One unfortunate feature of Nigerian elections that has refused to go away is violence in varying forms. It’s the kind of baggage no one wants, but everyone has to deal with it because some people still treat elections as do-or-die.
What’s happened now?
On November 27, 2022, unknown people set fire to the office of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Izzi Local Government Area of Ebonyi State. The incident happened around 10 a.m.
Did anyone get hurt?
Fortunately, no one was hurt in the attack. But INEC lost some materials, including:
- Unknown number of Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVC)
- 340 ballot boxes
- 130 voting cubicles
- 14 electric power generators
- Large water storage tanks
- Office furniture
We’ve seen this before
On November 10, 2022, arsonists attacked INEC offices in Abeokuta South, Ogun State and Ede South, Osun State. You can’t help but notice the sad trend in these events.
Over the past three years, similar attacks have occurred in different parts of the country: Abia, Rivers, Anambra, and Imo. According to the INEC chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, about 50 INEC offices have been attacked by arsonists in 21 states.
What does this mean for the 2023 elections?
The electoral process is sabotaged
One of the critical things needed for a free and fair election is the availability of important things like PVCs and ballot boxes. The attack on the INEC office in Abeokuta South destroyed 65,699 uncollected PVCs. This creates a problem for INEC to reproduce new cards which we can’t say always works out. If those PVCs aren’t replaced it would deny some Nigerians their rights to vote.
Attacks on INEC offices are designed to heighten tensions and keep voters away from polling units because they seem unsafe. Nigeria already has a big issue with low turnout of voters and apathy caused by threat of violence will only make it worse. After all, who wants to be an unwilling martyr?
Hopefully, the Nigerian security forces will take appropriate measures to secure INEC offices better and find a way to arrest the criminals. The fate of the country being decided at the polls depends on it.