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HURIWA WANTS INEC INFERNO PROBED

By Emmanuel Onwubiko
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A democracy focused Non-Governmental group-HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS' ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has charged the National Assembly and the presidency to set up two independent probe panels to investigate the remote and immediate causes of the fire incident that raze down a part of the corporate Head office of the Independent National Electoral Commission in Abuja on Monday.

The Rights group has also canvassed the introduction of workable national policy on fire disaster to compel government and private sector institutions to make provisin for state of the art fire fighting facilities within their business premises to prevent escalation of fire incidents whenever they occur and to save precious lives and property of Nigerians and Nigeria.

In a statement by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National media Director Miss Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA said "there may be more to the inferno that meets the eye" which should warrant comprehensive, deep, Independent- minded investigation to ascertain if sabotage is to be blamed for the incident with a view to finding out those remotely or directively involved to be sanctioned to avert future re- occurrence especially as the most important election comes up in 2015.

The group argues that the controversy and interest already generated across geo-political zones concerning the coming 2015 elections means that all hands must be on deck to prevent fifth columnists from ruining core electoral infrastructure like the national voters register and other hardwares purchased with billions of ta payers financial resources only recently before the 2001 elections.

The Rights group said the explanation offered so far by the media office of the electoral commission on the possible cause of the fire incident was not plausible and tepid given the fact that the only office primarily involved in inferno is the most strategic voter Registry and information communication technology office which is known to house very vital national assets like the national voters register.

Besides, HURIWA blamed the hierarchy of the electoral commission for failing to put proactive mechanism including fire alert communication systems following previous experiences in which parts of the corporate office and the electoral institute were gutted by fire.

The Rights group also canvassed the location of a unit of federal fire service with serviceable tools in strategic offices across the country including the head office of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Abuja to safeguard vital materials like soft copies of national voters register so that billions of tax payers money spent to originate the date are not wasted. the National Assembly it said, must originate a legislation for a national legal framework on the national policy on fire disasters in Nigeria without further waste of time.

HURIWA stated thus “We are disappointed that the strategic unit within the INEC office was burnt down by an early morning fire because there were no in- house fire alert system and functional fire-fighting equipment in that national institution that houses vital national assets like the national voters register generated with huge national financial resources".

"We hereby demand that the relevant committees in the national Assembly and the presidency Independently set up probe panels to investigate the remote and immediate causes of the fire with a view to safeguarding such Nigeria's national assets”.

Specifically, there was a fire outbreak at the INEC head office which reportedly razed the office of the Director of voter Register at the Information Communication Technology. No body was reportedly injured.