The headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission in Awka, Anambra State capital, was razed overnight by suspected hoodlums.
Suspected members of the outlawed Independent People of Biafra allegedly broke into the INEC headquarters in the state on Sunday night and set the building on fire.
The hoodlums were said to have engaged security operatives guarding the building in a gun battle before setting the office on fire.
The development comes five months to the gubernatorial election in the state.
More than 10 offices of the electoral body have razed since suspected IPOB militants launched a campaign of violence against security formations and government establishments.
Last week Wednesday, Mahmood Yakubu, INEC chairman, said the attack on the commission’s office may affect the 2023 general elections.
Yakubu stated this during an emergency meeting with Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) at the commission’s headquarters in Abuja.
He had said, “Unfortunately, this has been on the rise since the 2019 general election but has now developed into a crisis. In the last three weeks or so, three of our local government offices in Essien Udim in Akwa Ibom State, Ohafia in Abia State, and Udenu in Enugu State, have been set ablaze by unidentified persons.
“Last Sunday, 16 May, 2021, our state office in Enugu suffered yet another arson and vandalisation in which parts of the building were ransacked and several vehicles razed. And more of our facilities are being systematically targeted and attacked.
“Just last night, Tuesday, 18 May, 2021, two more offices in Ebonyi and Ezza North local government areas of Ebonyi State were burnt down. Although there were no casualties, the damage to the physical infrastructure and electoral materials was total.”
The INEC boss lamented that nothing had been salvaged from the attacks from ballot boxes and voting cubicles to generating sets and office furniture and equipment.
Yakubu had added, “The facilities of the commission are there to serve the local communities for the most fundamental aspect of democratic governance, which is elections. Therefore, targeting such important national assets and repositories of electoral materials that took time and enormous resources to procure cannot be justified.
“Replacing these facilities in the prevailing economic circumstances will indeed be a tall order, thereby adversely affecting electoral services in the same communities. These facilities are not only limited to voting but also used for other critical electoral activities such as voter registration, the coordination of stakeholder engagements and voter education and sensitisation.”