By Peter Okolie
Gunmen on Monday attacked the headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Owerri and set part of the office complex and some vehicles in the compound ablaze.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) learnt that the incident occurred in the early hours of Monday.
It was further learnt that three of the suspected gunmen were gunned down by the police operatives on duty, while two others were arrested.
Gov. Hope Uzodimma, who visited the scene, expressed concern over the attack, saying that it was “politically motivated”. The burnt INEC’s office in Imo
Uzodimma said: “What is happening in Imo is politically contrived. Some people, who think they can win election, yet don’t want election, how will they then win?
“INEC does not need this distraction at this point and stage of our elections. INEC should be supported by all and sundry. But contrary to that, we see people creating distractions here and there by attacking innocent people.
He commended the police for resisting the assailants.
According to him, “this is a demonstration of the preparedness by the police for the 2023 General Elections.”
The governor also assured residents of a peaceful Christmas celebration, in spite of the distractions.
“I urge the people of the state to turn out to collect their Permanent Voter Cards because the card is key to the elections we are looking forward to. If you don’t have your voter card, you will not be able to vote,” he said.
Also, the state Commissioner of Police, Mr Mohammed Barde, said the gunmen were repelled by a reinforced team, who were on patrol.
“Immediately they got to the Control Roundabout, the gunmen threw dynamite into our vehicle and were able to kill two of our men,” Barde said. A car razed at INEC’s office
He further said that the gunmen also threw petrol bombs and dynamites into the INEC office which razed part of the buildings.
“But because of the firing power from my men, the gunmen were unable to escape with one of their Lexus Jeep. We gave them a hot chase and were able to neutralise three of them,” he said.
He said that three AK-47 rifles, three pump action guns with some of the Improvised Explosive Devices and four of their vehicles were recovered by his men.
“We were also able to arrest two of them with bullet wounds,” the state police boss said.
The state Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mrs Silvia Agu, said parts of the Media Unit, Election and Political Party Monitoring and Liaison Office, Accounts Office, vehicles and window glasses were destroyed.
Agu said that the attack would not deter the commission from conducting credible elections in the state.