case, it is just that Plan A and that is we are going to go on with these elections.”

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On what is being done to protect the commission’s assets, Ezeani said the electoral umpire would continue to rely on the security agencies but would also explore alternatives to support them.

He explained that the commission was working closing with communities to ensure that they take ownership of the facilities, adding that motives or source of the attacks were yet to be identified.

“It is true that the security agencies are also in difficulty situation, but it is the primary responsibility of security agencies to do protect these facilities. What INEC is doing currently is not to replace reliance on the security agencies because you cannot replace them but we are seeking alternatives to support them.

“INEC exists in all 774 local government in the country so we are reaching out to the communities to take ownership of the facilities, rise to defend them so they can identify suspicious elements going around the place.

“We feel that part of the problem is when people in the community see these assets as something that does not belong to them.  Effort is being made to make them understand that though these are national assets but they also belong to the community. They should take interest in guiding them.

“One of the major frustrations the commission is facing is situation where we can’t identify where the attacks are coming from. We cant exactly say whether is external or internal attacks but if the community pay close attention the way they do to their own facilities and investment, it will go a long way.

“The commission does not have power to investigates or prosecutes as that is the duty of the security agencies. In fact the commission is baffled because we don’t have in our possession anything anyone could identify as a precious materials that is worth stealing. In many cases, we are even talking of these hoodlums burning down our offices and we don’t in anyway have a faintest idea of what could be their motive(s).”

A Professor of International Law and Global Politics, Prof Jehu Onyekwere Nnaji stated that burning of INEC offices is a pointer to the fact that the people were no longer comfortable with the system or that present economic disequilibrium was created by the institution.

He said: “There are also a number of issues on the front burner of Nigerian polity and politics namely agitation for secession, poor representation by elected officials, inadequate infrastructural development, high cost of living, and poor medical care and most importantly the fact that people don’t believe in fair elections and cronyism and vote buying will override the transparent voting process. The federal government cannot pretend not to know that these problems are real just as insecurity stares in the face of every Nigerian.

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If a state governor in Nigeria is unduly ambushed then it means that the ordinary citizen is not safe anywhere”.

Nnaji stated that already the electorate was getting apprehensive by the day over the developments, stressing that it would be dangerous should Nigerians get to the point of losing confidence in the 2023 general elections.

“If security is not guaranteed, it will lead to voter apathy and lots of valid voters will be disenfranchised as a result. We have seen attacks on the security infrastructure namely the Police and the Military and now it is against INEC. It is obvious that there is more to the problem than meets the eye”, he added.

Although, it had not been ascertained who the attackers are, a former lawmaker, Chief Nwabueze Ugwu, however, blamed political leaders, whom he said had failed to live up to their electoral promises, adding that in their guise to retain power, do all manner of things.

“They can create this sense of fear and panic, to enable them to manipulate their way in the election. That is the way it is. But we are concerned that nobody has been arrested to tell us, those behind these attacks”, he said.

On what the stakeholders can do to stem the tide, a former Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for Ekiti state, Chief Nduka Eya, stated that the people should see the attacks as one targeted on democracy, stressing that efforts should be made to safeguard the system.

“Let our church leaders speak out that this is evil. Let our traditional rulers call their people to order. Accepted that the Commission is not perfect, but it is improving by the day. We can collectively join efforts to create a perfect society that we all yearn for. It is not holding INEC responsible for every electoral slip that will change the system”, he said.

Eya also stated that policies and programmes of the government as it affects the activities of the commission should be reviewed such that could impact meaningfully in the conduct of elections.

House of Representatives member, Mr. Ossai Nicholas Ossai has decried the destruction of INEC facilities by arsonists in the South East geopolitical zone of the country.

Ossai who chairs the House committee on treaties, protocol and agreements enjoined those behind the act to retrace their steps.

The Delta born lawmaker however disagreed with the notions held in certain quarters that the unfortunate development could impact negatively on the conduct of the 2023 general elections.

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His words: “It’s very unfortunate because these are critical infrastructure that are supposed to be protected. When you are advancing your reasons it is not done by destroying infrastructures but by government.

“So it doesn’t make sense. So I am calling those of them the unknown gunmen to rescind their decisions. Their decisions is not in their own benefits whatever interest or any group or persons they represent. I don’t think it would affect the conduct of the 2023 elections because the independent national electoral commission (INEC) can always rent any offices to address most of their concerns.

“But I still insist that these are critical infrastructures that shouldn’t be destroyed. So why target them I don’t know. They are called unknown gunmen. Unknown gunmen are from the known so to that extent they are known. I am calling on the unknown gunmen or whatever they represent to rescind those decisions that they have taken.”

In Imo State 200 voters card failed integrity test after irate youths burnt the INEC facility during the #EndSARS protests in the state.  The commission’s office at Ehime Mbano Local Government Area, was partly set ablaze. Some of the voting materials were destroyed by fire.

Since then, the commission has overcome the setback. The Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Prof. Francis Chukwueneka Ezeonu, who confirmed it said the commission, has put machinery in place to safeguard other offices and polling units (PUs), numbering 4,758.

There were existing 3,523 PUs, before a few weeks ago, when the authorities of of the agency, upgraded 1,235 voting points previously used in the 2011, 2015 and 2019 general elections, to PUs. This is making the figure to 4,758, spread in the 305 INEC wards in the state, supported by the Registration Areas.

Ezeonu, also told The Guardian that about 200 voters card lost integrity tests conducted on them as a result of the disaster, lamenting the unseriousness of some persons who refused to collect the cards.

Meanwhile, the Imo REC has convened stakeholders meeting where he used the opportunity to canvass support and urged them to enlighten their people, especially the youths from destroying the commission’s facilities in their localities.

Buhari’s Silence Ominous
IN support of Yakubu’s outcry, PDP National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan said the commission alarm was genuine. He said why are INEC’s facilities being destroyed where the opposition appears to be stronger.

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According to him, “APC and the government in power should be held responsible for the destruction of INEC’s facilities. The silence of President Buhari over the matter is also worrisome.”

No Basis For State of Emergency
WARNING against the ploy to use the development to subtly lure the Federal Government to declare a State of Emergency in the Southeast region with the impression that the commission’s facilities are only being destroyed in the zone, a legal practitioner, Goody Nwazurike said INEC has a budget for security of which it is expected to use incase of anticipated problems in far-flung offices.

According to him, “By design or by accident, those offices are scantily protected and are barely used. The major duties of the electoral body are registration of voters, delineation of voting centers and conduct of elections. These are not everyday affairs and the materials, for security reasons, are stored in the Central Bank branches and other secured places. They are not stored in the isolated offices scattered all over the federation. Presently, such isolated offices have been vandalized or burnt in different states of the federation.

It is utterly mischievous to give the impression that it is happening in the South East.”

He said the conduct of elections is a constitutional matter and that the right to vote and be voted for is sacrosanct. “For many years, no proper election has been conducted in Kano, Borno, Yobe and Katsina states. Election officials, including NYSC members, have been killed with impunity.

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