Apparently piqued by the mystery fire that gutted the Ondo State headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Akure, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Friday suspected foul play.
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 Thursday night consumed a container bearing over 5000 card reader machines.
The party queried, “Is INEC saying it does not have an internal mechanism to curtail fire outbreak in her office?
“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?”
It 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.
The major opposition party said, “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,” the PDP urged.
Also, the Eyitayo Jegede Campaign Organisation (EJCO) 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.
A statement by the Head, Media Research for the organisation, 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 raised 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 EJCO, as such, 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.
It also admonished him 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.
The Campaign Organisation, particularly urged 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.