THE fire which gutted Independent National Electoral Commission’s Electoral Institute in Abuja on Saturday, 14, did not affect materials for this year’s general elections. This was disclosed by Mohammed Hammanga, INEC Commissioner in Charge of Electoral Logistics, who was also at the institute to inspect the damage done by the fire. Hammanga expressed happiness that the materials affected were old stock.
“We thank God it has not gone beyond this. We are happy that it has not destroyed the materials that will be used in the election,” he stated.
Kayode Idowu, chief press secretary to the chairman of the commission, similarly said the damaged items would not affect the general elections.
Ahead of Hammanga and Idowu’s assurance, Shettima Ngilladar, director of security of the commission, had conducted journalists around the affected area, and disclosed that the fire incident was caused by a power surge following restoration of power supply to the area after three days of power outage. The sudden surge caused the electrical panel/switch to go up in flames.
He assured that no materials for the general elections were in the warehouse as of the time of the fire incident because they had been moved to all the states of the federation. “These are non-sensitive materials that have been banned in the warehouse. You will see it yourself. It is not hidden. It is something clear, these banned non-sensitive materials have nothing to do with the elections.
“They are old materials in store that have not been evacuated. These are old stock of non-sensitive materials, like bags, envelopes, election forms which were used in the 2011 elections. They won’t be used for the 2015 elections. Everything here is non-sensitive,” Ngilladar said.
He also told the journalists that security agencies had already started investigating the incident. On the value of materials destroyed he said: “I cannot quantify the financial loss now because they are envelopes, bags and used forms for elections. So, it is not something I can say how much now.”
Corroborating Ngilladar’s statement, Ken Ukeagu, deputy director, Electoral Logistics at the commission, said sensitive materials required for general elections had been moved to the states. “All materials required for the election have been moved to the state, there is no way anything happening here will affect the elections,” Ukeagu said.
The INEC officials said it was too early to say the incident was political motivated. Before the INEC’s officials’ statements, there was apprehension, especially in Abuja on Sunday that materials for the March 28 and April 11 general elections might have been affected by the inferno.
The fire incident, which gutted the INEC institute’s warehouse started at about 11:00pm on Saturday, destroying bags, envelopes, election forms and electrical control panel/switch. It was not contained until about 2:00am on Sunday, March 15.
— Mar. 23, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT