Some suspected arsonists have razed the office of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Igbo-Eze North Local Government Area of Enugu State, Nigeria’s South-east.
The incident happened at about 11:48 p.m. on Sunday.
The INEC spokesperson, Festus Okoye, disclosed this in a statement on Monday.
Mr Okoye said the Resident Electoral Commissioner in Enugu State, Emeka Ononamadu, reported the incident to the commission.
He said the arsonists overpowered security guards at the facility and forced their way into the premises before setting the facility ablaze.
“Although no casualties were reported, 748 ballot boxes, 240 voting cubicles, office furniture and equipment were destroyed in spite of the best efforts of the Enugu State Fire Service deployed from Nsukka,” Mr Okoye said.
The INEC spokesperson said the commission was working to ascertain the status of voter registration machines for the on-going continuous Voter Registration exercise as well as uncollected Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) which were locked up in the fireproof cabinet at the commission’s office.
He said the incident has been reported to the police for investigation and further action.
Mr Okoye said it was worrisome that the attack was coming in the middle of voter registration exercises and preparations for the 2023 general elections.
He recalled that gunmen, in May 2021, attacked the commission’s office in Igbo-Eze South Local Government Area of the state, near the council area where the latest attack occurred.
Within the same month, the commission’s office at Udenu Council Area of the state and its headquarters in the state, were also attacked by gunmen, he said.
He, however, said the commission had “substantially” recovered from the previous attacks and resumed normal activities in those areas before the latest incident.
“The commission will continue to work with security agencies and the emergency services to protect our facilities,” Mr Okoye added.
Security in Nigeria’s South-east has deteriorated lately with attacks by armed persons reported almost on a daily basis across the region.
Anambra State has witnessed some of the worst attacks in the region. The attacks often target security agencies, government officials and facilities.
The Nigerian government has accused outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra of being responsible for the deadly attacks in the region. But the group has repeatedly denied their involvement in the attacks.
The separatist group is leading agitation for an independent state of Biafra to be carved out from the South-east and some parts of the South-south Nigeria.