Ike Nnachi, Abakaliki
The Chairman of Izzi Local Government Area of Ebonyi State, Steve Nwamkpa, on Monday called for investigation into the fire outbreak recorded at the Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) office in the area.
Nwamkpa, who spoke on Monday, expressed displeasure over the burning down of the office located in Iboko.
The Chairman, who said some staff of the Commission have questions to answer over the incident wondered why the deployment of security personnel to the INEC office couldn’t avert the fire incident.
He wondered how the office caught fire when it was locked and security operatives were in the premises.
According to him, the INEC Staff that locked up the Commission’s office without prior notice to the security agencies posted to secure the office, has questions to answer, as to who gave him such directive.
He noted that the locking up of the office made it impossible for the Police and other responders to access the office and put out the fire.
Emenike explained that it took about an hour before security agencies and sympathizers could gain access to the office, which was already on fire.
He added that his office had ensured the mobilisation of security agencies to the Commission’s office, days before the incident occurred.
He said: “I got a distress call at about 11a.m on Sunday that INEC office in Izzi LGA was on fire. Before then, on Thursday I learnt non-sensitive materials were brought to the INEC office in Izzi and needed adequate security.
“We mobilised Ebubeagu, four mobile police men and also directed the DPO to mobilize more of his personnel. Consequently, they were mobilized for the security of that very place.
“Before the incident occurred, the INEC staff in charge of the place locked the place on Saturday. We asked him when he was apprehended, who he notified that he was locking the place because even the security couldn’t access the place.
“The INEC office is completely fenced and securely padlocked. And on Sunday by 11 a.m the place was on fire.
“INEC should give more explanation as to their role because the place was completely locked? The Staff locked up the place and left. Who carried out the attack on the INEC office? There was no gunshot, no intrusion, physical attack and the security men were seated down there.
“To me, the INEC Staff is to make explanation and clarification concerning the incident. You have to talk to the Police Commissioner because policemen were on ground when the fire incident occurred.
“The policemen and other people who came to rescue the situation couldn’t gain access to the place, because it was locked and fully secured. The gate was padlocked.
“Anybody can say anything. I want to excuse my Party, the APC from any shoddy deal. The Party is in charge of the State, the people and why will a Party with such comparative advantage want to sabotage itself? Those making such accusation are the ones that should be looked at with binocular glasses as to why they are saying so.
“Who directed that the Staff padlocked the place and leave? Is the premises not fully secured? It took almost an hour for security operatives to gain access to the INEC office.”
Police spokesperson in Ebonyi State, Chris Anyanwu, corroborated the Chairman’s claim that it was difficult for the Police to gain access to the office after a distress call was put across.
He added that the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) has commenced investigation into the matter.