Johannesburg – Nigeria’s electoral commission (INEC) has raised its concerns over the fires that broke out at two of its local government offices over the weekend, destroying ballot boxes and other voting material only a week ahead of presidential elections, with police saying they could be a deliberate ploy to disrupt the polls.
One of the fires broke out at an INEC office in Abia State and the other in Plateau State, Festus Okoye, chairman of INEC’s Information and Voter Education Committee, wrote in a statement late on Sunday.
“At the Qua’an Pan office items destroyed include 5987 uncollected Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs), 380 Voting Cubicles, 755 ballot boxes, 14 generators, election forms and official stamps,” added Okoye.
Okoye warned that there appeared to be an emerging trend of burning local government offices of the commission at a time when the commission is engaged in the massive movement of election-related materials nationwide, the Premium Times reported.
Fearing the possible arson attacks might be deliberate INEC has taken a number of steps to ensure the poll proceeds without disruption.
These include requesting additional security measures to protect INEC offices and other critical electoral infrastructure.
INEC will also direct the Resident Electoral Commissioner for Plateau State to open a register for all those in the affected local government area who approach the commission to collect their PVCs within the specified period. The PVCs will be reprinted and delivered to the affected registered voters in Abia State.
The electoral body will make temporary arrangements for the relocation of the burnt offices of the commission which will be ready before voters go to the poll.
The commission will also proceed as planned in the affected local government areas and all the burnt materials will be replaced in good time and as such will not affect the conduct of the elections.
African News Agency (ANA)