The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Zenith Labour Party in Ondo State have raised concerns over the night fire which consumed over 5000 card readers at the Akure office of the Independent National Electoral Commission on Thursday.
In separate reactions to the incident, the two opposition parties said it was curious that the incident occurred a month to the governorship election.
The PDP demanded a full report of the cause of the inferno at the INEC Office.
A statement by its spokesperson, Kennedy Peretei, said the PDP wanted those culpable after thorough investigation to be sanctioned.
He said the PDP received the news of the fire outbreak that engulfed a container with over 5000 card reader machines at the Akure office of INEC with a great disappointment.
“Is INEC saying it does not have an internal mechanism to curtail fire outbreak in her office? Is the metal container containing the over 5000 card reader machines connected to electricity?”Mr Peretei asked.
“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 machine within few minutes?
“All these questions are important for INEC to answer the good people of Ondo State as we cannot afford to go into an election in the next 30 days with a compromised system.
“The PDP noted the comment of INEC that the October 10 election won’t be affected by this development, but this is not enough from a Commission whose existence is being funded by tax payers money.
“The PDP demands in detail the full report of the causes of the inferno and when it is established those culpable must be sanctioned.
“The PDP also uses this medium to remind INEC that the people of Ondo State cannot be taken for granted as no excuse would be accepted from the Commission if there is a complain of non functionality of card reader machines during the forthcoming election.
“We want to believe that INEC will come to equity with clean hands and play the role of an unbiased umpire during and after the election.
“Or how do we explain a scenario where fire razed over 5000 card reader machines just 30 days to the governorship election?”
Also the Deputy Governor of Ondo State, Agboola Ajayi, who is the flag bearer of the ZLP, said he viewed the fire incident 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,” a statement by his spokesperson, Tope Okeowo, said.
“The Deputy Governor calls for the investigation of the fire incident and brings those culpable to face the wrath of the law.
“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.”
Meanwhile, the state governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, visited the scene of the fire on Friday morning and pledged to assist INEC in overcoming the setback caused by the fire.
He expressed shock at the development, noting that the fire must have been very serious following the smoke emanating from the scene 16 hours after the fire outbreak.
Mr Akeredolu said the replacement of the destroyed gadgets, especially the card readers, would be of great cost particularly in less than a month to the governorship election in the state, adding that the state will lend a helping hand in their replacement.
The fire incident, which occurred at about 8p.m., destroyed two containers housing the card readers meant for the conduct of the forthcoming governorship election in the state.
No clues yet as to the reason for the fire and the police said they would be relying on the state fire service to determine the cause of the fire.