INEC says army, others deployed to offices in Imo over attacks
Given the frequent attacks on its offices in the state, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) claimed on Friday that security personnel, including the Army and Department of State Services (DSS), have been sent to the offices in Imo State.
The Isu Local Government Area (LGA) INEC office was attacked and vandalized by youths just 24 hours earlier, making it the fourth similar event to occur in Imo in less than three weeks. Additional assaults were reported in the Orlu and Oru West LGAs, as well as at the state capital, Owerri.
Prof. Sylvia Agu, the state’s resident electoral commissioner (REC), discussed the security situation live on Friday’s episode of Sunrise Daily on Channels Television.
She said, “Security men have been deployed, stationed in those areas. At the headquarters, we have the army, the Civil Defence, and the DSS. In the various local governments, we are using vigilante groups; we are using Ebubeagu group too and we have 100 percent assurance from the security men – not just giving us the assurance, they are already on the ground.
“That particular building is one housing the election party monitoring department (EPM), security, the transport office, and some of the accounts building (sic). It’s very destructive, but we thank God because it did not affect our sensitive materials.”
Speaking on the implications of INEC’s operations in the state, Agu downplayed the severity of the attacks, noting that the commission had backups to ensure it did not suffer a significant loss of data.
“It’s really not enormous, because we have a backup for the accounts section. For the transport section, we don’t have much there. What we have there are pieces of furniture. For the EPM office, we have a backup. For all those things that got burnt, we have backups.
“For the security office, (there was) nothing serious. We are aware that we’re vulnerable and because of that, we normally create backups in case of those types of incidents, so that when it happens, we can always lay (our) hands on our backups,” she said.
The REC stated that permanent voter cards (PVCs) and other sensitive materials were not affected, adding that the distribution of PVCs was on schedule. According to her, distribution does not occur at the offices that have come under attack.
“(There has been an) overwhelming turnout. We received overwhelming reports on a daily basis because we are working round the clock. They start at 8 am and end at 3 pm, but I’ve even told them to stay till 5 pm. We even work on Saturdays and Sundays, and we have an overwhelming turnout of people coming to pick up their PVCs.
“We have vigilante groups in all those areas that are prone to attack. We have the police deployed and stationed there. You won’t notice them. We can’t tell our ideas to the public but what I know is that INEC is ready and we are working very hard round the clock to ensure that 2023 becomes a reality,” she said.