Posted by Pamela Eboh, Awka | 12 February 2019 | 1,367 times
A strange fire has gutted about 6,372 card readers and other sensitive materials meant for the conduct of the 2019 general elections in Anambra State.
The incident, which took place around 2:14pm on Monday while INEC officials were still at work, became public knowledge only hours ago.
It was learnt that a meeting between the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC and political parties was going on at the Dora Akunyili Women Development Center when the inferno started without the knowledge of both the security and INEC officials.
According to an eye witness account, the card readers were kept in a container where they were apparently being charged in readiness for Saturday election when it was discovered that a section of the container was in flames.
The source added that INEC officials later went to sleep with the hope that the fire has been quelled without knowing that fire was still building up underneath.
An INEC ad-hoc staff who spoke on condition of anonymity said: “We were sent outside when the fire escalated, raising dust everywhere. We came to collect our posting letters and they told us to drive out keep our properties at safe range in case the fire gutted the entire building.”
Confirming the incident, the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) of INEC in the state, Dr. Nkwachukwu Orji, said that only smart card readers and other sensitive materials were in the burnt containers.
He explained that the burnt container had been in use by INEC since 2011.
On whether the fire incident would mar Saturday’s election in the state, Orji said they will first study the extent of damage to know the next step to take.
“We have to assess the situation before we come out to logical conclusion on materials destroyed. I don’t know if the materials were configured because I am just arriving to the office,” he said.
Though the REC had said that only smart card readers and other sensitive materials were in the burnt containers, earlier at the stakes holders meeting with political parties which was held at the Dora Akunyili Women Development Center, he had told those present that a detachment of the Police Mobile Force had already been dispatched to Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Owerri Branch, Imo State, to convey the sensitive materials to Awka ahead of the election.
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