- Call For Investigation
- As Governor Akeredolu Sympathises With INEC
Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in Ondo State, Mr. Eyitayo Jegede, and his Zenith Labour Party (ZLP) counterpart, Hon. Agboola Ajayi have expressed deep concerns over the mysterious fire that gutted the state office of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Akure, late Thursday.
The state’s guber election will hold on October 10.
The New Diplomat had reported that over 5,100 card readers stored in a container were burnt at the INEC’s office.
Jegede, while reacting to the inferno through his campaign organization said; “We cannot rule out a foul play in the mystery fire that completely razed down the state INEC office; now, our fate is in the hands of God.”
Also, the campaign accused, the All Progressives Congress candidate, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of harvesting pin codes from PVCs through a recently launched loan program in the state.
The spokesperson of the PDP’s campaign, Mr. Samuel Fasua, in the statement said, “For a while now, our main rival in this race has been in the eye of the storm over accusation that it was using loan assistance decoy to collect the pin codes in the Permanent Voter Cards (PVC) of drivers, artisans and other professionals across the state.
“Telephone SMS was sent to them through the Ondo State Entrepreneurship Agency, that they should submit the code numbers on their PVCs latest September 2, 2020; that the state government wanted to grant them loans to boost their businesses.
“Here were loans that our people did not get for three and half years that the All Progressives Congress (APC) administration has been in power; but now, the party is trying to use a loan offer as a decoy to pervert the inalienable right of the people to elect the candidate of their choice.
“Now, shortly after the collection of innocent people’s PVCs through the backdoor, came the shocking news that the INEC office had been razed by fire and that over 5000 card readers had been burnt.
“We smell a rat in all of this, knowing that the next scene in what looks like a drama of the absurd may lead to steps that can tinker with the authentic INEC voters’ list, with yesterday’s fire incident as alibi.”
The candidate called on the National Chairman of the INEC, Mr Mahmood Yakubu, “to, as the ultimate umpire in the electoral body, order a thorough probe of the suspicious fire incident, and bring its perpetrators to book.
Jegede also appealed to the INEC boss “to cause the authentic voters’ lists for the state, as respectively available in all the INEC local council offices and at the national headquarters in Abuja, to be publicly displayed.
He also called on “the Nigeria Police and other security agencies to rise up to the test of integrity thrown up by the INEC fire incident and conduct sweeping investigations, to unveil likely perpetrators of the act, and their sponsors”.
The governorship candidate of the ZLP and Ondo deputy governor, Ajayi has raised his eyebrows, saying it’s a ploy to subvert the wish of the electorate in the forthcoming election.
Ajayi queried “why did the fire target the store where card readers meant for the election were kept?
Ajayi in a statement issued by his chief Press Secretary, Babatope Okeowo said:”The question that readily comes to the minds of reasonable citizens is why did the fire target the store where card readers meant for the election were kept?
“The law enforcement agencies should ask if the intention of those responsible for inferno is to seek the postponement of the election or the cancellation of the use of card readers for accreditation.
“The people of Ondo State are waiting patiently for the outcome of the investigation as they will not tolerate any ploy by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to subvert the wish of the electorate.
The statement added that “the Deputy Governor of Ondo State, H. E Alfred Agboola Ajayi views the fire incident that gutted the office of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) with grave concern.
“The fire incident coming barely four weeks before the governorship election fixed for October 10, 2020, should worry every responsible and reasonable citizen of Ondo State.
“The Deputy Governor calls for the investigation of the fire incident and brings those culpable to face the wrath of the law.”
Meanwhile, Governor Akeredolu who paid an unscheduled visit to the INEC office in Akure has sympathised with the Commission over the mysterious fire.
The Governor said it was not only an unfortunate incident but equally shocking especially when the governorship election in the state is at the corner.
He charged the commission to unravel the cause of the fire incident.
“As you promised us that by the grace of God the election will still be held on that day, that is soothingly, but it will come at a cost to INEC for it to replace all those card readers in due time.
“We sympathise with you and we want INEC to know that the people of this state are really concerned and are with you at this point in time in this calamitous situation.
“We are with you and whatever you think we can do that will not be termed as being partisan because whatever we do now could be misinterpreted since we are in an election period, but no doubt we have to come as government and not as contestants.
“I can see the determination from how you spoke that the election will still hold on the 10th of October, we are so sorry about this,” Akeredolu said.