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Plateau: Fire guts INEC office, destroys electoral materials

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Fire has razed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) office in Qua’an Pan Local Government Area of Plateau State. The INEC Head of Media, Publicity and Voters Education, Mr. Osaretin Imahiyereobo, said in a statement issued in Jos yesterday that the incident occurred on Saturday night. Imahiyereobo said the inferno had caused a serious setback to the preparations of the general elections in the local government area. He said: “A drunken security man was said to have caused the fire outbreak. The office is completely burnt with all its contents – ballot boxes, generator sets – that have been serviced and filled with fuel, cubicles, newly printed electronic and manual voters’ register, uncollected permanent voter’s cards (PVCs), materials for the preparations of RAC and other materials yet to be identified.” Imahiyereobo said the management team led by the Administrative Secretary, Gbadamasi Rasheed, had gone to the local government to assess the situation.

 

The incident came a few days to the general elections. It also came barely a week after fire gutted the INEC office at Umu-Ikaa in Isiala-Ngwa South Local Government Area of Abia State. According to residents of the area, the fire started in the middle of the night, but was noticed very early the following morning.

 

The inferno reportedly burnt thousands of uncollected Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) belonging to eligible voters in the state. One of the residents, who craved anonymity, told our correspondent that the time the fire started, which was midnight, fear did not allow those living in the area to go there to salvage the situation. The source claimed that the concentration of the fire in the rooms, which were used in storing PVCs, proved that it was sabotage. Another resident also said that the fire started from one of the rooms where PVCs were stored.

 

The source alleged that from what was seen on the ground, the PVCs that were burnt might not be less than 10,000, but said police didn’t allow the residents to move close to or touch the half burnt PVCs. The INEC Head of Public Affairs, Mr. Bamidele Oyetunji, confirmed the incident. Oyetunji, however, said investigation was left in the hands of the police who were in the best position to find out the unknown persons that carried out such an act. The Abia State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Mr. Geoffrey Ogbonna, then confirmed the fire incident. He said it was not the entire INEC building that was burnt.

 

Ogbonna said one of the rooms in the building was set ablaze through the toilet by unknown persons. He also confirmed that the room in question was being used in storing PVCs, but couldn’t state the number of burnt PVCs. A similar incident occurred in 2015 at Mgboko in Obingwa Local Government Area of the state in the heat of the governorship election.

 

NewTelegraph 

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