Police have killed three gunmen and arrested two others who were among the gang that attacked the headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Imo State.
Reports say a number of gunmen had in the early hours of Monday attacked the INEC office located along Owerri Port Harcourt road in the state.
The State police public relations officer, Michael Abattam, who confirmed this to journalists, said the assailants started shooting at the facility as early as 03:00am.
According to him, the gunmen threw locally-made bombs through the commission’s fence, destroying several offices and vehicles parked on the premises.
Mr Abattam said the police on duty at the INEC office repelled the attackers, killing three of the gunmen who were wearing charms and Biafra camouflages.
He added that vehicles, guns and communication gadgets were recovered from the attackers.
The Commissioner of Police in charge of the Command, Mr Mohammed Barde while speaking on the attack said the gunmen who went in their numbers attacked and killed two policemen on duty at Control Post Owerri before proceeding to the INEC office.
Radio Nigeria correspondent reports that the police engaged the hoodlums in a gun duel that lasted more than one hour thereby causing panic among residents of the area.
CP Barde said the hoodlums who came in four vehicles after a fierce gun battle with a combined team of security personnel flee abandoning one of their vehicles after some of them sustained fatal injuries.
The State Governor Chief Hope Uzodimma who visited the INEC office for an on-the-spot assessment commended security agencies for their gallantry and assured residents of the state of adequate security.
The INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner in the state Professor Sylvia Agu said the commission was yet to ascertain the extent of the damage.
Meanwhile, the police had after displaying dangerous weapons allegedly recovered from the hoodlums said the command was on the trail of other fleeing members of the gang.
INEC expresses concern
The Independent National Electoral Commission INEC has again expressed concern over the attack on INEC headquarters in Imo State.
A statement by INEC National Commissioner and Chairman Information and Voter Education Committee, Mr Festus Okoye says INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for Imo State, Professor Sylvia Uchenna Agu, reported that the State Headquarters office in Owerri was attacked by unknown gunmen.
According to the statement, the incident occurred at about 3.00 am early this morning.
It indicates that 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.
It explains that the response of the security and emergency services (the Fire Service) curtailed further damage to the building and other assets of the Commission.
It further explains that no critical election materials were destroyed and there were also no casualties involving staff of the Commission.
It added that 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 and Oru West LGA office on the first of this month.
Imo State INEC office 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.
Reporting by Chinazo Ilechukwu and Ogochukwu Okoronkwo; Editing by Abdullahi Lamino