By Taofeek LAWAL, Abuja
The Headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was gutted by fire on Friday.
Global Upfront Newspaper (GUN) was told that it was the office of the Director in charge of Election and Party Monitoring Committee (EPM) that was gutted by fire, contrary to the claim that it was the Media Centre that was gutted by fire.
National Commissioner and chairman of Information and Voter Education of the Commission, mr Festus Okoye, confirmed that the main building of the electoral commission is at the right and the Media Department is just beside the office of the Director in charge of Election and Party Monitoring, which was engulfed in flames.
Mr Okoye said most critical documents and equipment were salvaged by the Commission’s standby Fire Service with the assistance of the men of the Federal Fire Service (FFS).
“Most of the things that were damaged were furniture, air-conditioning, photocopiers, computers and some critical equipment that we moved from that particular office (EPM). We also lost some constitution and manifesto of political parties and files belonging to political parties. This is because most of the critical documents relating to our interaction with political parties had already been moved out of that particular office because the director of EPM was relocating to a different office and then the remaining documents were secured in key cabinets that were not touched by the fire at all.
“And so, in terms of our interaction and operations with political parties, there is nothing lost. This is because some of the manifestos and constitution are also in different offices. Some of the key files that were gutted by fire are also in the Legal Department and in the Operations Department of the Commission,” Okoye explained.
Commenting on how the fire was contained, Okoye said INEC Fire Service who were on ground were joined by the men of the FFS.
According to him, “There is a fully-equipped fire service within the Commission (premises). What they did, they started putting out the fire and then the officers from the Federal Fire Service moved in and assisted them with their equipment. And they were able to put off the fire as quickly as possible.
“But they are going to give us the assessment and also preliminary report of their own assessment and what transpired and we are going to use the assessment and their report to beef up security within the Commission and also make provision for other eventuality and other emergency that are not envisaged.”
Global Upfront Newspapers recall that INEC Headquarters is the third federal government’s agency to be on fire.
First was the office of the Treasury House, Garki on April 8, 2020 which houses the office of the Accountant General of the Federation, followed by the Corporate Affairs Commission, Maitama, on April 15, 2020, coincidentally along the same location with INEC Headquarters.
Maitama District plays host to several government buildings and the fire incident being witnessed recently is giving Nigerians a lot of concern.