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We may fail to conduct 2023 polls if attacks on our offices persist – INEC

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says the attacks on some of its offices are disturbing early preparations for the 2023 general election.

Over the past weeks, some INEC offices have witnessed a spate of attacks, leading to the destruction of some sensitive and non-sensitive materials.

Speaking on the development in an interview with Channels Television on Monday, Festus Okoye, INEC’s spokesperson, said the attacks are making a negative impact on the commission’s activities.

Okoye noted that the commission has lost sensitive and non-sensitive materials, including generators and card readers.

He explained that the commission may have to rent apartments to replace the burnt local government offices, but expressed concern that the disposition of the landlords of such places could affect the outcome of the election.

“In relation to some of these attacks and their implications, you know at the local government level, the electoral officers serve more or less as managing-directors of our elections,” he said.

“We do not conduct elections at our INEC headquarters. It is at the base level that these elections are conducted. You also know that we just finished verification relating to expansion of voters’ access to the polling units. It was at the various local government offices that these were coordinated. They coordinated the geo-referencing of the old and new polling units.

“If you attack our local government offices, you are attacking our capacity and capability of conducting elections.

“So, when you displace the commission, the implication is that the commission may have to go and look for a rented house and when the commission goes to look for a rented office, you don’t know the political disposition and inclination of the landlords of that office. You may just come out on election day and find out that your offices are locked and there’s absolutely nothing you will do about it.

“We are worried that our preparations are being distracted and distorted. We are also worried because some of our officers are now living in fear in relation to what is going on.

“There is no doubt whatsoever that what is going on is unacceptable, and it’s going to divert the attention of the commission from early preparations for the 2023 elections and for the off season elections that we’re organising.”