President Muhammadu Buhari has warned politicians about the consequences of their actions, warning them to caution their thugs or risk commensurate backlash from law enforcement agencies.
According to him, the federal government is concerned about the resort to violence by politicians, saying within a space of one month, 32 of such incidents have been recorded.
The president’s admonition came as the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC also decried the spate of violence in the country, particularly in relation to electioneering ahead of next year’s general election, saying it has tracked 50 incidents of campaign violence in 21 states.
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Specifically, the commission condemned the renewed attacks on its facilities, explaining that it has begun the process of identifying the 65,699 uncollected PVCs destroyed in its Abeokuta, Ogun state office with a view to reprinting them immediately.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu disclosed this on Friday in Abuja at an emergency meeting of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security ICCES.
Speaking before the meeting went into a closed door, Prof. Yakubu said; “Two developments this week necessitated this meeting. First, the simultaneous attacks on our Local Government Area offices in Abeokuta South in Ogun State and Ede South Local Government office in Osun State.
“The attack in Abeokuta South happened around 1.15am while that of Ede happened around 6.00am yesterday Thursday 10th November 2022. Our immediate conclusion is that they may not be isolated, but we leave this determination to the security agencies who are investigating the incidents.
“Secondly, the spate of attacks during electioneering campaigns by political parties is increasing rather than decreasing.
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“While the damage in the attack in Ede South was minimal, that of Abeokuta South was extensive. Materials destroyed include 904 ballot boxes, 29 voting cubicles, 8 electric power generators, 57 election bags, 30 megaphones, 65,699 uncollected Permanent Voters’ Cards PVCs and a host of other assorted items such as stamps and stamp pads.
“The Commission is taking urgent steps to repair the damage to the building and replace the facilities in the Ede South Local Government Area so that the office becomes functional again immediately.
“For Abeokuta South Local Government Area office, the destruction was total. Consequently, the Commission is relocating our staff to the old State office (also known as INEC Office Annex) in Oke-Ilewo area of Abeokuta. All activities involving the 15 Registration Areas (Wards) and 445 Polling Units in Abeokuta South Local Government Area will henceforth be coordinated from the new location in Oke-Ilewo.
“Similarly, the Resident Electoral Commissioner REC for Ogun State has been directed to compile the Voter Identification Numbers VINs of all the 65,699 Permanent Voters Cards PVCs lost in the attack from our database and submit the record for immediate reprint. We want to assure affected registered voters in Abeokuta South that no one will be disenfranchised as a result of this dastardly act.
“Turning to the spate of physical attacks during the ongoing political campaigns and rallies, the Commission has so far tracked 50 incidents across 21 States of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory. These unhappy occurrences are coming just a little over one month into the election campaign which is scheduled to last for about five months from 28th September 2022 to 23rd February 2023 for national elections (Presidential and National Assembly) and from 12th October 2022 to 11th March 2023 for State elections (Governorship and Houses of Assembly).
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“The Commission is worried that if no urgent and decisive steps are taken, the attacks will intensify as we approach the election date. As we all know, a peaceful campaign heralds a peaceful election. We need to take decisive steps to stem the ugly trend”, Yakubu added.
He said as a body, ICCES brings together security, safety and other agencies responsible for securing the process and ensuring peaceful elections in Nigeria.
“Understandably, Nigerians expect a decisive action from ICCES. It is important that we move swiftly to apprehend perpetrators, prosecute them as required by law and reinforce security around election officials and electoral infrastructure around the country.