Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the October Ondo Governorship election, Eyitayo Jegede, says he suspects foul play in the mysterious fire that gutted the state office of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Thursday.

Eyitayo Jegede

Over 5,100 card readers meant for the October 10 governorship election stored in a container were said to have been burnt in the inferno on Thursday night.

In a statement by his campaign organization in Akure, Jegede said: “We cannot rule out a foul play in the mystery fire that completely razed down the state INEC office; now, our fate is in the hands of God.”

The Head, Media Research for the organisation, Mr Samuel Fasua, in the statement said: “For a while now, our main rival in this race has been in the eye of the storm over accusation that it was using loan assistance decoy to collect the pin codes in the Permanent Voter Cards (PVC) of drivers, artisans and other professionals across the state.

“Telephone SMS was sent to them through the Ondo State Entrepreneurship Agency, that they should submit the code numbers on their PVCs latest September 2, 2020; that the state government wanted to grant them loans to boost their businesses.

“Here were loans that our people did not get for three and half years that the All Progressives Congress (APC) administration has been in power; but now, the party is trying to use a loan offer as a decoy to pervert the inalienable right of the people to elect the candidate of their choice.

“Now, shortly after the collection of innocent people’s PVCs through the backdoor, came the shocking news that the INEC office had been razed by fire and that over 5000 card readers had been burnt. We smell a rat in all of this, knowing that the next scene in what looks like a drama of the absurd may lead to steps that can tinker with the authentic INEC voters’ list, with yesterday’s (Thursday) fire incident as alibi.”

Jegede called on the National Chairman of the INEC, Mr Mahmood Yakubu, “to, as the ultimate umpire in the electoral body, order a thorough probe of the suspicious fire incident, and bring its perpetrators to book”.

The PDP candidate also appealed to the INEC boss “to cause the authentic voters’ lists for the state, as respectively available in all the INEC local council offices and at the national headquarters in Abuja, to be publicly displayed”.

He also called on “the Nigeria Police and other security agencies to rise up to the test of integrity thrown up by the INEC fire incident and conduct sweeping investigations, to unveil likely perpetrators of the act, and their sponsors”.

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