Operatives of the Imo state Police Command have repelled attack on the headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Owerri, the Imo State capital.
Spokesperson for the State Police Command, Mike Abattam, who confirmed the incident, said the gunmen numbering over 10, attacked the facility along Port Harcourt Road in Owerri, around 3am with petrol bombs and dynamite.
Abattam said the hoodlums were confronted by security operatives who repelled the attack and killed three of the attackers while one officer was also killed.
While some parts of the building on the INEC premises were razed, Abattam said one of the attackers was arrested by the police and three vehicles used by the hoodlums were recovered
Meanwhile, gunmen enforcing the five days sit-at-home, on Monday set vehicle ablaze in some other parts of the State.
The incident has forced most residents of the State who woke up to hear most of the reports to stay indoors.
Meanwhile, reacting on Monday, INEC’s National Commissioner and Chairman of the Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, said the fresh attack which is the third on INEC’s offices in the state in the last few weeks further confirms the suspicion of a “systematic attack” on the commission ahead of the 2023 election.
“The incident occurred at about 3.00 am today Monday 12th December 2022. The attack affected the part of the building occupied by the Election and Party Monitoring (EPM) Department and 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 Thursday 1st December 2022 and Oru West LGA office on Sunday 4th December 2022.
“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 targeted at the Commission’s assets across the country, more so on the day that the collection of Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) commences nationwide ahead of the 2023 General Election”, Okoye said.
The Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodimma, addressing journalists on the attacks on Monday assured that the state would be peaceful during the Christmas and New Year celebrations.
His words: “Majority of those who came for this mission…some are lying critically ill, some were neutralized and others that flew, flew with bullet wounds and the police is ever committed and other sister security agencies are also committed.
“So, my assurance is that we will have a very peaceful environment for Christmas.
“This is a holy period, a period that the lord Jesus Christ was born. That anointing and blessing and the holiness of the period will bring peace to Imo State.
“I urge our people to come out and collect their PVCs. We have tried to decentralize our team and there will be adequate security at the local governments up to the ward level to support our people.
“I want to assure you that it will be a very peaceful exercise. Let me also urge our people that collection of voters card is key to the elections we are waiting for and if you don’t have your voters card, it won’t be possible.”