The Independent National Electoral Commission has confirmed that 4,695 Smart Card Reader was destroyed in an inferno that occurred in its office in Awka, Anambra State on Tuesday.
Festus Okoye, National Commissioner and Chairman of Information and Voter Education Committee, made the confirmation in a statement issued in Awka.
He said that there was no fatality or injury report but recalled that similar incidents had occurred in the last 12 days following closely behind those of Isiala Ngwa and Qua’an pan Local Governments offices in Abia and Plateau States respectively.
Okoye said though the incident no doubt was a setback to the commission’s preparation for the smooth conduct of the elections in Anambra State, immediate measures had been taken to ameliorate the situation.
He said the measures included the mopping up of some of the spare card readers from other states to deploy to Anambra State for the smooth conduct of the general elections on February 16 and March 2. The national commissioner said with the steps taken so far, the commission remained confident that the election in the state would proceed as scheduled.
Okoye said the incident had been reported to the police and the Fire Service, adding that investigation into the cause had commenced. He commended the Fire Service for its response, which he said prevented the spread of the fire and more damage to the commission’s property was averted
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that two containers with configured card readers and other sensitive materials for the general elections were gutted by fire at the INEC office in the state.
The fire, which source remained unknown, started around 2:14pm, razing the entire containers before the arrival of operatives of the Anambra State Fire Service.
An eyewitness, who spoke in anonymity, said the fire started at a portion and was put off only to double and escalate to other places. NAN reports that many of the ad-hoc staff of the commission were at the INEC complex to collect their posting letters when the incident.