Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, says the arsonists razing the commission’s offices across the country won’t stop the conduct of the 2023 general elections.
Yakubu, who spoke on Tuesday in Abeokuta, Ogun State capital, during his assessment tour of the INEC office razed by hoodlums, described the arsonists as “undemocratic and retrogressive elements.”
Unknown persons had on November 10 burnt down INEC office at Iyana Mortuary, Abeokuta South Local Government Area, destroying over 65,000 uncollected Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs).
Also recently, suspected arsonists had attacked INEC offices in Osun and Ebonyi States.
INEC chairman, while addressing newsmen, vowed that the electoral body would not be discouraged by acts of arson, disclosing that five INEC offices were attacked in the last four months across the country.
He, however, assured Nigerians that efforts had reached top gear towards replacing the materials lost to the inferno.
Yakibu said, “The purpose of our visit to this office is to further access the extent of damage, to meet our own staff, particularly in the place where they have relocated to in Oke-Ilewo, to boost their morale and to assure the people of Abeokuta South that in spite of this unfortunate incident, elections will hold in Abeokuta South in 2023.
“Whatever materials we have lost, the commission is making efforts to replace the materials. We lost 65,699 PVCs, we want to assure all those that have not collected their PVCs who may have been affected that we are making plans to reprint the PVCs quickly and to bring them back to Abeokuta South for people to collect and vote.
“We want to assure the people of Abeokuta South that this incident, terrible as it is will not deter and will not discourage us, will not discourage our staff from conducting the 2023 general elections and we want to once again assure the people of Abeokuta South, the people of Ogun State and the people of Nigeria that the commission is determined to make the 2023 elections our best ever, we will not be deterred, we cowed by act of arson by undemocratic and retrogressive elements.
“As soon we get the VIN numbers to be harvested by the State office, we will reprint, it doesn’t take longer than two days to print 65,000 PVCs, but we have to get the Voter Identification Numbers for the cards that were lost so that we can quickly reprint. It doesn’t take longer than two days to reprints those number of PVCs.
“It is very disappointing, particularly because in that last four months five of our offices were attacked nationwide, but this will never deter us, we will make sure that we replace burnt and destroyed equipment and also reprint the PVCs and conduct elections.”
He added that INEC “is determined to make 2023 elections the best ever.”