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Fire Guts INEC Warehouse In Abuja

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inec3The Independent National Electoral Commission’s Electoral Institute in Abuja has been gutted by fire.
The fire which began at about 11pm on Saturday destroyed bags, envelopes, election forms and electrical control panel/ switch in the institute’s warehouse before it was contained at 2am on Sunday.
Before INEC spoke on the incident, there was apprehension, especially in Abuja on Sunday that some sensitive materials for the March 28 and April 11 general elections might have been affected by the inferno.
INEC described the items damaged by the fire as “non-sensitive and old materials” used for the 2011 elections.
The result of the 2011 presidential poll was announced within the compound of the institute, which is located along the Airport Road, Abuja.
The electoral body also ruled out political sabotage and assured Nigerians that the incident would not in any way affect the conduct of the forthcoming elections.

INEC Director of Security, Mr. Shettima Ngilladar, who conducted journalists around the affected area, said there was a power surge which caused the electrical panel/ switch to go up in flames.
He explained that no materials for the general elections were in the warehouse as of the time of the fire as they had been moved to all the states of the federation.
Ngilladar said, “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.”

Disclosing that security agencies had already started investigating the incident, the commisson’s security director, said he could not state the financial loss recorded by INEC.
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.”
On the likelihood of political sabotage, he said, “Whether it is too long or too early, there is no political motive about it. It was was caused by power surge.”

INEC’s Deputy Director, Electoral Logistics, Ken Ukeagu, also said sensitive materials required for general elections had been moved to the states.
He added, “Whatever we have here are old stocks of the materials. You know the normal process of disposing materials take a little while. But these materials here are not useful for 2015 elections. Even if these were materials that would have been used, there is no way it would affect the elections.

“All materials required for the election have been moved to the state, there is no way anything happening here will affect the elections.”
INEC Commissioner in Charge of Electoral Logistics, Mohammed Hammanga, who was also at the institute to inspect the damage, 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.
Like Ngilladar and Ukeagu, the Chief Press Secretary to the chairman of the commission, Kayode Idowu, said the damaged items would not affect the general elections.

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