There was pandemonium yesterday 07/01/2013 at the Maitama, Abuja headquaters of the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC) following a fire outbreak at the premises.
The incident which occurred at 9:30 am, completely razed the office
of the Director of Voter Registry at the Information Communication
Technology (ICT). Nobody was injured. Other departments and offices were
spared, but they were covered, for several hours, by thick smoke ,
causing the staff to wander within the premises. Combined efforts from
the Nigerian Air Force, Federal Fire Service and the Federal Capital
Territory (FCT) Fire Service saved the day.
Addressing newsmen shortly after the fire was put out, INEC’s
Director of Public Affairs, Emmanuel Umenger, said the inferno was not
allowed to spread beyond the Voter Registry office, interestingly, he
did not explain the cause of the fire. However, he allayed fears that
the fire damaged vital documents especially the data base. Umenger said:
“As you have seen, the fire began and only ended in the office of the
Director of Voter Registry. Due to the prompt effort of staff on ground,
who alerted the relevant agencies, the fire was put out before it could
spread to other places and luckily, the voter registration data base
was not affected and the server was saved because the fire did not even
get to that section of the building”.
On the implication of the fire on the next elections, the INEC
spokesman allayed fears that it will affect arrangements for the polls.
He said “the commission is poised to give Nigerians credible, free and
fair elections at all times and this little incident will not in any way
stop that, I must assure you”.
Earlier, the Director of ICT, Chidi Nwafor, an engineer, who
conducted journalists round the affected office, said that the goods
lost to the fire were personal effects of staff, some files and
computers. He stressed that the extent of damage would soon be
Meanwhile, some staff of the affected office including the Secretary
to the Director of Voter Registry (names withheld) may have been invited
by security agents for interrogation. Confirming that no life was lost
in the incident, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) in a
statement, said that there was no casualty.
NEMA’s Head of Public Relations, Mallam Yushau Shuaib, said the cause
of the fire was not known. INEC has, since April, 2011 suffered some
fire outbreak. First was the security post and later, the waiting room
of the Chairman’s office. That was on May 24, 2011. Before that, on May
16, the Electoral Institute was torched.