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Security agents recover 16 DDC machines – INEC •Police quiz clearing agent •Presidency summons FAAN MD, Aviation Minister, others

Security agents recover 16 DDC machines – INEC •Police quiz clearing agent •Presidency summons FAAN MD, Aviation Minister, others | Print | E-mail Written by Jacob Segun Olatunji, Shola Adekola and Kolawole Daniel, with Agency Report Friday, 10 December 2010 SECURITY agents have recovered 16 of the stolen Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Direct Data Capture (DDC) machines reportedly carted away by unknown gunmen at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, while some arrests have been made over the incident. In a statement made available to newsmen in Abuja by the Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to the chairman of INEC, Kayode Idowu, the commission declared that adequate security had been made around the remaining DDC machines at the airport to safeguard further stealing of the equipment meant for the compilation of voter register scheduled for next month. The statement revealed that 20 machines were stolen on Tuesday at the airport out of a total of 6,000 brought into the country by Zinox Technologies Ltd., the contractor that handled the procurement of the equipment. It stated that concerted efforts were being made by the appropriate security agents to recover the outstanding four while a manhunt had also been launched for the perpetrators of the crime. The commission, however, assured Nigerians that the voter registration scheduled to be held from January 15 to 29 2011 would go ahead as planned despite the incident while no stone would be left unturned to frustrate the perpetrators and their collaborators from using the stolen DDC machines to cause havoc in the system. The commission, therefore, urged all eligible Nigerians to turn out en masse for the planned voter registration. Meanwhile, the presidency, on Thursday summoned the Minister of Aviation, Mrs Fidelia Njeze and the Managing Director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Richard Aisuebeogun, and other relevant government bodies to explain how the alleged theft of the DDC machines happened Following the sudden call, the ministerial briefing scheduled to be held on Thursday was postponed. According to information gathered, they were summoned to Aso Rock to explain their roles at the airport. The development came even as the Police Commissioner, Airport Command, Mr Moses Onireti, who said they were informed by FAAN of the incident said that before the incident airport police were not responsible for manning the Gate 3 through which the INEC machines were carted away, blaming FAAN for not allowing the airport police to have access to the gate. According to a police officer who asked not to be named, “the biggest problem is that FAAN would not allow police to be posted to that area, we only received a letter from FAAN on Thursday that some pallets containing INEC materials got missing at the tarmac, it is that bad.” Corroborating this, the airport police commissioner declared: “The police don’t have access to the place, we have just received a letter from Service Solutions, the clearing agent for INEC, that we should send officers to that area at some given dates when those INEC materials would be arriving.” Onireti said a clearing agent had been invited for questining over the missing INEC machines at the airport. Onireti told newsmen at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport that the clearing agent, Service Solution, was an agent to Zinox Technology Company, a contractor to the INEC. The police commissioner said the agent was invited along with officials of the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO) and Sky Power Aviation Handling Company (SAHCOL), to assist the police in their investigation. He explained that the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) formally informed the command in a letter on Wednesday that some pallets containing INEC materials were missing. At the Service Solution office at airport on Thursday, there was nobody to talk to the press as the receptionist claimed “they have all gone to the tarmac.” An official of the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO) who spoke to the Nigerian Tribune on the incident, said though NAHCO was not officially contacted to handle the cargo, it handled the aircraft. “ We don’t have anything to do with the cargo, we only unloaded from the aircraft,” the NAHCO official added. Also, The House of Representatives on Thursday ordered the Nigeria Police, the State Security Service (SSS), the Nigeria Customs Service, Technologies Zinox and NAHCO to immediately investigate and recover the alleged stolen imported first batch of the DDC machines. The order came after Honourable John Halims Agoda, (Ethiope Federal Constituency) moved a motion on the stolen DDC machines at the House of Representatives plenary session, telling his colleagues that “the airport incident is an eye opener to INEC on possibilities of man, and a litmus test on its preparedness to protect its integrity built on public trust of its leadership.” Honourable Agoda equally asked his colleagues to be “conscious of the grave implications of the theft of the DDC machines on the new face of the INEC as that which would not accommodate tendencies which could tar its credibility with doubts as to its mission to deliver to Nigerians, a clean and sparkling election.”

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Comment by Moses K Tawose on December 11, 2010 at 4:36pm

Thanks for the quick action in recovering those machines, but the investigation must continue as to when and how and what has taken place before and after. All this must be carefully investigated to prevent future occurrence or minimize the damage done as regard of the theft.

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