In less than two weeks, a third office of the Independent National Electoral Commission in Awka, the Anambra State capital, was engulfed in flames on Tuesday.
Loads of materials for the presidential and National Assembly elections scheduled for February 16, 2019, were affected by the inferno, which occurred at the INEC office near the Dr. Alex Ekwueme Square in Awka.
Card readers and other sensitive materials for the elections were razed during the incident.
The cause of the fire has not been determined as officials of the fire service are still trying to put out the fire.
Two INEC offices in Plateau and Abia states had been affected have been razed over the past few days.
The commission had called for improved security and the Inspector General of Police ordered tight security around INEC offices across the nation.
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The Nigerian Army has warned that it would deal decisively with any political thugs that disrupt activities at polling centres during Saturday’s rescheduled general elections in the Niger Delta.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, the Deputy Director Army Public Relations Colonel Aminu Iliyasu, said the warning follows information made available to the headquarters, 6 Division of the Nigerian Army, of a plan to perpetrate crime in some areas in the Niger Delta region.
Iliyasu said, “Credible intelligence available to Headquarters 6 Division Nigerian Army (NA) has uncovered an unholy plan by some political actors within its Area of Responsibility (AOR) to arm and sponsor miscreants in addition to using military-like fatigue dress for deception to cause pandemonium at polling stations for their political gain.”
According to him, “covert efforts are on-going to track the source of the weapons and the agents involved in conjunction with sister security agencies”.
The army spokesperson further stated that anyone found disrupting the electoral process would be dealt with according to the law.
While assuring the people of adequate security for the people of the Niger Delta region during and after the elections, the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 6 Division, Maj. Gen Jamil Sarham, thanked the people for what he described as their cooperation and assistance to the Division, particularly in the area of information dissemination.
The warning from the army follows President Muhammadu Buhari’s order to security agencies to “deal ruthlessly” with ballot box snatchers during the general elections.
The order which the President on Monday said he gave, has triggered outrage among Nigerians, especially from the leading opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party, which has described the comments as insensitive.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has denied the report that one of its national commissioners was arrested by security operatives.
INEC Chairman, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, faulted the claim during a briefing on measures put in place by INEC towards conducting credible elections after the polls were shifted.
“No Commissioner of the Commission was picked up by any security agency,” he said in response to a question on the report on Tuesday in Abuja.
“No house of any Commissioner of INEC was raided,” Professor Yakubu added. “No any Commissioner of INEC has been picked up by the security agency.”
The INEC boss disclosed that the commissioner whose name was being circulated in the social media was in his office at the time when he gave the briefing.
He also condemned the report that six directors were picked up by security operatives, stressing that nothing of such happened.
Professor Yakubu further cautioned politicians against speaking in a manner that would overheat the polity and political atmosphere.
Earlier, he offered his regrets over the postponement of the elections and assured Nigerians that the electoral body under his leadership was working towards conducting credible elections.
As part of measures to ensure that the polls were conducted on the rescheduled dates, the INEC boss revealed that all materials including ballot papers and result sheets were already at the expected locations across the country.
He also said Registration Area Centres (RATs) for the elections would be activated by 9:00am on Friday across the nation.
Professor Yakubu, however, warned officials of the commission and ad-hoc staff against going late to their duty posts.
“Personnel and materials should be at the RATs by mid-day on Friday,” he said.
“Personnel and materials must arrive at the polling units latest 7:00am on Saturday 23 February 2019, and the opening of polls nationwide will take place at 8:00 in the morning on Saturday 23 February 2019.”
The Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, says the military has no role to play in the conduct of elections.
He said this on Tuesday during the party’s NEC meeting in Abuja, while responding to comments made by President Muhammadu Buhari’s on the snatching of ballot boxes.
Speaking at the APC caucus meeting on Monday, the President had ordered security agencies to “deal ruthlessly” with anyone who attempts to snatch ballot box during the rescheduled general elections.
Atiku, however, believes that the president’s order is a result of his desperation to remain in power.
He, therefore, adviced President Buhari that his ambitions should not be worth the blood of any Nigerian, while also reminding the military that their duty remains to protect the nation.
Atiku said, “You will recall that during the Peace Accord process, I stated in clear terms, quoting form former president Jonathan Goodluck, that my ambition is not worth the blood of any Nigerian.
“That man is a great man.
“Today I call on President Buhari to make that same commitment to the people whose mandate he holds, while also urging all security agencies to uphold our Constitution with an understanding that voting is a civil activity and civic responsibility.
“The Nigerian military is constitutionally responsible for protecting our territorial integrity and national borders and has no role to play in the conduct of elections.”