Fire has gutted the office of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Ohafia Local Government Area of Abia State.
INEC Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, disclosed this via a statement issued on Monday, adding that the commission held a meeting to discuss a wide range of issues, including a disturbing report from the state.
He said INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (INEC) for the State, Dr. Joseph Iloh, reported that the recently renovated office has been set ablaze.
“The incident occurred late on Sunday night, 9th May 2021. There are no casualties on the part of our staff on guard duty but the building was virtually destroyed,” the statement partly read.
“Apart from furniture items, all electoral materials and office equipment were destroyed. The matter has been reported to the police for investigation.”
The Abia REC also confirmed the ugly incident to Channels Television, adding that INEC staff with the help of a local vigilante group made efforts to put out the fire.
While noting that no life was lost, the REC appealed to security operatives to up their game and assist in protecting INEC offices.
“I do not know why the attack on the office, last week, Department of State Services(DSS) and security operatives circulate information about pending attacks on Federal government offices,” he said.
“I quickly direct all Electoral officers (EO) to disclose the information to their local government Chairmen to assist to set up a local vigilante group to guide the offices, then on Sunday night, the unknown hoodlum set the INEC prototype office ablaze.
“I am calling in the security operatives to do more and ensure the protection of lives and properties especially the INEC offices.”
The commission lamented that the latest incident in Abia State is one too many, noting that its facility has been attacked in the south-eastern state in recent times.
On December 13, 2020, the INEC office in Aba South was completely burnt down while that of Arochukwu was vandalised and ransacked in October 2020.
While describing the vandalised facilities as national assets, the electoral umpire said they must be protected.
Hence, the Commission said it would be convening an emergency meeting of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) next week to discuss this disturbing trend.
It also reassured Nigerians that all activities in relation to the ongoing expansion of voter access to Polling Units and preparations for the resumption of Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) as well as all scheduled elections will proceed as planned.