Unknown persons suspected to be political thugs have set the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) office at Orlu Council, in Imo State, ablaze.
The incident, which happened in the wee hours of yesterday, caused serious panic and confusion in the state, as residents of the area scampered for safety. The fire, which lasted several hours without intervention from firemen, caused serious havoc and affected the nearby Orlu Council Secretariat.
It destroyed the commission’s sensitive documents and property worth millions of naira. Confirming the incident, the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of INEC in the state, Emmanuella Oparah, said the inferno completely razed the entire edifice.
Describing the incident as very unfortunate, she disclosed that the commission reported the incident to the necessary quarters, including the police, for onward investigations. Police spokesperson in the state, Orlando Ikeokwu, said that the Commissioner of Police, Bolaji Fafowora, had ordered an investigation into the incident.
He added, “I can confirm the incident to you, but the cause of the fire outbreak is unknown for now. The Commissioner of Police has dispatched the operatives to the scene of the incident with the view of ascertaining the root of the fire.”
The incident came barely a week after suspected political thugs invaded the same office and stopped the collation of the supplementary election in Orlu/Orsu/Oru East federal constituency after tearing the result sheets.
Meanwhile, Anglican bishops of the Owerri Ecclesiastical Province have decried the “worsening security situation in the country”, and urged the Federal Government to proffer urgent remedy.
This is contained in a statement jointly signed by the Archbishop of Owerri Province, Caleb Maduoma; and that of Okigwe South Diocese, David Onuoha, to newsmen after their first annual Episcopal Synod at the Chapel of the Holy Spirit, Bishops Court, Ife, Ezinihitte-Mbaise Council of Imo at the weekend.
The cleric lamented that though President Muhammadu Buhari had expressed surprise over the unhealthy development, “yet he has failed to see the need to overhaul the security apparatus for better results.”
They insisted that the safety of Nigerians should be placed high above every other consideration in the country.“Unless there is more to this than meets the eye, the Federal Government should be bold and swift to confront these merchants of death masquerading either as Boko Haram or herdsmen,” they noted.
The bishops also described the Supreme Court judgment, which ousted Emeka Ihedioha from office as Imo governor and replaced him with Hope Uzodinma as an act of human error.
However, they admonished the people to remain calm and to shun every temptation of taking the laws into their hands or to indulge in any activity that could worsen the economic, political and security situation in the state.
Expressing optimism that God would cause all concerned to restore justice on the matter in the overall interest of the people, the country’s judiciary and the country, the prelates said, “We are aware of the frustration, suppressed anger, disappointment, and regrets which the people have had to contend with since the Supreme Court judgment of January 14.
“We must bear in mind that as mortal beings, we are by nature not perfect and that is why we are prone to human errors, notwithstanding the height one has attained in one’s calling or in the society. “We are encouraged by the interest this matter has generated both within and outside the country and we hope that justice will prevail in the long run.”
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