Insecurity: Attacks on our offices threaten 2023 elections — INEC - The Gallant News


Monday, 3 May 2021

Insecurity: Attacks on our offices threaten 2023 elections — INEC


The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, yesterday raised alarm over frequent attacks on its offices nationwide, saying this could derail the 2023 general elections.

The alarm followed yesterday’s attack on its office in Essien Udim Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State.

This came as insecurity woes in the country were weekend compounded by the killing of a senior military officer by Boko Haram which attacked a military base in Ajiri village in Mafa Local Government Area of Borno State.

This is even as gunmen killed Kogi State Commissioner for Pensions Board, Mr. Solomon Adegbayo, popularly known Akeweje, in the border between Kogi and Kwara State while travelling to his home town, Egbe, from Ilorin, Kwara State

Chairman of Yagba West Local Government Area of Kogi State, Mr. Pius Kolawole, who rode with the commissioner in his car was kidnapped by the gunmen. His where-abouts is unknown.

Also last weekend, gunmen attacked another police station, killing a policeman.

INEC’s office razed in A-Ibom LG

INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC, for Akwa Ibom State, Barr. Mike Igini, said its office in Essien Udim Local Government Area had been set ablaze.

“The recent attack on our facility after we have just concluded the inventory of electoral materials nationwide in readiness for the 2023 general election is worrisome.

‘’If unchecked, these attacks may constitute a setback on the commission’s preparations, including the ongoing conversion of voting points to polling units, the forthcoming Continuous Voters Registration, CVR, exercise and the conduct of polls,” the commission said.

Also reacting to the attack, National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee of INEC, Barr. Festus Okoye, in a statement, said the incident occurred in the early hours of yesterday, May 2, 2021.

“Our security guards on duty escaped unhurt but the destruction to the building and properties therein was extensive. Items destroyed include 345 ballot boxes, 135 voting cubicles, megaphones, water tanks and office furniture,” Okoye stated.

According to him, the police, which have also been battling with attacks on their facilities and personnel in the area, are aware of the incident and have commenced investigation.

It recalls that on the eve of the 2019 general election, INEC’s newly constructed prototype local government office in Ibesikpo Asutan was burnt down, while two more offices in Mkpat Enin and Eastern Obolo LGAs were also bombed.

“Nevertheless, the commission wishes to assure Nigerians that we will leave no stone unturned to recover from the incident in Akwa Ibom State as we continue to prepare for all electoral activities,” Okoye added.

Officer killed, gun trucks carted away in fresh B- Haram attack

At Ajiri in Mafa Local Government Area of Borno State, Boko Haram insurgents yesterday attacked a military base, killing the commanding officer (names withheld), injuring a soldier and dislodging the troops.

The attackers were also said to have seized and carted away three military gun trucks, arms and ammunition.

The attack came at about 1:00am, barely 12 hours after some insurgents on Saturday evening attacked Rann, the headquarter of Kala Balge Local Government Area and Limankara village of Gwoza Local Government Area of the state.

Ajiri town about 50km in Borno Central, is located along Maiduguri- Mafa- Dikwa road, where thousands of its people, mostly Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, recently relocated back to the community to pick up the pieces of their lives.

Multiple sources said the terrorists did not attack the civilian populace in Ajiri community but went straight to the military base and overwhelmed the government forces in a gun battle.

A senior security source, who confirmed the attack on the base, said he could not give the casualty figures.

However, all efforts to get confirmation from the Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Edet Okon, proved abortive.

Vanguard gathered that the acting Deputy Governor, Umar Kadafur, was billed to visit the affected community late afternoon yesterday.

Kogi Pensions commissioner killed, LGA chair abducted

Similarly, gunmen on Saturday evening killed Kogi State Commissioner for Pensions Board, Solomon Adegbayo, aka Akeweje, while travelling to Lokoja from his village, Egbe.

The chairman of Yagba West Local Government Area of the state, Mr. Pius Kolawole, who was travelling with him in his car, was also kidnapped by the gunmen.

Vanguard learned that the commissioner died on the spot after he was shot in his abdomen by his attackers at Eruke, a few kilometres to his home town, Egbe, while returning from Ilorin, Kwara State capital.

Kogi State Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, DSP William Aya, who confirmed the attack in Lokoja yesterday, said Kolawole was with Akeweje in the same car when they were attacked by the gunmen at Eruku.

Aya said that Akeweje was hit by gunmen’s bullet and died in the process, adding that his remains had been deposited at ECWA hospital, Egbe, while the whereabouts of Kolawole remained unknown.

“The Commissioner of Police in the state, Mr Ede Ayuba, has deployed personnel to the area to search for and rescue the chairman from his abductors. The command is not resting on its oars to secure his release,” Aya assured.

The incident has thrown the area into mourning.

Police station attacked in Ebonyi, Policeman killed

Also, unknown gunmen Saturday night, attacked Abaomege police station in Onicha Local Government Area of Ebonyi State.

The attack led to the killing of one Police officer on duty, while another received gunshot injury.

A reliable police source who did not want his name in print, confirmed the attack, saying the gunmen attacked the station at night with dangerous arms.

“Yes, some unknown gunmen attacked Abomege police station and a policeman was killed, while another was hospitalized, following injury sustained in the attack.”

The injured policeman is currently receiving treatment at the Alex Ekwueme Federal University Teaching Hospital in Abakaliki.

Vanguard gathered that the attack on the police station was not totally successful as the gunmen failed to gain full access into the station.

Several Police stations and divisions in Ebonyi State have in recent time been under attack by gunmen.

The State Commissioner of Police and the Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO DSP Loveth Odah could not be reached at press time yesterday.

Abducted Plateau student regains freedom

In a related development, the student of Kings College, Gana Ropp in Barkin Ladi Local Government Area of Plateau State who was kidnapped by gunmen after an attack on their school last Thursday, has regained his freedom.

Spokesman of Operation Safe Haven, Major Ibrahim Shittu, said in a statement yesterday that the student, identified as Kelvin Eze, was rescued by troops on Saturday night.

The statement read: “Troops of Operation SAFE HAVEN on Saturday, 1 May 2021 at about 0835pm rescued a kidnapped student of Kings College, Gana Ropp in Barkin-Ladi Local Government Area of Plateau State, Mr Kelvin Eze, who was kidnapped by bandits on 28 April 2021.

“This was achieved through the sustained search and rescue operation by the troops, without payment of ransom. The rescued student who is hale and hearty has since been reunited with other students in the college.

“It would be recalled that the timely intervention of security personnel forced the bandits to abandon the other abductees.

“Operation SAFE HAVEN wishes to reassure law-abiding citizens of their safety and its determination to bring lasting peace across its joint operational areas. It, therefore, solicits further support and cooperation of the general public.”

Nigeria drifting, govt should protect Nigerians — JNI

Reacting to the spate of insecurity in the country yesterday, the Jama’atu Nasril Islam, JNI, led by the Sultan of Sokoto, Alaji Mohammed Sa’ad Abubakar III, said Nigeria was drifting and asked the Federal Government to live up to its responsibility by protecting the lives and property of Nigerians.

In a statement issued by the Secretary-General of the religious body, Dr Khalid Abubakar yesterday, JNI also urged Muslim Ummah to pray for the overturn of the hardship facing Nigerians, especially during the last ten days of the Ramadan fast.

It also called on the wealthy Muslims to assist the needy as well as the poor who were adversely hit by the economic crunch.

The statement, titled ‘’The last ten days of Ramadan-1442AH and the need for sober reflection in Nigeria,’’ said: “Jama’atu Nasril Islam, JNI, under the leadership of His Eminence, the Sultan of Sokoto and President-General, uses this medium, to implore Nigerian Muslims to fervently engage in supplications and be more dedicated to the worship of Allah (SWT), amidst the daunting challenges and many uncertainties bedevilling the Nigerian state.

“More importantly, we should pray for an end of the myriad security imbroglio in Nigeria and watch out for the Laylatul Qadr (the Night of Power) which often comes up in one of the five exceptional nights, according to authentic Ahadith of Prophet Muhammad (SAW).

“We again reiterate that Muslims should intensify their generosities in giving alms to the poor, the needy and the orphans in the society, especially now that many families are finding it very unbearable, as a result of biting economic challenges bedevilling the country.

“We must nonetheless pray also for the economic overturn and restoration of security, in Nigeria.

“Government should, however, be more alive to the primary responsibility of its existence – i.e. safeguarding lives and property.

“In the same vein, Muslims are, reminded of the Zakatul Fitr (Ordained Alms Giving at the end of Ramadan Fast), which is supposed to be given out to the needy in the last three days of Ramadan or in the early hours of the first day of Shawwal i.e the ‘Eid-el-Fitr day, before the commencement of the ‘Eid prayer.

“Nonetheless, we again call on the Muslim faithful to intensify prayers for the Ummah against all manners of misfortunes, relief and succour for the myriads of economic and security challenges hampering on the nation. Nevertheless, come what may, we must pray for absolute faith in Allah!

“Whilst wishing all Muslim faithful Allah’s pardon in these sacred days and beyond, we pray fervently for His benevolent acceptance of our Ramadan Fast, even as we urge all Muslims never to return to abominable acts after Ramadan, as the Lord of Ramadan remains the Lord of the Worlds and He takes account of all our actions.”

Sponsors of terror to be unveiled soon— APC

Meanwhile, the All Progressives Congress, APC, said yesterday that there was already ongoing high-level investigations to unravel those behind the growing wave of terrorism and other violent crimes across the country.

It also expressed hope that at the end of the probe, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, would not be found to be sponsoring destabilizing elements ahead of the 2023 general elections.

The APC stated this in a statement issued by the National Secretary of its Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee, CECPC, Sen. John James Akpanudoedehe, in Abuja yesterday.

APC was reacting to a statement by the PDP after its national caucus at the weekend to the effect that the country was fast descending into anarchy and that President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration has no solutions, having been overwhelmed by the demands of governance.

The statement read: “While high-level investigations are ongoing to fish out sponsors and perpetrators of the security incidents, President Buhari has already given marching orders to our security services to check the security incidents.

“We pray the investigations should not reveal conspiracies by the opposition to weaken the government in furtherance of their desperate 2023 aspirations”.

APC, however, declared that no one should be in doubt as to the urgency and capacity of the President Muhammadu Buhari government to end the recent security incidents.

“We urge stakeholders and indeed all well-meaning Nigerians to avoid politicising or being simplistic about the security situation. At a time like this, our duty to our nation as good citizens should outweigh political party colorations.

“As those who receive constant security briefings, PDP Governors should know that divisive rhetorics can only embolden the criminals who are carrying out these cowardly acts. This is not the time to play to the gallery, but sit down to find real and lasting solutions. The latter is what the President Buhari administration is doing.

“We are, however, confident that our PDP governors and indeed all stakeholders will cooperate and support ongoing efforts to quickly and permanently end the security incidents.’'

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