FIRE Guts ELEC­TION of­fice in key Nige­rian state

Millennium Post - - Mp World -

JOS (NIGE­RIA): A fire gut­ted an elec­toral com­mis­sion of­fice in cen­tral Nige­ria, de­stroy­ing bal­lot boxes and other ma­te­ri­als just a week be­fore polling, of­fi­cials said on Sun­day.

The blaze hap­pened at the In­de­pen­dent Na­tional Elec­toral Com­mis­sion (INEC) Of­fice in the Qua’an Pan area of Plateau state late on Satur­day.

The INEC head of voter ed­u­ca­tion and pub­lic­ity in Plateau state, Osaretin Imahiy­ere­obo, said of this lat­est in­ci­dent: “A drunken se­cu­rity man was said to have caused the fire out­break.” Imahiy­ere­obo said the of­fice was “com­pletely burnt with all its con­tents”, in­clud­ing bal­lot boxes and un­col­lected voter ID cards.

A sim­i­lar fire broke out last week­end in the south­east­ern state of Abia. Nige­ria goes to the polls next Satur­day to elect a new pres­i­dent and par­lia­ment. State gov­er­nor­ship and lo­cal as­sem­bly elec­tions fol­low on March 2.

Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari, of the All Pro­gres­sives Congress (APC), is seek­ing re­elec­tion. His main chal­lenger is Atiku Abubakar, of the Peo­ples Demo­cratic Party (PDP).

The race is ex­pected to be close but both par­ties have been ac­cused of try­ing to rig the vote, par­tic­u­larly by buy­ing voter cards.

INEC on Fri­day ex­tended the dead­line for col­lec­tion of the cards un­til Mon­day, af­ter com­plaints they were not ready.

Plateau state, which lies be­tween the mainly Mus­lim north and largely Chris­tian south, has been the cen­tre of re­newed vi­o­lence in the lon­grun­ning con­flict for re­sources be­tween no­madic herders and farm­ers. Buhari has been crit­i­cised for his re­sponse to the vi­o­lence be­cause he is also a Hausa-speak­ing eth­nic Fu­lani Mus­lim like the herders.

He has re­peat­edly de­nied the charge but it has raised the chances of him los­ing states in the north-cen­tral zone af­fected by the con­flict, which swung from the PDP to APC in 2015.

Buhari was elected on a pledge to tackle en­demic cor­rup­tion but his high-pro­file cam­paign has been seen as onesided in that it has mainly tar­geted po­lit­i­cal op­po­nents.

He wrote in an ar­ti­cle pub­lished on Sun­day that Nige­ria’s main anti-cor­rup­tion agency had “raised con­cerns over laun­dered money be­ing fun­nelled into vote-buy­ing”.

“This is the prob­lem of cor­rup­tion writ large,” he wrote on the Pulse Nige­ria web­site in a

lengthy de­fence of his cam­paign against graft.

“It il­lus­trates how it lurks in all and ev­ery crevice of pub­lic

life, ma­nip­u­lat­ing due process in pur­suit of self-preser­va­tion and per­pet­u­a­tion; pro­tect­ing per­sonal po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic in­ter­ests at the ex­pense of the com­mon good.”

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