Fire outbreak at INEC: No cause for alarm ― Okoye

•Damage minimal ― Abuja Fire Service

The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC on Friday has its own share of the seemingly pervasive fire outbreak in State-owned buildings at the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja amidst the national lockdown to contain coronavirus pandemic.

Last week, the Capital Unit of the Treasury House where the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation is located was gutted by fire.

A similar incident occurred during the week at the Corporate Affairs Commission building, located in the highbrow Maitama District of the FCT.

The fire outbreak at INEC which was quelled by the combined efforts of the Fire Service men and staff of the Commission started from the office of the Director of Election and Party Monitoring while it razed the Media Centre within the sprawling complex.

The main building was however not affected.

INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, told newsmen that power surge from electrical appliances was responsible.

Okoye said vital documents were not affected since the fire could not spread to the main building due to the timely intervention of the Commission fire servicemen before the arrival of the Federal Fire Service officials.

He said: “Some of our critical staff are in the office and noticed that fire had started from the office of the Director of Election and Party Monitoring.

“They rushed off and alerted the fire service but our own internal firemen had responded before the arrival of the Federal Fire Service and they were able to put off the fire.

“It started around 11 am or 11.30 am and you could see that it did not get to the main building of the headquarters.

“It is intact. We lost some of our photocopiers and computers and documents relating to political party activities but they are mostly correspondences and constitutions and manifestos and files relating to political parties. The critical documents relating to our activities with the political parties were not affected because they have been moved out even before the incident. There is no cause for alarm.”

Also speaking with newsmen, an officer in charge of Fire Service, FCT Command, Braimoh Mommoh, spoke in a similar vein as he noted that prompt response of his men ensured that the damage was minimal.

He said: “Before we got here, our men that are on the ground had started fighting the fire and we joined to quickly bring the situation under control. We had deployed six fire trucks as well as an ambulance but good enough no casualty was recorded.

“I can tell you that the level of damage is so minimal and small. “However, by the time you take it at the roof level, you will be thinking that the situation is so grievous, but it was because of the PVC used for the ceiling. I can confirm to you that the level of damage is so small. “The firemen were able to respond on time here to ensure that they save the situation otherwise the whole of the complex would have been razed.”

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Okoye in a statement said the investigation into the cause of the incident has since commenced.

The statement read in part:” At 11.30am today, 17th April 2020, a fire outbreak occurred at a section of the building housing the Election and Party Monitoring Department and the Media Centre. The building is an annex, detached from the main building of the Independent National Electoral Commission’s headquarters.

“Fire-fighters attached to the Commission swiftly responded to contain the inferno and they were later joined by their colleagues from the Federal Fire Service headquarters in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). The fire was extinguished within a short period of time and did not cause any substantial damage to the building.

Apart from some office furniture and equipment, nothing sensitive was destroyed. Reports of party primaries and conventions are intact. The campaign finance database is also not affected. The incident will therefore not affect the administrative or technical operations of the Commission in any way.

“Meanwhile, the investigation into the cause(s) of the fire incident has commenced.”

NIGERIAN TRIBUNE

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