Following the fire outbreak at the Independent National Electoral Commission office in Akure, Ondo State, reactions have continued to trail the incident.
The fire occurred around 8:00pm on Thursday, destroying over 5000 Smart Card Readers inside two containers billed to be used for the October 10 governorship election in the state.
Reacting on Friday, the Peoples Democratic Party said it was alarmed by the fire incident, noting that a foul play cannot be ruled out.
In a statement by the party's spokesperson in Ondo, Kennedy Peretie, the PDP said that it received the news of the fire incident with disappointment.
The statement reads, "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 5:00pm?
"Where were the security officers on duty at the time of the fire started? Why was it that fire engulfed a container housing over 5000 card reader machines within a few minutes?
"Indeed, we suspect collusion between some unscrupulous officials of the commission with some politicians to perfect plans to rig the October 10 governorship election."
Also reacting to the incident, candidate of the PDP in the governorship election, Eyitayo Jegede, said he suspects something sinister by the fire incident.
Jegede, in a statement by spokesperson for his campaign organisation, Samuel Fasua, called on INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, to order a thorough probe into the inferno and bring the perpetrators to book.
While asking the commission to paste the authentic voters' list for the state, the PDP candidate charged the police and other security agencies to investigate and unravel the cause of the incident.
PHOTONEWS: Over 5000 Card Readers Lost In Mysterious Fire Outbreak At Ondo @INECnigeria Office Less Than A Month To Election | Sahara Reporters https://t.co/EA2tQmWgpw#OndoDecides2020 #Ondo2020 pic.twitter.com/ZL4GKO34PR— Sahara Reporters (@SaharaReporters) September 10, 2020
Mr Agboola Ajayi, deputy governor of the state and candidate of the Zenith Labour Party in the governorship race, said the incident should be a source of worry to all residents of the state, adding that security agencies should probe the fire incident.
Ajayi, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Tope Okeowo, said, "The question that readily comes to the mind of reasonable citizens is why did the fire target the store where card readers meant for the election were kept?
"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 All Progressives Congress to subvert the wish of the electorate."
Governor Rotimi Akeredolu has visited INEC's office to assess the impact of the fire, describing the incident as disheartening.
He promised that the incident would be investigated and assured the support of government for the commission ahead of the election.
Akeredolu, who was received by INEC's Resident Electoral Commissioner, Rufus Akeju, said he hoped the assistance to the commission would not be seen as compromising INEC's integrity ahead of the governorship election.
Remarking, Akeju said the election would still go ahead as scheduled and assured that the commission would investigate the cause of the fire incident.