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Continued Attacks On INEC’s Facilities Threat To 2023- Yakubu

By Adedayo Said

INEC chairman Mahmood Yakubu
…Desperate politicians culpable – IGP

Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof Mahmood Yakubu has said the 2023 general elections were in danger should the incessant attacks on the commission’s offices and facilities continued unabated.

Acknowledging that the commission can replace some essentials destroyed, the chairman said there was a limit to which the attacks could stretch them.

Yakubu spoke at the commencement of an investigative hearing of the House Ad-hoc Committee of the House of Representatives investigating the attacks on offices and the facilities of the Independent National Electoral Commission on Friday in Abuja.

The committee had also expressed its displeasure with the office of the Attorney General of the Federation for saying it has not received any request for the prosecution of suspects responsible for attacks.

Yakubu said: “We are determined thatwe would continue with our preparations for the 2023 general elections. So far, all the facilities would be rebuilt or alternatives found and materials would 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 good time for the elections. If it is about stopping the attacks, yes we can recover, but if the attacks continue, it would be very difficult for the commission to recover. That is why concerted efforts to stop these attacks have become imperative and we hope this public hearing would contribute to the required outcome

“The attacks have far-reaching implications on preparation for the general elections. First, the facilities that are destroyed, especially offices, would 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, and other matters that have arisen as a result of fire and flooding, we would 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 damaged facilities

“Secondly several materials lost would 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 we can reprint them. 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. And what is even more worrisome for us is the attack in Izzi LGA of Ebonyi State. The building was first attacked on 18th May 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 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 facility was attacked not only once but twice. We have five offices inwhich even after rebuilding or trying to rebuild, the offices were attacked again.”

Responding to the committee’s displeasure with the office of the

Attorney General of the Federation on the arrest and prosecution not yet made, the Deputy Director in charge of prosecution, Yusuf Abdullahi after a grill by the lawmakers, said there was no former request yet.

He said “The office of the AttorneyGeneral is in charge of the prosecution, whether IG, DSS or other security agencies. Once they forward the case to us for prosecution with particular referenceto the subject matter in discussion now which has to do with the arrest and prosecution of attacks on offices of INEC, so as far as the office is concerned we have not formally received any request for prosecution on that one. That is the content of our letter. However, as soon as we receive, whether terrorism, banditry, or attacks, once we receive we commence an action to ensure that we keep legaladvice, analyze evidence and prosecute.”

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