BEVERLY HILLS, May 17, (THEWILL) – Suspected arsonists on Sunday night attacked the Enugu State headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The incident happened barely one week after the agency’s office in Obollo-Afor, Udenu was razed.
The office is located at number 1, Achi Street by Agric Bank Bus stop in Independence Layout, Enugu.
It was learnt that the arsonists, numbering about seven in a mini-bus, stormed the premises of the commission located near Enugu State Broadcasting Service at Independence Layout and set fire to six Hilux vehicles, five of which were completely burnt. The sixth was partially destroyed.
They reportedly tried to set buildings in the premises ablaze but were resisted by armed security operatives guarding the premises. Items of furniture in one of the offices were said to have caught fire before fire fighters arrived.
Residents of the area said they heard sounds of gunshots at about 10pm before the inferno but could not ascertain those responsible for the shooting.
The state INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner, Emeka Ononamadu, who confirmed the incident, said that some vehicles on the premises were affected but the office buildings were saved.
He said, “Fire fighters were alerted shortly after the inferno was noticed and they rushed to the scene to prevent the fire from spreading to the main office complex.”
The Chief Fire Officer of Enugu State, Okwudili Ohaa, said the timely intervention of the Fire Service saved the Commission’s headquarters from burning down completely.
Ohaa said about five INEC operational vehicles were burnt completely and one was partially burnt. He said that fire fighters from the state’s fire service at about 10:30pm were able to put off the fire, which broke out at 9:30pm.
“Our timely intervention saved INEC headquarters Enugu from burning completely. “We were able to quench the fire immediately as it tried to spread to the main building of the INEC Headquarters.
“It only gutted two seats, probably visitors’ seats in the corridors upstairs,” he said.
Meanwhile, the state Commissioner of Police, Mohammed Aliyu, has ordered a manhunt of the perpetrators and emplacement of adequate security around the area.
The Commissioner, through the Command’s spokesman, Daniel Ndukwe, in a statement, said “yet to be identified armed miscreants, on Sunday, 16/05/2021 at about 2030hrs, attempted to set the Enugu Headquarters of the Independence National Electoral Commission (INEC) ablaze but were stiffly resisted by joint security operatives who swiftly mobilized to the scene.
Ndukwe said: “The State Fire Service personnel, who promptly responded to calls put across to them, helped in quenching the fire already set on four vehicles and two cushions within the office premises.
“Meanwhile, the Commissioner of Police, Mohammed Aliyu, who immediately raced to the scene alongside Heads of other Security Agencies in the State, has ordered the emplacement of adequate security within the precincts of the office and the launch of a full-scale investigation to unravel the mystery behind the act as well as fish out the assailants.”
Ndukwe quoted the Commissioner to have enjoined law-abiding citizens of the state to remain vigilant and promptly volunteer useful information that would help the police in their investigation.
Meanwhile, armed security operatives were said to have cordoned off the area while men of the State Fire Service were still on the premises with their equipment as of Press time.