The outgoing Chairman of the Commission, Prof. Maurice Iwu, bought the No. 33 Ona Street, Maitama, Abuja residence of INEC boss under the monetization programme of the immediate past President Olusegun Obasanjo regime. The house was procured by former INEC boss Dr. Abel Guobadia for over N100 million to serve as residence of the commission’s chair at all time. Guobadia stayed in the house during his tenure and left when his tenure ended in 2005.
The residence called Election House is fitted with all security and electoral gadgets and from there the INEC chairman can monitor electoral activities and election results at the commission’s ICT centre in Maitama and across the states.
THISDAY reports that the idea of procuring a permanent place as residence of INEC chairman was conceived around 1999 by late Justice Ephraim Akpata when he was chairman of the commission.
He had reasoned that renting a property to serve as residence of INEC boss could have its effects on the conduct of elections.
According to INEC sources, Akpata had asked then-what if the prospective landlord is a chairman of a political party, how do you rule out favouritism when the landlord’s party is involved in an election?
Akpata stayed in a rented apartment throughout his period as INEC chair until he died in January 2000.
But his successor, Guobadia, saw the sense in Akpata’s proposal and the need for a permanent residence for INEC chairman and as such got the commission to procure the property.
Under the monetization programme, the occupant of a government house is given the first option of buying or refusing to buy.
The Director of Media and Publicity of INEC, Mr. Emmanuel Umenger, declined comments on the development last night when THISDAY sought to speak with him on the sale of INEC chair’s residence.
But the question is why sell the house said to be strategic to the operations of INEC chairman?
Uproar had greeted former Inspector-General of Police Sunday Ehindero’s moves to acquire the IG residence in Maitama, Abuja given the strategic nature of the house.
The sale was later reversed by the Federal Government.
So, Where will the incoming chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) stay?