THE offices of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) at Mgboko, headquarters of Obingwa Local Council of Abia State, was razed around 11 a.m on Sunday, August 2, 2015, by yet to be identified arsonists.
Reacting to the incident, Abia State Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu condemned the perpetrators, describing them as enemies of the state.
Governor Ikpeazu who inspected the scene of the fire later in the day, expressed shock at the level of damage done to the building and charged the police and other law enforcement agencies to ensure that the culprits are brought to book.
The governor also called on the Police and the Army to beef up security in all INEC formations in the state to forestall such ugly incidents.
He lamented over the tendency of some disgruntled elements in society to vandalise public property, saying that it is a big drawback to the effort of government in providing dividend of democracy.
“While reiterating the determination of his government to maintain law and order and protect life and property of the Abia citizenry, he used the occasion to warn perpetrators of such acts to turn to a new leaf as the current administration will not tolerate such deviate acts,” the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr. Godwin Adindu said in a statement in Umuahia, Abia State.
Meanwhile, ENCOMIUM Weekly gathered that the attack on the Abia INEC office might not be unconnected with opposition elements who had allegedly vowed to frustrate the electoral commission, which they would in turn blame on the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
Confirming this speculation, Chairman Okezuo Abia Campaign Organization, Elder Chiemela Moses said, the razing of the INEC office by enemies of the state is an act of cowardice.
He specifically blamed the All Progressives Grand Alliance for the arson, insisting it is the height of the opposition’s determination to steal the mandate freely given to Dr. Ikpeazu by Abians. Similarly, the Abia state chapter of the PDP has expressed shock over the incident.
Addressing media men at the party secretariat on Finbars Road, Umuahia on Monday, August 3, 2015, the State Chairman, Senator Emma Nwaka said: “I welcome you all to Abia state on the issue of the fire incident which occurred at INEC office in Obingwa LG headquarters. It’s quite unfortunate, but what we can’t understand is why APGA has taken over police investigations. INEC office was similarly burnt in Isiala South LGA by our political opponents weeks back. They thought that if that place were razed the INEC Certificate of Return wouldn’t be given to our party candidate who won the House of Assembly election in the area.
“It’s unfortunate they are at it again. Obingwa is a PDP stronghold. Since 1999, PDP has never lost any election in Obingwa. Our lawyers had argued for joint inspection of electoral materials which the court has ruled in our favour. We are not happy. If you order a fresh election in Obingwa, we would do better any day because that is the Governor’s base. Don’t forget there was no rerun in Obingwa.”
APGA has since denied having anything to do with the burning of the INEC office in Mgboko, Obingwa.
It would be recalled that APGA is in court to challenge the victory of the PDP at the April guber elections.