By Harry Awurumibe, Editor, Abuja Bureau
Regrettably, the spate of fire incidents involving the facilities of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in some states of the Federation has persisted with burning of yet another local government office in Enugu State.
This time around, the Commission’s local office in Obollo-Afor near the state capital, where the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for the State, Emeka Ononamadu, has reported that the INEC office in Udenu Local Government Area was set ablaze.
This sad news was contained in a press statement signed by Barrister Festus Okoye, National Commissioner & Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, which was made available to journalists on Friday in Abuja.
According to Okoye the latest tragic incident occurred around 8.40pm on Thursday May 13, 2021, no casualties were reported. However, the office building was extensively damaged while electoral materials and office equipment were destroyed in spite of the best efforts of the Enugu State Fire Service to contain the inferno.
He said the Commission appreciates the intervention of the Fire Service while the attention of the Police has been drawn to this yet another very worrisome development for investigation.
Said he: “This is the third incident involving INEC’s Local Government offices in three States in less than two weeks. First, there was the destruction of the office in Essien Udim LGA of Akwa Ibom State on 2nd May 2021. This was followed by the fire at the Ohafia LGA office in Abia State on 9th May 2021.
“This is yet another setback to the Commission’s ongoing activities and preparations for upcoming electoral activities.
“Following the attack in Abia State, the Commission resolved to convene an emergency meeting of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) next week to discuss this disturbing trend. The latest destruction of the Commission’s physical infrastructure and electoral facilities in Enugu State calls for an immediate review of the measures necessary to secure INEC’s assets across the States.
“Consequently, the Commission is convening an emergency meeting with all the Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) on Wednesday 19th May 2021 in Abuja ahead of the meeting of ICCES”, Okoye revealed.
Meanwhile, the Commission said it is determined to continue to discharge its responsibilities, including the conclusion of the expansion of voters’ access to Polling Units, resumption of the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR), capacity-building activities, the review of the draft Strategic Plan 2022-2026, engagement with stakeholders as well as all scheduled and pending elections.