ABUJA, NIGERIA – Nigerian political observers are expressing concern over the numerous assaults on the services of Nigeria’s electoral physique – the Impartial Nationwide Electoral Fee, or INEC. INEC officers say the fee has recorded at the very least 42 assaults on its services because the final polls in 2019.
9 assaults occurred in 2019 and 21 others passed off final yr. However within the final 4 weeks, 12 extra places of work of the fee have both been set ablaze or vandalized.
The newest incident occurred Sunday in southeastern Imo state. Poll packing containers, voting cubicles, energy mills and utility autos have been destroyed.
Election officers are evaluating the extent of the injury however say an preliminary evaluation reveals it might considerably have an effect on their capacity to conduct credible elections within the affected locations.
Political analysts like Jibrin Ibrahim, a senior fellow on the Heart for Democracy and Growth, agree that assaults on services coupled with Nigeria’s normal safety challenges and separatist calls in two areas will have an effect on polls.
“When some individuals are saying, ‘We wish out of the nation,’ others are saying let’s simply vote and maintain the nation, it turns into a troublesome context to make sure that there is a degree taking part in floor for election,” Ibrahim stated.
Officers blame unidentified armed teams and the separatist group Indigenous Individuals of Biafra, or IPOB, for the newest assaults. IPOB advocates for an impartial state in part of Nigeria that attempted to interrupt away greater than 50 years in the past.
The federal government has not commented on the assaults.
In latest months, Nigeria has seen an escalation in violence by armed felony teams, in addition to the rising profile of IPOB and one other separatist motion in southwestern Nigeria.
However political analyst and co-founder Youth Hub Africa Rotimi Olawale says insecurities can solely delay elections however not hinder them.
“I’m assured that the 2023 normal elections will maintain as scheduled. In 2019, the election was moved for a few weeks to permit for higher administration of the safety structure within the northeastern a part of Nigeria. On the very worst-case situation, I think that the elections in 2023 may additionally be moved for just a few weeks,” Olawale stated.
Final week, INEC chief Mahmood Yakubu declared assaults on election places of work a nationwide emergency and met with prime safety chiefs to deal with the issue.
At a gathering Thursday, Nigerian safety items pledged to assist the fee by beefing up safety round election places of work.
Nonetheless, skilled Ezenwa Nwagwu says the assaults are politically pushed and can doubtless escalate earlier than the following polls.
“The Nigerian political elite [is] not revolutionary. They haven’t discovered every other technique of negotiating for energy besides violence. You are going to see that in the direction of subsequent yr, there would be the escalation of this violence,” Nwagwu stated.
INEC is approaching a serious gubernatorial election, set for this November. Subsequent month, the fee will start a voter registration course of for Nigeria’s normal polls in 2023.
Consultants say the safety state of affairs will decide each turnout and the credibility of the method.