Barely 24 hours to the conduct of the Governorship and House of Assembly elections, suspected hoodlums have set fire on the Independent National Electoral Commission office [INEC] office in Ibesikpo/Asutan Council of Akwa Ibom State.
However, the state Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Mike Igini, the incident would not deterred the commission from carrying out its duties today, as most of the sensitive materials for the conduct of the
elections were still intact.
The REC, during on the spot assessment of the scene, acknowledged the loss of some card readers, generating sets, computers and other office equipment in the incident, but insisted: “There is no going back on the elections. Elections will hold as scheduled, no matter the plot.”
Narrating how the incident occurred, INEC Director of Public Affairs in the state, Don Etukudoh, said the fire started about 3am yesterday when an explosive device was thrown into the building, ripping the roof open and substantially damaging the walls.
He added: “We have been able to order several cards readers from the neighbouring states and we are presently configuring them in readiness for the elections.”
The Electoral Officer (EO) for Ibesikpo Asutan, Victor Inyang, said that the polls would go on as planned, as no ballot papers were destroyed by the fire, noting: “They thought the election materials were kept in the store.”
The incident, he added, would not deter the conduct of the polls in all the 177 polling units in Ibesikpo Asutan today, as other sensitive
and non-sensitive materials, except card readers, were not affected by the inferno, which was timely put out by men of the state
Confirming the incident, the state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Odiko Macdon, said that the Commissioner of Police, Ibrahim Sani Kaoje, was aware of the incident and had detailed senior Police operatives to investigate the incident.
“We are investigating to ascertain whether it was a clear case of arson and when the investigations are completed, we will let the
world know our findings and those found culpable will be made to face the law, no matter how highly placed,” he assured.
The Police spokesman added that the incident has made the Police to beef up security around all INEC offices and centres across the state.
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