There are growing concerns that the general elections in 2023 may be seriously jeopardized, particularly in the country's south-eastern region.
This is especially true given that there have been an increasing number of attacks on INEC offices and facilities as the general elections get closer.
In a recent Monday attack on the INEC office in Owerri, Imo State, four people were killed, including a police officer, according to HIT UP TV.
Only a week had passed since unidentified gunmen in the same State attacked the INEC office in the Oru West Local Government Area.
The facilities of the commission have experienced an unprecedented eight attacks over the past four months.
Although there have been attacks on the commission's offices all over the nation, it is clear that the INEC has turned into a top target in the South-eastern States, which has caused concerns about the upcoming general elections in the region.
The proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra have been blamed for the majority of attacks on INEC facilities in the South-east (IPOB).
IPOB, however, has consistently denied being involved in the attacks.
Enugu State saw a peak in attacks on INEC offices in 2021.
Recall that on May 13 and May 23, respectively, unidentified gunmen/hoodlums attacked and vandalized the INEC offices in Udenu and Igboeze South LGAs.
Once more, unidentified individuals set fire to the INEC office in the State's Awgu Local Government Area in September 2021.
The commission's office was recently destroyed in July 2022 in the State's Igbo-Eze North Local Government Area by some suspected arsonists.
Around May of last year, two INEC offices in Ebonyi State were set on fire by armed robbers. The offices were situated in the State's local government areas of Izzi and Ezza North, respectively.
The INEC office in the Ebonyi LGA office of the State was also destroyed by unidentified gunmen within the same month.
In November 2022, there was another assault on the commission's office in the State's Izzi Local Government Area.
Attacks on INEC offices across the nation have largely occurred in Imo State.
The Commission's state headquarters in Owerri was attacked again on Monday, making it three times in the previous 12 days.
The attack was attributed by Imo State Governor Hope Uzodinma to unpopular politicians who are worried about losing elections.
Following earlier attacks on INEC offices at the Orlu and Oru West LGA offices on December 1 and 4, 2022, respectively, the incident occurred.
Recall that an INEC building was also burned down in the State in May 2021. The assault on its Ahiazu Mbaise LGA office that same month is not included.
But Professor Mahmood Yakubu, the chairman of INEC, lamented that the electoral body had lost so many of its facilities at a meeting with stakeholders in Lagos last week. He was troubled by the ongoing attacks on its offices and facilities across the nation, which could harm the conduct of the 2023 general elections.
"Five of our offices have been attacked, buildings have been damaged, and materials have been destroyed across the nation in the last four months.
We lost over 1990 ballot boxes, 399 voting cubicles, 24 generators, quite a few PVCs (65,699 in one incident), among other things, and that is worrying for us.
"These attacks must stop, and the offenders must be brought to justice. We have an obligation to conduct elections, and I want to reassure Nigerians that we will bounce back from these attacks and replace any lost equipment.
To stop the attacks, we will keep collaborating with security organizations, traditional and community leaders, and well-meaning Nigerians. But the best course of action is to detain and charge the offenders," he said.
Hon. Malachy Okey Onyechi, a chieftain of the Labour Party, LP, in Enugu State, spoke to DAILY POST about the matter and bemoaned the ugly trend, saying it poses a serious threat to the country's democracy.
In the upcoming general election, Hon. Onyechi, who is also the party's State House of Assembly candidate for the Nsukka West Constituency, urged the security agencies to increase security around INEC offices and facilities, particularly in the Southeast region.
It seems to me to be very dangerous, he said. It is a sign that some politicians are determined to use any means necessary to undermine our democracy and secure their victory. They are the ones responsible for all of these evil deeds.
"In the most recent incident, which took place in Imo State, you may have heard the governor of that state, Hope Uzodimma, accuse politicians of being responsible for the hoodlums' vandalism of INEC offices.
It will undoubtedly have an impact on INEC's and the federal government's plan to ensure a free, fair, and credible election because I think some politicians who want to stifle democracy are behind it.
"However, all we are saying is that we are pleading with the security organizations to increase security in the area around INEC offices and facilities.
"I commend the security agencies for capturing those responsible for carrying out the heinous act at the Imo state INEC office. They were able to find the offenders.
"I believe the threats being posed by these hoodlums will be averted early enough, and we will have a smooth and free election," the speaker said, appealing to other security agencies in various States to step up to the challenge.