In recent weeks, the offices of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) have come under attack in the country, especially the South East region. Offices, premises, vehicles and other operational facilities of INEC have been targets of bandits recently. On Tuesday, May 18, INEC’s offices in Ebonyi and Ezza North Local Government Areas of Ebonyi State were attacked and properties destroyed. In Enugu State, two attacks on INEC’s offices resulted in burning of some parts of the office and the burning of operational vehicles of the Commission. Earlier reports of burning of INEC offices have been from Imo, Akwa Ibom and Abia States. It is unclear who is responsible for these attacks on INEC’s offices and national assets and what the motive for it may be. What is clear is that should this trend continue, it could spread throughout the country with possible dire consequences for the effective conduct of Nigeria’s next general elections scheduled to hold in February 2023. While some point fingers to specific localised agitation groups, conspiracy theorists appear to have gone to town with a wider speculation on who stands to benefit from the situation. What is clear however, is that every effort must be made to halt the slide and the threat that the attacks represent for Nigeria’s democracy.
Meanwhile, INEC has been implementing its expansion of voter access to polling units exercise across the country in the past weeks. This entails the conversion of voting points to polling units and ensuring that polling units are properly situated. The Commission had also announced that it would resume Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) on June 28. However, in its press statements following some of the fire incidents at its offices, INEC expressed determination to go ahead with discharging its responsibilities, including the voter registration exercise and pending elections. The Commission also called a meeting of its Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) on Wednesday, May 19, ahead of a scheduled emergency meeting of the Inter-Consultative Council on Election Security (ICCES).