Bamigbola Gbolagunte, Akure
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ondo State and its governorship candidate, Mr Eyitayo Jegede have called on the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. mahmud Yakubu to probe the Thursday’s fire that razed a section of the INEC state headquarters in Akure.
This is even as the party and its gubernatorial candidate alleged that there was foul play in the inferno.
Both Jegede and the PDP alleged that the fire incident was a ploy to rig the October 10 governorship election and cautioned INEC against any attempt to rig.
The party in a statement by its publicity secretary, Mr. Kennedy Peretei, said it received with disappointment, the news that the fire that gutted the state INEC headquarters on Thursday night consumed a container bearing over 5000 card reader machines.
“Is INEC saying it does not have an internal mechanism to curtail fire outbreak in her office?” he queried.
The PDP spokesperson added that “Is the metal container bearing the over 5000 card reader machines connected to electricity? If so, was the electricity supply not put off after the official close of work at 05.00pm?
“Where were the security officers on duty at the time the fire started? Why was it that fire engulfed a container housing over 5000 card reader machines within few minutes?” he asked.
Also, Peretei warned that the people of the state should not be taken for granted by INEC by resorting to the use of manual device, as against the use of electronic card readers on election day.
His words “Indeed, we suspect collusion between some unscrupulous officials of the commission with some politicians to perfect the running plans to rig the October 10 governorship election.
“We do not want any politician, because of selfish political ambition, to take us back to the dark days of the 1983 political crisis that engulfed the old Ondo State.
“We are thus appealing to eminent Nigerians, the civil rights community and other international bodies to wade in and help prevent any move to subvert the will of the people in the coming Ondo governorship election,” he added.
Also reacting to the incident, the governorship candidate of the party, Eyitayo Jegede said “We cannot rule out a foul play in the mysterious fire that razed the state INEC office; our fate is in the hands of God.
A statement by the Head, Media Research of the Jegede Campaign Organisation, Mr. Samuel Fasua, 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 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 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 the fire incident as alibi,” he added.
He called on the National Chairman of INEC, Prof. 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.
He particularly called on the Nigeria Police and other security agencies to rise up to the test of integrity thrown up by INEC fire incident and conduct sweeping investigations, to unveil likely perpetrators of the act and their sponsors.