By Christiana Ekpa
The House of Representatives has condemned all forms of attack on the offices, facilities and infrastructure of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and other Federal Government buildings in the country.
The Green chamber set up an ad-hoc committee, chaired by Oluga Taiwo (APC, Osun) to investigate the remote and immediate cause of the incessant inferno in INEC Offices in different parts of the country and report back within three weeks for further legislative action.
It also urged politicians and the police to uphold various peace accords signed by political parties and their candidates across the country, and asked the lead election security agency to avoid being partisan in the provision of security for politicians and other stakeholders.
The House’s resolutions followed amendments to a motion sponsored by Olarewaju Ibrahim Kunle which was adopted at plenary on Wednesday.
Moving the motion, Kunle said the frequent systemic arson and attacks on the personnel, offices and facilities of INEC are targeted at crippling the commission and scuttling the 2023 general elections.
He said between February 2019 and May 2021, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) reported at least 41 arsons on INEC facilities in 14 states.
The lawmaker recalled that: “On 10 November 2022 the INEC office in Abeokuta South Local Government Area of Ogun State, was set ablaze by hoodlums with not less than 65000 uncollected PVCs razed down by the fire.
“In 2019, a single PVC was estimated to cost about N170, 000. 00 which may cost more
for the commission to produce, alongside the main building, movable assets and facilities such as 904 ballot boxes, 29 voting cubicles, 30 megaphones, 57 election bags, 8 electric power generators and 65,699 uncollected PVCs which were reportedly destroyed by unidentified persons at the Abeokuta South Local Government Office.”
He expressed worry that on the same day, arsonists and thugs set ablaze the INEC building at Oke Iresi, Ede South Local Government of Osun state.
Kunle was further worried that if these systematically orchestrated attacks on personnel and facilities of INEC are not checked, the actions are capable of disrupting the 2023 general election.
He observed that:”the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) guarantees
democratic governance as the only acceptable and legitimate means of governance and democracy is
only sustained by free, fair and credible elections, hence, an attack against elections is an attack against democratic governance and perpetrators of such attacks are enemies of the country.
“Disturbed that despite the affront to democracy and the Constitution of the Nigerian State, the Nigeria
Police and other Security Agencies have been unable to arrest perpetrators of this heinous crime.”
Adopting the motion, the House urged politicians and stakeholders to admonish their supporters to refrain from attacks and violence before or during the 2023 elections.
It further asked the Nigeria Police Force, Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps and other security agencies such as the Department of State Services to synergise with the Attorney General of the Federation and the Minster of Justice to identify, investigate, arrest and prosecute the perpetrators behind the attacks.