Nigeria’s electoral body, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has suspended the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise in a local government in Enugu State, Southeast Nigeria, following an attack on its officials.
Festus Okoye, the INEC spokesperson, said in a statement on Thursday, July 14, that officials of the commission were attacked by an armed gang on Wednesday, July 13, at a community primary school in Umuozzi Ward 19 of Igboeze North Local Government Area of the state.
Okoye said no casualties were recorded during the attack but added that a staff member of the commission sustained different degrees of injuries due to the attack.
INEC also lost two registration machines, while staff involved in the attack lost personal properties.
It was not immediately clear those who carried out the attack.
“The gunmen fired sporadically into the air to disperse registrants and registration officials. In the ensuing stampede, one of our staff sustained injuries and is receiving treatment in a hospital,” he said in the document.
“However, two voter registration machines and personal items of the staff such as mobile phones were lost. Consequently, Ward level registration of voters in Igboeze North is now suspended.”
He also said the Nigeria Police had been informed about the attack for investigation and further action.
HumAngle understands that the latest attack was the second on the INEC office in the Igboeze North LGA of Enugu State in July. The first occurred on July 3, when the assailants destroyed 748 ballot boxes, 240 voting cubicles, office furniture and equipment.
HumAngle had also reported how attacks on INEC facilities deprive residents of voter registration opportunities. Like Enugu, other states in the Southeast and South-south have recorded several attacks.
INEC said that at least 41 of its offices were attacked by armed non-state actors between Feb. 2019 and May 2021. Regarding the cases, Mahmood Yakubu, the INEC chairman, said Imo State topped the list with the most attacks.
“Clearly, these acts of unjustifiable aggression may undermine the commission’s capacity to organise elections and dent the nation’s electoral process. The commission facilities are there to serve the local communities for the most fundamental aspect of democratic governance, which is elections,” Yakubu said.
The trend, however, did not stop after the INEC boss’s outcry.
The current attacks imply that many affected community residents are denied access to CVR as Nigeria prepares for its next general elections.
INEC itself confirmed this in its Election Project Plan (EPP) released in May, where it stresses that physical attacks, kidnapping of its personnel for ransom, and arson attacks on its offices and facilities would affect the registration of voters.
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