5,000 Card Readers Destroyed as Fire Guts Ondo INEC Office

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SWITZERLAND, SEPTEMBER 11 – Spokesman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Festus Okoye says election in Ondo State will proceed despite the setback caused by the fire incident which destroyed more than 5000 card readers on Thursday night, a month before the gubernatorial election in the state.

The cause of the inferno was unknown as of the time of filing this report. The fire also destroyed some items in a section of the office.

The Chief Press Secretary to the INEC chairman, Rotimi Oyekanmi, confirmed the incident in a short statement titled ‘Fire at INEC office in Akure’.

He noted that the commission would commence an immediate investigation into the cause of the fire.

He said, “Fire broke out today (Thursday) September 10, 2020, at the Ondo State Head Office of the Independent National Electoral Commission in Akure.

“The inferno, which gutted the container housing Smart Card Readers, started at 7.30 pm. Men of the Fire Service are however currently containing the fire.

Mr Okoye, who was in Akure for preparations for the governorship election scheduled for October 10, told newsmen that the inferno would not affect the conduct of the polls.

He said card readers would be collected from other states which are not conducting elections.

“This is just one state election. What we are going to do is to mop up smart card readers from other states and use them for the conduct of the election while investigating what happened,” he said.

“The cost of 5,141 smart card readers is so much, but we are not going to dwell on that now.

“What we are going to dwell on is to mop up smart card readers from other states that are not conducting elections and use them to conduct Ondo governorship election.

“We will dwell on other issues regarding the configuration of the card readers.”

Fire incidents at INEC offices close to election day are becoming commonplace as about 4,695 smart card readers were destroyed by fire that razed INEC facilities at its headquarters in Awka, Anambra in February 2019 barely four days to the general elections.

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