It is just days before the general elections in Nigeria on February 16 and the recent times have witnessed the Independent National Electoral Commission see a number of their offices in different locations razed by fire – the latest came in Anambra State on Tuesday afternoon where almost 5,000 card readers were damaged in a fire at a INEC office there. Now, the Coalition of United Political Parties has claimed that the fire outbreaks being recorded in the offices of the Independent National Electoral Commission in some parts of the country were targeted at places recognised as areas of strength of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The coalition’s spokesman, Imo Ugochinyere, said this in a statement made available to journalists in Abuja. Ugochinyere claimed that some unnamed members of the ruling All Progressives Congress, supported by some security agents, were behind the fires. He alleged that the plan is to ensure that elections are declared inconclusive in PDP areas of strength and reruns held on a separate day so that security agents can be deployed to intimidate opposition members.
He claimed that more offices of the Commission were still being targeted. He said: “Opposition political parties have noted with concerns that members of the ruling All Progressives Congress, being aided by unscrupulous security agents, have been busy burning election materials in offices of the Independent National Electoral Commission in parts of the country they recognise as areas of strength of the opposition.”
Ugochinyere added: “The latest fire that erupted in INEC office in Anambra State was meant to stop election in that area in order to deny the Peoples Democratic Party of victory. We have it on good authority that they are planning to burn down more INEC offices and materials so that election can be declared inconclusive in the affected areas and therefore weaken the opposition.”
He went on to claim PDP plans to ensure the election results are declared inconclusive: “Part of their strategy is to make elections inconclusive in the affected places and hold rerun elections on separate days so that they can use security agents against opposition members. Why is it that military and policemen attached to these offices cannot stop these wicked people from burning down these offices if they are not part of the plan? We are aware that they are planning to carry out similar act in Rivers, Kwara, Adamawa and some local governments in Kano.”
The CUPP spokesman concluded with these demands on behalf of the party: “The opposition hereby demands that elections be conducted manually in areas where election materials have been burnt. We also ask that security agencies should rise up to their responsibilities and secure all INEC offices and election materials nationwide. We plead with the international community to continue to note these acts of desperation by the ruling party.”
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