AT least, 19 places of work of the Unbiased Nationwide Electoral Fee have been gutted by hearth within the final two years, findings by The PUNCH have revealed.
A breakdown of the fireplace incidents confirmed that essentially the most affected states embody Akwa Ibom (4), Abia (three) Anambra (two) and Imo (two).
Different states that witnessed hearth incidents between February 2019 and Could 2021 are Borno, Ebonyi, Jigawa, Kano, Ondo, Plateau and Rivers. Abuja was additionally affected.
It was learnt that whereas 11 places of work had been burnt down by hoodlums, eight others had been gutted by hearth underneath mysterious circumstances or by electrical fault.
In all instances, nonetheless, nobody has been prosecuted for the vandalism and arson.
Additionally, the monetary implication of such destruction has by no means been revealed. Nonetheless, calculations by The PUNCH confirmed that the destruction might run into billions of naira.
As an illustration, on February 12, 2019, shortly earlier than the overall elections, two containers containing 4,695 sensible card readers had been destroyed together with different delicate supplies in a mysterious hearth on the Anambra State headquarters of INEC.
INEC estimated in its funds that every card reader value N167, 063 whereas every reminiscence card value N6,000.
The PUNCH had estimated that primarily based on INEC’s funds for such delicate materials, the loss incurred was about N847m which additionally included batteries and SAM (Safe Entry Module) playing cards.
Equally, on September 10, 2020, simply earlier than the Ondo State governorship election, about 5,141 card readers had been destroyed in a hearth on the state head workplace of the fee in Akure.
Based mostly on the funds estimates, the Akure hearth is anticipated to have value INEC nothing lower than N900m.
Weeks earlier than the overall elections on February 3, 2019, the INEC workplace in Isiala-Ngwa South Native Authorities Space of Abia State was burnt down in mysterious circumstances.
In the identical state, the fee’s amenities in Arochukwu LGA was vandalised in October 2020 whereas that of Aba South was fully burnt in December. INEC’s workplace in Ohafia was set ablaze on Could 9, 2021
The workplace of the fee within the Essien Udim Native Authorities Space of Akwa Ibom was set ablaze on Could 2, 2021. Gadgets destroyed embody 345 poll packing containers, 135 voting cubicles, megaphones, water tanks and workplace furnishings.
On the eve of the 2019 basic elections, INEC’s newly constructed prototype native authorities workplace in Ibesikpo Asutan was burnt down, whereas two extra places of work in Mkpat Enin and Jap Obolo LGAs had been additionally bombed.
In Ebonyi on March 9, 2019, INEC’s Registration Space Centre at Ezza North LGA was set ablaze by hoodlums.
On February 10, 2019, the INEC workplace in Qua’anpan LGA was gutted by hearth whereas poll packing containers, cubicles, PVCs and different delicate supplies had been burnt. The fireplace was mentioned to have been attributable to negligence.
On the INEC headquarters, Abuja, the Division of Electoral and Social gathering Monitoring was fully burnt on April 17, 2020, whereas in Kano, on April 20, 2021, the info processing centre was burnt together with the voter register, laser jet printers, computer systems, inverters and different objects.
INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner in Akwa Ibom State, Mike Igini, had mentioned earlier within the week that if unchecked, the assaults would possibly represent a setback to the fee’s preparations for the 2023 basic elections.
INEC’s spokesperson, Festus Okoye, had on Monday lamented the damaging influence of such assaults on Nigeria’s democratic train and electoral property.
The fee is anticipated to convene an emergency assembly of the Inter-Company Consultative Committee on Election Safety to deliberate on the right way to verify the incessant assaults on its places of work nationwide subsequent week.
When contacted on whether or not INEC’s places of work had been insured, Okoye mentioned he couldn’t readily present a response and pleaded for extra time to take action.
On the variety of places of work burnt, the INEC spokesman mentioned he didn’t know however might discover out after the vacations.
Talking with The PUNCH, nonetheless, a former Nationwide Commissioner of INEC, Prof. Lai Olurode, mentioned the burning of INEC places of work was an assault on democracy.
Olurode mentioned it was additionally a mirrored image of the overall insecurity within the land which had additionally led to the burning of police stations.
The previous INEC commissioner, nonetheless, mentioned the electoral physique was anticipated to insure all its places of work.
Whereas expressing religion within the high quality of elections performed by INEC, Olurode suggested aggrieved individuals to hunt authorized redress fairly than sponsor assaults on the fee’s places of work.
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