The Media Centre of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) headquarters in Abuja on Friday was gutted by fire. Supreme learnt that the fire incident at the media centre, which is located within the commission’s headquarters, but not within its main building, started at around 11:30 a.m.
INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye while confirming the incident, said that the fire started around 11:30a.m, adding that the main building was intact. Okoye, speaking with newsmen at the office where the incident happened, said that the commission’s critical staff who were on duty noticed the fire and alerted fire officers. “Some of our critical staff were in the office.
They noticed that the fire started from the office of Director of Election and Party Monitoring (EPM) and they called the fire service. “Our own internal fire service here responded and people from Federal Fire service also responded and they were able to put out the fire. “We have gone there and seen the damages. We lost some of our photocopiers, computers, documents relating to political parties activities. But these are mostly correspondences, manifestos and parties constitutions and files relating to political parties.
The critical documents relating to our activities with political parties were not affected because they had been moved out even before this incidence. The damage was very minimal and the documents we lost are just files and duplicates copies of some correspondences. So there is no cause for alarm, he said.
Okoye said that officers from the Federal Fire Service have done some preliminary investigations, which may have to do with electrical issue. He disclosed that just on Thursday the Secretary to the commission issued a circular and directive to all INEC offices including that of the Abuja to making sure that all the commission offices were safe. He said that Some of the commission’s critical staff on duty went around to ensure that light in offices where there was no staff were put off.
Okoye assured that there was no cause for alarm with documents lost to the inferno. Every national commissioner has the manifesto and constitution and every other thing relating to political parties. I am telling you that most of the documents relating to our monitoring activities of political parties have already been moved to another office because the director is also relocating to different office before this fire incident. So, the documents you find here are just correspondences, but the main documents are properly secured. Almost the documents here are also in the legal office, so we don’t have serious challenges. But with what has just happened, there have been damages to public property, our computers and some of the instruments we use to work, but there is no cause for alarm, Okoye said.
The Commanding Officer Fire Service, in charge of FCT, Mr Braimoh Momoh, said that the investigation on the cause of the fire was still ongoing. Momoh said they were informed about the incident and they they quickly deployed firemen, who brought the situation under control. The level of damage is minimal due to action of firemen on ground, who were able to bring it under control. If not, the damages would have been so grievous, Momoh said.