Suspected hoodlums on Monday unleashed a spate of violent attacks on the Independent National Electoral Commission building in Owerri, Imo State and the Peoples Democratic Party campaign office in Gombe State, razing the two facilities and further heightening anxiety about the conduct of the 2023 general elections.
This was even as the Nigerian Air Force bombed terrorists’ hideouts in the three Local Government Areas of Birnin-Gwari, Igabi and Chikun of Kaduna State, killing scores of the hoodlums.
The operation, it was learnt, was aimed at clearing the areas of the criminals ahead of the forthcoming polls.
During the Monday assault on the INEC office, the police killed three of the attackers while one police officer died and another one sustained injuries.
Reports has it that this was the third attack on the commission’s facilities in the state in less than two weeks.
Unknown persons had earlier attacked the electoral body’s facilities in the Orlu Local Government Area on December 1 and in the Oru West LGA on December 4.
Suspected hoodlums had similarly torched the commission’s offices in Ebonyi, Osun and Ogun states within the past few weeks, sparking fears that some people were plotting to derail the conduct of the 2023 elections.
The spokesperson for the Imo State Police Command, Michael Abattam, who spoke at the command headquarters in Owerri, where the lifeless bodies of the hoodlums were paraded, said five rifles, two vehicles, charms, locally-made bombs, phones and money were recovered from the slain gunmen.
He also confirmed the death of a cop and the injuries to another operative.
Abattam said, “They (gunmen) attacked the INEC headquarters in Owerri around 3am. They threw bombs at the roof of the INEC building but unfortunately for them, they were resisted by our men who were guarding the place. They came in four vehicles and were fully armed.”
“While they engaged our men on the ground we reinforced. Noticing that we were stronger, they ran away abandoning one of their vehicles. We gave them a hot chase towards Onitsha Road. Fortunately, we neutralised three of them.”
“Others escaped with bullet wound injuries. Unfortunately, one of our men paid the supreme price. Another one was injured. We recovered two vehicles. We also recovered five rifles, charms, locally-made explosives, phones, money and other exhibits.”
Briefing the Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodinma, at the police headquarters, the state Commissioner of Police, Muhammed Berde, said three of the attackers were killed while two were caught alive.