THE SECRETARIAT of the Independent National Electoral Commission, situated near Dr. Alex Ekwueme Square in Awka, Anambra State, has been damaged by a fire outbreak on Tuesday afternoon, as workers fled their offices.
The fire, according to reports, erupted inside and engulfed a container which housed card readers as well as other electoral materials. Shortly after, firefighters, assisted by security operatives and members of the Nigeria Police, arrived at the scene to put out the blaze.
The card readers stored in the containers were designated for use in the presidential and National Assembly elections slated for Saturday, February 16.
This is the third fire outbreak, in a spate of two weeks, to affect INEC offices, the first two razing offices in Abia State and Plateau State on February 2 and 9 respectively.
In a statement released on Sunday, the commission revealed that 8,966 Permanent Voters’ Card were destroyed in the two incidents, alongside 380 voting cubicles, 755 ballot boxes, 14 generators, electoral forms, and stamps.
Festus Okoye, INEC National Commissioner and chairman of its Information and Voter Education Committee, had said the Inspector General of Police has been officially notified about the trend and assured that the damaged materials would be replaced before the day of the election.
“The commission will proceed as planned in the affected LGA and all the burnt materials will be replaced in good time and as such will not affect the conduct of the elections. All relevant security agencies have been requested to arrest and bring to justice, persons or groups involved in the attacks on the offices of the commission,” the statement read.
It is unclear yet whether the causes of the accident are premeditated. Calls placed to Rotimi Lawrence Oyekanmi, chief press secretary to the INEC chairman, for comment were not answered at the time of filing this report.
'Kunle works with The ICIR as an investigative reporter and fact-checker. You can shoot him an email via firstname.lastname@example.org or, if you're feeling particularly generous, follow him on Twitter @KunleBajo.