From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa
The Youth Initiative For Advocacy Growth and Advancement (YIAGA Africa) has raised alarm over the spate of attacks on the offices of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) across the country.
According to the organisation, the attacks does not just portends dangerous signs for Nigeria’s fragile democracy, it would also go a long way to affect the preparation for the 2023 general elections.
YIAGA Africa’s Director of Programmes, Cynthia Mbamalu, in a statement titled “Attacks on INEC Office are acts of Democratic and Economic Sabotage” said the attacks could have adverse effect on the push for electoral reforms.
‘The disturbing trend of attacks on the offices and facilities of the Independent National Electoral Commission 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,’ she said.
YIAGA, while expressing sympathy with INEC on the incidents which it said would affect election planning, deployment of personnel and materials, called on security agencies to rise up and ensure the culprits are apprehended.
The statement read in part:
‘It is even more worrying that there has been barely any arrest made in connection with these heinous crimes. We are afraid that, if these incessant arson on election facilities are not checked, this will affect Nigeria’s plan for the 2023 general elections. 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.
‘There is no gain reiterating the crucial role the election management body plays in consolidating the nation’s democracy. Thus the need to protect the commission, its independence, its facilities and personnel remains sacrosanct.’