Usman Baba, theGeneral of Police (IGP) says politicians and secessionist groups are responsible for attacks on the offices of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) across the country.
Speaking at the commencement of an investigative hearing held by the Ad-hoc Committee of the House of Representatives set up to investigate attacks on INEC offices and facilities, Baba who was represented by the Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG), Operations, Dandaura Mustapha, attributed the attacks to the clandestine activities of some politicians and secessionist groups in the South-East and South-West.
“When INEC finally lifted on campaigns, the campaigns commenced and what we realized initially was inter and intra party dispute. We realized that members of political parties were destroying billboards, posters and campaign offices in some states. We quickly alerted the Commissioner of Police in charge of the Commands and gave them a clear directive that it is the right of every political party to go to all nooks and crannies of society and campaign.
“What we discovered is what we all know in this country, it is a well known fact that in the South-East geopolitical zone we have issues of secessionists, the IPOB and ESN. These groups are bent on stopping elections from taking place in the South-East.
“In the South-West, we equally have the pro-Yoruba secessionists that are equally bent on succeeding and not allowing the election to take place in their areas hence the attack on INEC in Osun and Ogun of recent. Those ones are there too, sponsored by politicians and other stakeholders.
“There is also an issue of failed and desperate politicians who are bent on stopping INEC from conducting this election. The failed politicians are those who could not come back through any political parties and as far as they are concerned let everything scatter. They are using that opportunity to sponsor illiterate followers of the party and hoodlums to make sure that this general election does not hold and should not be successful.”
He also said that all the security agencies held a meeting on December 13, where operational officers discussed measures to be taken to safeguard INEC facilities.
In his speech, the INEC Chairman Mahmood Yakubu noted that the attacks on the Commission’s facilities have affected preparations for the election.
“The attacks have far-reaching implications on preparations for the general election. First, the facilities that are destroyed, especially offices will take time to rebuild. They are not like items of procurement that you can procure off the shelf. So an alternative arrangement has to be made. So in some states in addition to these malicious attacks other matters that have arisen as a result of fire and flooding, we will have to make alternative arrangements by renting in some places we can find facilities to rent.
“In some of the remote areas we may not find facilities to rent, so we have to look for alternatives to the damaged facilities.”
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, while declaring the hearing open, said the House was disturbed by the attacks ahead of the 2023 general elections.
He called on all stakeholders to ensure that the menace is put in check.
“It is on this basis that the House of Representatives not only unequivocally condemned these nefarious attacks but also resolved to set up an Ad-hoc Committee to investigate the remote and immediate causes of the incessant attacks on INEC facilities.
“We are indeed hopeful that at the end of this investigation the committee would be able to come up with far-reaching recommendations that will not only bring an end to these unfortunate attacks on our democracy but also ensure that the perpetrators of the nefarious acts will be made to face the full wrath of the law,” he said.