Burnt offices: INEC says election will hold as scheduled in Plateau, Abia

THE Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says the election would hold as scheduled in Qua’an Pan Local Government Area (LGA) of Plateau and Isiala Ngwa South LGA of Abia, in spite of the fire disaster in its offices in the areas.

The commission gave the assurance in a statement issued by Mr Festus Okoye, INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee on Monday in Abuja.

The commission also pledged that before the election, INEC would print and make available Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVC) to registered voters whose cards were affected by the fire disaster in the two local government offices.

The first incident occurred in Isiala Ngwa South LGA office of the Commission in Abia State on Saturday, Feb. 2, while the second occurred at the Qua’an Pan LGA office of the Commission in Plateau State on Saturday, Feb. 9.

He listed some of the items destroyed in Isiala Ngwa South LGA to include 2979 PVCs and other materials.

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“At the Qua’an Pan office, items destroyed include 5987 uncollected PVCs, 380 Voting Cubicles, 755 ballot boxes, 14 generators, election forms and official stamps,” he said.

Okoye said that in view of the development, INEC has taken the following steps:

“The commission had directed the Resident Electoral Commissioner (RECs) for Plateau to open a register for all those in the affected LGA who approach the Commission to collect their PVCs within the specified period.

“The Commission will print the PVCs and make them available for collection in good time before the election.

“Reprint and deliver the PVCs of the affected registered voters in Isiala Ngwa South LGA in Abia State.

“We have made temporary arrangements for the relocation of the burnt offices of the Commission. The said offices will be ready for the conduct of the Feb. 16 and March 2, election.

“The Commission will proceed as the plan in the affected LGAs and all the burnt materials will be replaced in good time and as such will not affect the conduct of the election,” he said.

Okoye said the commission also requested that additional security measures be provided by the Nigeria Police Force to enhance security around its offices and other critical structures of the Commission, following the two fire incidence.

Okoye said the Commission had notified the Acting Inspector General of Police Mr Mohammed Adamu of the emerging trend of burning its LGA offices close to the conduct of the election.

The national commissioner said that the trend was happening at a period when the Commission was engaged in the massive movement of election-related materials nationwide.

“All relevant security agencies have been requested to arrest and bring to justice, persons or groups involved in the attacks on the offices of the Commission,” he said.

Okoye, however, said that the two fire incidents did not affect the Smart Card Readers that were presently being configured in the respective state offices of the Commission.

“The Commission wishes to assure all Nigerians that it will not succumb to the antics of arsonists whose motive might be to create fear in the minds of voters and sabotage the conduct of the 2019 general election.”

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