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2023: Rights Group Wants NSA Monguno Replaced, Demands Holistic Measures To End Attack On INEC Offices

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Prominent civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), on Sunday, asked President Muhammadu Buhari to sack and replace his National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno and replace him with a more competent hand to forestall more attacks by hoodlums on offices of the Independent National Electoral Commission ahead of the 2023 general elections.

HURIWA’s National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, in a statement, also said it is most crucial for the Federal Government to set up a joint national security task force to protect INEC facilities from saboteurs bent on instigating political instability.

The group said attacks on INEC facilities is a serious attack on our democracy as a country and should be treated seriously with utmost urgency and strictness that it deserves.

HURIWA further condemned the twin attacks on INEC offices in Ogun and Osun states on Thursday where unscrupulous elements burnt the offices and destroyed 65,699 uncollected Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs), 904 ballot boxes, 29 voting cubicles, 30 megaphones, 57 election bags, and eight electric power generators.

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The group described as worrisome and concerning the rising and unending attacks on INEC offices, especially as the 2023 general elections approaches, decrying the helplessness of security agencies including the Nigeria Police Force and the Prisons whose formations and posts have also been hard hit by determined criminals.

According to reports, INEC has recorded about 50 attacks on its offices and staff in three years since after the 2019 general elections. Tens of thousands of smart card readers, ballot boxes, and voting cubicles, among other assets were lost to the attacks in over 14 states, with the South-East being the worst hit.

Also, more than 1,149 persons, including INEC employees and security officers were killed in the three elections held in 2011, 2015 and 2019. The electoral body had lost assets estimated at billions of naira to violence carried out by thugs and other hired hoodlums.

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Similarly, a media Investigation showed that more than 127 police officers, soldiers and other security personnel were killed, and 25 police stations were attacked in the South-East and South-South between January and May 2021.

About 15 jailbreaks have also been recorded in the last seven years under Buhari with over 4,000 fleeing inmates out there, causing more harm and yet to be arrested.

The July 5, 2022 attack by terrorists on Kuje prison in Abuja is just one of the many serial jailbreaks by insurgents.

Commenting, HURIWA’s Onwubiko said, “The spate of attacks on INEC offices under President Muhammadu Buhari is worrisome, especially the unending attacks on electoral offices just months to the 2023 general elections.

“Scores of police stations and prison formations have also been attacked and burnt with hundreds of security agents gruesomely killed by the so-called ‘unknown gunmen’.

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“The perpetual and recurring attacks on the state architecture and the symbol of democracy have showed the incapacity of security agencies to protect themselves let alone protect these vital national assets.

“With a few months to the 2023 general elections, it is important that the President drops his National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno and appoint a more competent replacement who should set up a joint national security task force made up of strong and professionally trained special forces drawn from all arms of the armed forces and police to protect INEC facilities from saboteurs bent on instigating political instability.

“The President must adopt a holistic measure to stem the tide of attacks targeting these strategic national security and election-related institutions. Attacks on INEC should be deemed a serious attack on our democracy. Not enough efforts have been made to combat these coordinated and widening spectres of terrorism targeting INEC”, the rights group said.