Fire will not stop elections in Plateau, Abia – INEC
By Emmanuel Oloniruha
INEC has promised that elections would proceed as scheduled despite the fire incidents that destroyed its offices in Qua’an Pan Local Government of Plateau and Isiala Ngwa South Local Government Area of Abia.
The commission gave the assurance in a statement issued by Mr Festus Okoye, INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee on Sunday in Abuja.
The commission also pledged it would print and made available, Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVC), to registered voters whose cards were affected by the fire in the two local government offices.
The first incident occurred in Isiala Ngwa South Local Government office of the Commission in Abia State on Saturday Feb. 2, while the second occurred at the Qua’an Pan Local Government office of the Commission in Plateau State on Saturday Feb. 9.
He listed some of the items destroyed in Isiala Ngwa South Local Government include 2979 Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) and other materials.
“At the Qua’an Pan office, items destroyed include 5987 uncollected Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs), 380 Voting Cubicles, 755 ballot boxes, 14 generators, election forms and official stamps.”
Okoye said that in view of these developments, the Commission has taken the following steps:
“The commission had directed the Resident Electoral Commissioner (RECs) for Plateau to open a register for all those in the affected Local Government Area who approach the Commission to collect their PVCs within the specified period.
“The Commission will print the PVCs and make them available for collection in good time before the elections.
“Reprinted and delivered the Permanent Voters’ Cards of the affected registered voters in Isiala Ngwa South in Abia State.”
INEC, he said has made arrangements for the relocation of the burnt offices that the temporary offices would be ready for the conduct of the February 16 and March 2, 2019 elections.
“The Commission will proceed as planned in the affected Local Government Areas and all the burnt materials will be replaced in good time and as such will not affect the conduct of the elections.”
Okoye said that the commission also requested that additional security measures be provided by the Nigerian Police Force to enhance security around its offices and other critical structures of the Commission, following the two fire incidence.
Okoye said that the Commission had notified the acting Inspector General of Police of the emerging trend of the burning of its Local Government Offices close to the conduct of the elections.
The national commissioner said that the incidents were happening at a period when the Commission was engaged in the massive movement of election related materials nationwide.
All relevant security agencies have been requested to arrest and bring to justice, persons or groups who attacked the offices, he said.
Okoye, however, said that the two fire incidents did not affect the Smart Card Readers that were presently being configured in the respective state offices of the Commission.