A Civil Society Organisation, Yiaga Africa has described attacks on
the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) offices as an act
of democratic and economic sabotage.
Yiaga Africa said it is deeply worried about the recent ‘coordinated
and premeditated’ attacks on the facilities of INEC adding that it is
a dangerous sign for the country’s fragile democracy as it will not
just affect the commission’s preparation for upcoming elections but
also diminish citizens’ confidence in the electoral process.
A statement issued by the Director of Programmes, Cynthia Mbamalu,
Yiaga Africa said the trend of attacks on the offices and facilities
of the INEC is not just an act of sabotage to a critical institution
established by the Constitution to guarantee democratic leadership in
Nigeria but an assault on democracy and credible elections.
“These attacks also pose a potential threat to citizens’ right to vote
in an election. Yiaga Africa is concerned that, attack on democratic
institutions is antithetical to the drive for Electoral Reforms.
“From Yiaga Africa’s recent tracking of incidents of attacks on INEC
structures, at least 21 INEC offices across 10 states have been
attacked, vandalized or set ablaze within the last 24 months. The
most recent being the vandalisation and burning down of INEC offices
in Udenu LGA in Enugu State and in Ezza North LGA in Ebonyi State.
“We empathize with the Commission as we can testify to the huge
challenges that come with election management and deployment of
materials to various polling units ahead of elections. These attacks
will most likely have a negative impact on election planning,
deployment of personnel and materials and the overall cost of
elections in Nigeria,”the statement added.
the CSO said the attacks will create a financial burden on INEC and
increase the cost on INEC and Nigeria by extension.
“In addition, it is also a source of distraction to INEC especially
with the ongoing expansion of voter access to polling units and the
planned commencement of the Continuous Voters Registration (CVR)
across the country.
“It is even more worrying that there has been barely any arrest made
in connection with these heinous crimes. We are afraid that, if these
incessant arsons on election facilities are not checked, this will
affect Nigeria’s plan for the 2023 general elections. Citizens are
interested in an in-depth investigation into these attacks and for
perpetrators to be arrested and prosecuted as a deterrent to plans for
any other attack. Failure to do these will enable this culture of
impunity and create a violent climate for the elections.
“As the commission convenes an emergency meeting with all security
agencies and major stakeholders, they must devise crucial means of
tracking and arresting the perpetrators and prosecuting them along
with their sponsors.
“Security agencies must step up an effort to protect government
institutions against enemies of democracy who are bent on destroying
democratic institutions. Amidst the declining security situation in
the country and diminishing confidence of the citizens, this is an
opportunity for Nigerian security agencies to live up to their mandate
of protecting lives and properties.
“There is no gain reiterating the crucial role the election management
body plays in consolidating the nation’s democracy. Thus the need to
protect the commission, its independence, its facilities and personnel
remains sacrosanct, ” the statement added.