BY BOLUWAJI OBAHOPO
LOKOJA – The Lokoja/Kogi Federal Constituency bye election conducted Saturday was marred with violence, intimidation, ballot snatching and votes buying.
The election also led to the death of one of the thug who died during a scuffle with some of the voters while trying to snatch ballot box at the NEPA polling unit.
The election which initially commenced peacefully as electoral materials and INEC staff arrived early however turned violent when some thugs invaded some of the voting units to cart away the ballot boxes.
The election was however peaceful in majority of Kogi local government communities where the PDP candidate, Bashiru Abubakar hailed from, aside in Ozuku communities where the people were asked to only do accreditation and leave.
The INEC adhoc staff, Julius Joseph said he allowed it to happened because he was intimidated by some thugs who said he must do that to save his live.
After the accreditation at the Ozuku poling unit, a specific party was said to have thumbprinted the ballot papers since the accreditation of the voters has already been done.
Ballot box snatching was recorded in Paparanda Square, St Mary Primary school, Adankolo Primary School and Crowther Memorial College poling units, but not without resistance from the voters who only caved in after the hired thugs shot sporadically into the air.
At St. Peter’s Primary School, Felele – Lokoja, it was an ‘open market’ for vote buying as some party paid N3,000 each to the voters.
The modus operandi was for the voters after thumb printing the ballot paper to systematically show it to the desired party agent, who will afterwards give a tiny signed paper to the voters to go to the next room and exchange the paper for N3,000.
All the intimidations, violence and votes buying occured in the presence of Policemen who seemed to have been compromised.
Reacting to the situation, the candidate of Social Democratic party, Umar Ahmed said the election has been compromised and lack credibility.
He said some of his supporters were harassed, beaten, kidnapped and released at the gate of the government house.
Also, a former Secretary to the state government, Musa Ahmodu described the Kogi scenario as one of a kind, said it was government official carrying and displaying arms.
He accused government agent and security agencies of going against the tenets of the electoral laws, said their action has marred the integrity of the bye election.
The candidate for the PDP, Engr. Abubakar Bashir also condemned the intimidation of oppositions by the ruling APC.