Armed ViolenceNews

‘Gunmen’ Responsible For Almost A Third Of INEC Office Attacks Since 2019

The trend of attacks outside of the election period has raised concerns about safety for voters in the future.

About 27 per cent of all the attacks suffered by offices of Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) since the 2019 general elections were carried out by “unknown gunmen and hoodlums,” the commission has revealed.

In a statistical report shared on Thursday, INEC stated that its facilities have been attacked a total of 41 times between 2019 and so far in 2021.

The incidents took place in 14 states of the country including Abia, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Bayelsa, Borno, Cross River, Ebonyi, Enugu, Imo, Kaduna, Lagos, Ondo, Osun, and Taraba.

“These are attacks as a result of election-related violence, protests unrelated to elections and activities of thugs and unknown gunmen/hoodlums,” INEC clarified in the report. 

“The list does not include damages to facilities as a result of fire accidents, natural disasters such as flooding or rain/wind storms, the snatching/destruction of electoral materials during elections, burglary and attack on election duty officials.”

Source: INEC Nigeria

Most of the violent incidents (18) happened during the wave of anti-police brutality demonstrations that swept across the country in late 2020.

Six of the attacks were due to election period thuggery, four were due to post-election violence, and one attack each were orchestrated by bandits and Boko Haram terrorists.

While nine attacks were recorded in 2019 mostly due to thuggery and post-election violence, 21 incidents were recorded in 2020, and 11 in 2021. The attacks included arson (18), vandalisation of properties (20), and a mix of both (3).

Notably, all of the attacks so far in 2021 except one that took place in Kaduna’s Giwa Local Government Area were attributed to unknown gunmen/hoodlums. These took place in less than a month, between May 2 and May 23.

The release of the report coincided with an emergency meeting held in Abuja between INEC and heads of security agencies on Thursday.

The trend of attacks by hoodlums outside of the period of or after elections has raised concerns about safety for voters and the voting process in the future. Coupled with growing terrorism in the Northeast and Northwest regions, ungovernable areas appear to be spreading, which could lead to the disenfranchisement of millions of Nigerians.

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'Kunle Adebajo

Head of Investigations at HumAngle. ‘Kunle covers conflict alongside its many intricacies and fallouts. He also writes about disinformation, the environment, and human rights. He's won a couple of journalism awards, including the 2021 Wole Soyinka Award for Investigative Journalism, the 2022 African Fact-checking Award, and the 2023 Michael Elliott Award for Excellence in African Storytelling.

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