By Simon Ebegbulem & Gabriel Enogholase
BENINâ€”THE Deputy Commissioner of Police in Edo state, Mr. Olufemi Adenaike, yesterday narrated how he rescued a team of officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) deployed to AiyegunleÂ to conduct the re-run House of Assembly election in Akoko Edo constituency 1 from the resident of a top chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), where they were allegedly held hostage by him for several hours.
The Police boss, who spoke with newsmen in Benin City weekend to correct the earlier impression given by PDP chieftains in the area that electoral materials were snatched by thugs loyal to the Action Congress (AC), said elections in all other wards in the constituency were peaceful, except in Aiyegunle, the home town of the leader of the House of Representatives, Mr. Tunde Akogun.
He explained that following security reports that there was no voting in the area, followingÂ alleged snatching of electoral materials by thugs, he personally visited the troublesome area andÂ was told that voting was disrupted following the kidnap of INEC officials.
â€œSo I decided to head to Akogunâ€™s house where I had a meeting with him. And I told him that I learnt that the INEC officials were held hostage in his house, but he became angry and told me not to insult him.
â€œThe SSS man with me also repeated the same thing to him but he became really angry. So I tried to persuade him on the need to free the INEC officials so that voting can commence in the area.
â€œHe narrated his innocence, but as we were descending downstairs, a woman pointed to me to come see where the INEC officials and the electoral materials were hidden. So I went there and freed them and I took them to the polling unit and told them to prepare every thing for the election to continue.
â€œBut the woman was scared that if we leave, the thugs will come back to beat them up, so she pleaded we should stay while they conduct the election,â€ he stated.
The DCP added that â€œwe decided to stay and asked people to queue and cast their votes at about 3pm. That was how peace returned to the area and election went on peacefully without any hindranceâ€.
He explained that he received a report the previous night (Friday) that there were attempts by one of the political parties to hijack the ballot boxes from INEC office at Igarra, which was reportedly resisted by the police in the area.
â€œSo I want to say that elections were conducted in all the wards, though it was delayed in Aiyegunle, because of the earlier problem but people in the area were later given opportunity to voteâ€.