Some vital documents have been destroyed in the fire incident which gutted the Independent National Electoral Commission’s office in Abuja.
But the commission, which said preliminary investigations had commenced, told chairmen and leaders of political parties not to be worried as most of the documents relating to the activities of political parties had already been moved to a different office.
“The critical documents relating to our activities with political parties were not affected because they had been moved out even before this particular incident.
“So the damage was very minimal and the documents we lost were just files and duplicate copies of some correspondences and so there is no cause for alarm,” the INEC National Commissioner and chairman of its Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, said.
He told journalists after inspecting the burnt office that the fire, which started between 11 and 11:30 am at the Department of Election and Party Monitoring, was caused by an electrical fault.
He said, “Every national commissioner in INEC has the manifestos, constitution and every other thing relating to political parties. I am telling you that most of the documents relating to the monitoring of political parties had already been moved from this office because the director is also relocating to a different office. So, they had been moved out before this fire incident.
“The documents you find here are documents that are just correspondences, but the main documents are properly secured. Almost every document we have in EPM, we also have them also in the Legal Department.
“We don’t have any serious challenge with just what happened. But there has been damage to public property, computers, photocopiers and critical instruments we use to work. But in terms of losing documents, there is no cause for alarm.”
Okoye also gave details of how the fire incident started, saying preliminary investigations had commenced.
He said, “Some of our critical staff were in the office and noticed that fire started from the office of the Director of Election and Party Monitoring. They rushed in and called the Fire Service. Our own internal Fire Service was here, they responded and personnel of the Federal Fire Service also responded and they were able to successfully put off the fire.
“You can see that the fire didn’t take place at the INEC Headquarters. The INEC Headquarters is intact, it is just an office adjacent to our Media Centre outside the big INEC Headquarters. We have gone there and we’ve seen what the issues are.’’
“The personnel of the Federal Fire Service were here, they have done some preliminary investigations.