The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Professor Yakubu Mahmood, has said the commission suffered attacks on its offices and assets across the country, especially in the South-East.
He also lamented that flooding destroyed some of the commission’s facilities in the country.
Mahmood said this when he appeared before an adhoc committee of the House of Representatives on Friday.
He said, “The attacks have far-reaching implications on preparations for the general election. First, the facilities that are destroyed, especially offices, will take time to rebuild. They are not like items of procurement that you can procure off the shelf. So, an alternative arrangement has to be made. So, in some of the states, in addition to these malicious attacks, other matters that have arisen as a result of fire and flooding, we will have to make alternative arrangements by renting in some places we can find facilities to rent. In some of the remote areas, we may not find facilities to rent; so, we have to look for alternatives to the damaged facilities.
“Secondly, several materials lost will have to be replaced. In the recent attacks, some of the PVCs, for instance, were lost. But for the PVCs, we have instructed our state offices to send the Voter Identification Numbers of the PVCs lost so that we can reprint. We can from our database quickly regenerate and reprint the cards so that citizens are not disenfranchised.
“The commission and security agencies must also continue to provide safety around the facilities and this, as I said earlier, may be very challenging because the security agencies are also protecting all of us and other national assets. So, these attacks on our facilities are actually other challenges that our security agencies can do without. Now, we have to rebuild the facilities and our funds are overstretched by a number of factors. We cannot continue to replace and rebuild.”
According to Yakubu, what is even more worrisome for INEC is the attack in the Izzi Local Government Area of Ebonyi State, which first took place on May 18, 2012.
“We found the resources in our election project plan budget to rebuild the office and we did so. We rebuilt the office and our staff members moved in on Friday. That weekend, on Sunday, the office was burnt down again and there are five such offices nationwide where in spite of our best efforts, the facilities were attacked not once, but twice,” he added.
The INEC chairman noted that the commission had five offices which were attacked after they were rebuilt.
Yakubu added, “We are determined that we will continue with our preparations for the 2023 general election. So far, all the facilities will be rebuilt or alternatives found and materials will be replaced. However, should such attacks continue at the pace at which they are happening at the moment, the commission may find it increasingly difficult to recover in time for the elections.
“If it is about stopping the attacks, yes, we can recover. But if the attacks continue, it will be very difficult for the commission to recover. That is why concerted efforts to stop these attacks have become imperative and we hope that this public hearing will contribute to the required outcome.”