Suspected hoodlums on Monday unleashed series of violent attacks on the Independent National Electoral Commission building in Owerri, Imo State and the People’s Democratic Party campaign office in Gombe State, razing the two facilities.
This was even as the Nigerian Air Force bombed terrorists’ hideouts in the three Local Government Areas of Birnin-Gwari, Igabi and Chikun of Kaduna State, killing scores of hoodlums.
It was learnt that the operation, was aimed at clearing the areas of the criminals ahead of the forthcoming polls.
During the Monday assault on the INEC office, the police killed three of the attackers while one police officer died and another sustained injuries.
this was the third attack on the commission’s facilities in the state in less than two weeks.
Unknown persons had earlier attacked the electoral body’s facilities in Orlu Local Government Area on December 1 and in the Oru West LGA on December 4.
Suspected hoodlums had similarly torched the commission’s offices in Ebonyi, Osun and Ogun states within the past few weeks, sparking fears that some people were plotting to derail the conduct of the 2023 elections.
The spokesperson for the Imo State Police Command, Michael Abattam, who spoke at the command headquarters in Owerri, where the lifeless bodies of the hoodlums were paraded, said five rifles, two vehicles, charms, locally-made bombs, phones and money were recovered from the slain gunmen.
He also confirmed the death of a cop and injuries to another operative.
Abattam said, the gunmen attacked the INEC headquarters in Owerri around 3am and threw bombs at the roof of the INEC building but unfortunately for the hoodlums they were resisted by police who were guarding the place.
He added that While the hoodlums engaged the policemen on the ground, the police reinforced.
While Reacting to the development, governor of Imo state Hope Uzodinma declared that the development proved that the insecurity in the state was politically contrived.
The governor, who accused unnamed politicians of heightening insecurity in the state, said he was happy that the security agents were able to overpower the criminals.
According to him, some politicians in the state wished to win elections without going through the electioneering processes and it is further proof that the insecurity in Imo State is politically contrived.
Bemoaning the serial violence against its offices, INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, described the incident as yet another systematic attack targeted at the commission’s assets.
Okoye also noted that the incident happened on the day of the commencement of Permanent Voter Cards collection by registered voters ahead of the 2023 general elections.
Meanwhile, suspected thugs have set ablaze a campaign office of the governorship candidate of the PDP in Gombe State, Mohammed Barde.
The office was reportedly attacked on Monday morning.
The state police commissioner, Mahid Abubakar, confirmed the attack, adding that investigations were underway.
denouncing the attack, the Deputy Director-General of media, Atiku/Barde Campaign Council, Junaidu Abubakar, said several properties were destroyed, adding that members of the All Progressives Congress were to blame.
The council said Barde had on different occasions rejected violence and political thuggery, stressing the need to engage the resourceful Gombe youths in meaningful pursuits.