4 Killed In Attack On Another INEC Office In Southeast
Gunmen yesterday bombed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) headquarters in Owerri, the Imo State capital.
A policeman and three of the assailants died in the ensuing gunfight.
The gunmen threw grenades through the commission’s fence, destroying offices and vehicles.
The police engaged the gunmen in a shootout, leaving three of them dead………Continue Reading
It was learnt that some officers were wounded, while many of the hoodlums fled towards Onitsha with multiple bullet injuries.
Commissioner of Police in Imo, Mohammad Barde, said his men arrested two of the gunmen, adding that they were on the trail of others.
He added that the police recovered three AK47 riffles, three pump action guns and some Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) as well two vehicles from the bandits.
The police said the gunmen killed one of their men and injured another in the attack that lasted an hour and kept residents awake.
INEC said critical election materials were destroyed in the attack but none of its workers died.
National Commissioner and Chairman Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, said the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Prof Sylvia Uchenna Agu, reported the attack.
“The incident occurred at about 3.00am Monday.
“The attack affected the part of the building occupied by the Election and Party Monitoring (EPM) Department.
“One official utility vehicle (a Toyota Hilux pickup van) was burnt.
“The response of the security and emergency services (the Fire Service) curtailed further damage to the building and other assets of the Commission.
“No critical election materials were destroyed. There were also no casualties involving staff of the Commission.
“This is the third attack on the Commission’s facilities in Imo State in less than two weeks following the earlier attacks on our Orlu LGA office on December 1 and Oru West LGA office on December 4.
“Our Imo State Headquarters is located in the centre of Owerri, the State capital, between a court and the state secretariat.
“This is, therefore, yet another systematic attack targetted at the Commission’s assets across the country, more so on the day that the collection of Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) commenced nationwide ahead of the 2023 General Election.”
‘How attack occurred’
Imo Police Public Relations Officer, Michael Abbatam, a Chief Superintendent of Police, said: “We killed three of the attackers and recovered three AK47 rifles and pump action guns.
“We also recovered two explosives and three of their vehicles.”
Abattam, who later addressed reporters at the command headquarters where the bodies of the hoodlums were displayed, said five riffles, two vehicles, charms, locally made bombs, phones and money were recovered from the slain gunmen.
He said: “They threw bombs at the roof of the INEC building but unfortunately for them, they were resisted by our men who were guarding the place.
“They came in four vehicles and fully armed. While they engaged our men on the ground, we reinforced.
“Noticing that we were stronger, they ran away, abandoning one of their vehicles.
“We gave them a hot chase towards the Onitsha Road. Fortunately, we neutralised three of them.
“Others escaped with bullet wound injuries. Unfortunately one of our men paid the supreme price. Another one was injured.”
The police blamed members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) for the attack.
The slain assailants wore charms and Biafra insignia.
Abattam added: “They are suspected members of IPOB.
“It is the outcome of our investigation that will determine those that will be held complicit.
“We gave them a hot chase. The Command’s tactical teams were able to follow them and in the process, we were able to neutralise three of them.”
He added that two of the gunmen were captured alive with bullet injuries and the Command is still combing the area to apprehend other suspects.
Uzodimma decries insecurity
Governor Hope Uzodimma wondered why bandits should think of attacking the INEC office at this time the body was preparing seriously for the upcoming elections if they were not being used.
He told reporters: “We need to decode the motive behind the action and why INEC is the target.”
He said what happened and events of the past confirm what he had always said.
“What is happening in Imo State is politically contrived, and justifiably so.
“Some people think they can win an election yet they don’t want elections to hold. How then will they win?”
“INEC does not need this type of distraction at this point and stage of our elections, rather they should be supported by all and sundry.
“But contrary to that, what we now see are people creating distractions here and there and attacking innocent people.
“If now we put one and two together and recall that people have threatened that Imo State will be made ungovernable and there will be no elections in Imo, that is the attempt to achieve their purpose.”
The governor assuaged the fears of the Imo people, saying: “Since the police are prepared, and the security agencies are ready, there will be elections in Imo by the Grace of God.”
The governor also urged Imo people to go out and collect their PVCs as the state and INEC have decentralised the process.
He assured of sufficient security at the local government up to the ward levels.
Uzodimma reminded Imo people that “the collection of Voters Card is key to the elections we are looking forward to and if one doesn’t have the Voters Card he/she will not be able to vote.
“So, the government working with the security agencies will do their best to ensure that all the local government headquarters, the ward and collection centres are properly protected and sufficient security presence assured.”
He reassured Imo people returning for the Christmas celebrations of adequate security.