An official of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Imo has been shot dead in Ihitte Uboma LGA of the state. According to a statement issued on Thursday by Festus Okoye, chairman of INEC’s information and voter education committee, the incident was reported by Emeka Ezeonu, Imo resident electoral commissioner (REC).
Two other INEC officials have been declared missing following the attack which occurred on Thursday.
As a result of the development, the commission said it has suspended the continuous voter registration (CVR) exercise in the LGA.
“The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has suspended the Continuous Voter Registration Exercise (CVR) exercise in Ihitte Uboma Local Government Area of Imo State,” the statement reads.
“This is sequel to a report by the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Professor Emeka Ezeonu, to the effect that today, 14th of April 2022, Mr. Nwokorie Anthony, a staff of the Imo State office of the Commission involved in the ongoing CVR exercise, was shot dead by unknown gunmen at Nkwo Ihitte (PU 004) in Amakohia Ward (RA 02) of Ihitte Uboma Local Government Area.
“The REC further reported that the state office is making efforts to locate the whereabouts of the two remaining staff involved in the registration exercise.
“Prior to this incident, the Commission had suspended the CVR in Orsu and Njaba Local Government Areas of the state on account of insecurity, while the exercise is taking place only at the INEC LGA office in Oru East, Oru West, Orlu and Ohaji-Egbema Local Government Areas of the state.”
The commission condoled with the family of the deceased official, adding that security agencies have been informed of the development.
INEC also urged the president-generals of the various town unions in the state and other critical stakeholders to ensure that the security of staff members of the commission is prioritised.
“The safety and security of staff is of paramount importance to the Commission, particularly with the devolution of the voter registration exercise beyond our State and Local Government Area offices nation in our determination to serve Nigerians better,” Okoye added.
The development comes months after a series of attacks on INEC offices across the country, especially in the south-east.
As of May 2021, the commission had recorded 41 attacks on its offices since the conclusion of the 2019 elections.