The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) office in Ibesikpo Asutan Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State has been gutted by fire, one day to the governorship and house of assembly elections in the state.
Backstory: The cause of the fire remains unknown, however, a security guard on duty at the INEC office reported that the fire started around 2 a.m. on Friday morning.
“We heard an explosion inside the building, when we rushed to check what it was, we saw flames of fire coming from one of the rooms,” the guard said. “We raised alarm for help, and then we started fighting the fire, using water and sand. But it was too much for us.”
It has been reported that several card readers meant for use during Saturday’s elections have been destroyed by the fire.
The Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Mike Igini, is said to have visited the scene to ascertain the extent of the damage.
Tension abounds in Akwa Ibom over Saturday’s elections. While the state governor, Udom Emmanuel, has assured the people of their safety and security during the elections, there is widespread fear that supporters of the two main political parties, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC), will clash.
Emmanuel, who is contesting for a second term as governor has Nsima Ekere of the APC as his main challenger.
Bottom Line: Prior to the presidential election last month, similar cases of arson at INEC offices around the country contributed to the postponement of the polls. Incidents like this will continue as long as the culprits of the acts are never apprehended.