Two Nigerian electoral commission offices housing voting materials were burned down within the space of a week — just a few days before the country’s presidential election, the nation’s electoral body said Sunday.
Nigeria’s Independent Electoral Electoral Commission said more than 10,000 permanent voters’ cards and 755 ballot boxes were destroyed in two fire incidents in Abia and Plateau states last week.
The INEC did not say who was responsible for the fires, but it said it had notified the Acting Inspector General of Police on the “emerging trend of burning the electoral commissions’ offices” days before the February 16 vote.
Elections will go as ahead as scheduled in the affected states, the commission said, adding that it had made arrangements to print new voter cards to replace those destroyed in the fire.
“The Commission wishes to assure Nigerians that it will not succumb to the antics of an arsonist whose motive might create fear in the minds of voters and sabotage the conduct of the 2019 general elections,” said INEC spokesman Festus Okoye.
Nigeria is in the middle of a major campaign season leading up to the presidential polls on Saturday and general elections later this month.
The lead-up to the elections has been marked by violence, prompting warnings from the UK and US governments to say they would deny visas and likely prosecute those found inciting violence during the February 16 vote.
On Sunday, President Muhammadu Buhari alleged that corrupt politicians planned to use laundered funds to buy voters during the elections.
“The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has raised concerns over laundered money being funneled into vote buying,” Buhari said in a post on Facebook.
Buhari, 76, is standing for re-election, and will be running against 71 other presidential candidates for the country’s highest office. His main challenger is Atiku Abubakar, 72, a business tycoon and former vice president.