Barely 24 hours to the crucial governorship and house of assembly elections across the country, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) office in Ibesikpo Asutan Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State was in the early hours of yesterday reportedly gutted by fire. The cause of the fire remains unknown for now.
A security guard who was on duty at the INEC office was quoted to have said the fire started around 2 a.m. on Friday. “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, adding, “We raised alarm for help, and then we started fighting the fire, using water and sand. But it was too much for us.”
A section of the building still smoldered and election materials apparently evacuated from the burnt building, were scattered around the premises, as at noon yesterday.
Several card readers meant for use in the Saturday’s elections were destroyed by the fire. It however remains unclear if the incident would affect the conduct of the elections. The Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Mike Igini, was said to have visited the scene to ascertain the extent of the damage.
A handful of police officers were seen barricading the road leading to the INEC office as at 9 a.m on Friday.