The gunmen had, on Thursday, attacked a polling unit where the Continuous Voter Registration Exercise was being held in Ihitte Uboma Local Government Area of Imo State, and destroyed materials being used for the exercise.
A video clip of the attack, which has now gone viral, showed the gunmen firing multiple gunshots at one of the people forced to lie down by the gunmen, believed to be the INEC official, Mr Nwokorie.
The commission has confirmed the death of the official and consequently suspended the exercise in the area.
During the attack as seen in the video clip, the gunmen mocked the officials and other people at the registration centre for conducting the exercise in preparation for elections while they (gunmen) were fighting to get their freedom from Nigeria.
But reacting, renowned Nigerian human civil rights activist and legal practitioner, Chidi Odinkalu, said the group cannot claim to be liberating anyone by attacking and killing INEC officials who are simply doing their jobs.
“Those who attack, shoot and kill @inecnigeria ad-hoc staff merely for doing their jobs cannot claim to be liberating anyone,” he posted on his Twitter handle on Friday.
“They and their supporters are selling death and destruction and deserve the strongest possible condemnation,” added Mr Odinkalu, an indigene of Orlu in Imo State.
On his part, Shehu Sani, a former Nigerian senator, described the attack as “an act of criminality.” The former lawmaker said the unfortunate incident should not “spray fears” on Nigerians, but “rather galvanise collective outrage and defiance” against the gunmen.
“The attack on the INEC registration centre and the killing of the INEC staff by those ‘terrorist gunmen’ in Imo State is condemnable,” Mr Sani tweeted.
IPOB fingered in the attack
While some Nigerians condemned the attack, others accused the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) of carrying out the attack.
A Twitter user, Demagogue (@von_Bismack), whose profile indicated he hails from Imo State wrote,” I just watched where IPOB members executed an Igbo person (in) execution style, shooting straight at him while he was lying down.”
The tweet was a reaction to the video clip of the attack where an INEC official was shot by the gunmen.
“This is an open declaration of war against my people and I have taken sides with my people,” the user added.
Another Twitter user, Austin, insisted that IPOB carried out the attack. He said although he was part of the group’s agitation, the killing of the INEC official has forced him to withdraw his involvement in the agitation.
“Did you watch the video where people lying down were shot by their fellow Igbos? IPOB my foot. I was an agitator, but after seeing that video, I won’t (remain an agitator) anymore, ” Mr Austin tweeted.
For Aku N’esi Obi Ike, another user (@Akudinanwa117), supporting IPOB was his “biggest regret.”
“I can’t believe I was once an avid fan of the terror group,” the user posted. “IPOB members are the real enemies of Ndigbo. They ought to be ostracised from the entire region.”
However, reacting to the allegation, the separatist group denied involvement in the attack on INEC officials, saying “they have no hands in the criminal act that criminals randomly carry out against our people.”
Emma Powerful, the spokesperson of the group, in a statement on Friday, regretted that “some uninformed people point accusing fingers at IPOB.”
Mr Powerful said IPOB would expose those behind the attacks in the region.
He said the group cannot afford to allow the “gunmen to terrorise” the people of the region or “demonise their peaceful organisation.”
IPOB is leading agitation for the creation of an independent state of Biafra which they want to be carved out from the South-east and some parts of South-south regions of Nigeria.
The separatist group has been accused of being responsible for the deadly attacks across the two regions, but it has repeatedly denied involvement in the attacks.
Support PREMIUM TIMES' journalism of integrity and credibility
Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.
For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.
By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
TEXT AD: Call Willie - +2348098788999