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Group decries attacks on INEC

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YOUTH Initiative for Advocacy, Growth and Advancement (YIAGA) has condemned the wanton destruction of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), describing it as acts of democratic and economic sabotage.

 In a release signed by the Director of Programs, Cynthia Mbamalu in Abuja.  Yiaga -Africa expressed deep worry over the recent ‘coordinated and premeditated’ attacks on the facilities of the INEC, saying that these  are indeed dangerous signs for the country’s fragile democracy as it will not just affect the commission’s preparation for upcoming elections but also diminish citizens’ confidence in the electoral process.

 According to the group, “the disturbing trend of attacks on the offices and facilities of INEC is not just an act of sabotage to a critical institution established by the constitution to guarantee democratic leadership in Nigeria but an assault on democracy and credible elections. These attacks also pose a potential threat to citizens’ right to vote in an election.

 “Yiaga Africa is concerned that attack on democratic institutions is antithetical to the drive for electoral reforms. From Yiaga Africa’s recent tracking of incidents of attacks on INEC structures, at least 21 INEC offices across 10 states have been attacked, vandalised  or set ablaze within the last 24 months. The most recent being the vandalisation and burning down of INEC offices in Udenu LGA in Enugu State and in Ezza North LGA in Ebonyi State as well as Anambra State. We empathise with the commission as we can testify to the huge challenges that come with election management and deployment of materials to various polling units ahead of elections. These attacks will most likely have a negative impact on election planning, deployment  of personnel and materials and the overall cost of elections in Nigeria.

 “These sad incidents will create a financial burden on INEC and increase the cost on INEC and Nigeria by extension. In addition, it is also a source of distraction to INEC especially with the ongoing expansion of voter access to polling units and the planned commencement of the Continuous Voters Registration (CVR) across the country. It is even more worrying that there has been barely any arrest made in connection with these heinous crimes.

“Citizens are interested in an in-depth investigation into these attacks and for perpetrators to be arrested and prosecuted as a deterrent to plans for any other attack. Failure to do these will enable this culture of impunity and create a violent climate for the elections.

“Security agencies must step up an effort to protect government institutions against enemies of democracy who are bent on destroying democratic institutions. Amidst the declining security situation in the country and diminishing confidence of the citizens, this is an opportunity for Nigerian security agencies to live up to their mandate of protecting lives and properties.

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