Thugs go on the rampage
Two killed in Lokoja, INEC officials abducted in Yenagoa
Dickson calls for election cancellation in Nembe, Southern Ijaw
Jonathan attacks, Kogi APC candidate commends electoral body
Bello, APC compelled INEC, NYSC officials to sign pre-filled result sheets – PDP
Kogi gov, Adeyemi, Dino Melaye win polling units
By Sam Oyadongha, Boluwaji Obahopo, Emem Idio & Dirisu Yakubu
THE off cycle governorship elections in Bayelsa and Kogi states, were, yesterday, marred by violence, vote-buying, snatching of voting materials and logistics challenges and late arrival of electoral materials, leaving sad tales on the lips of some stakeholders.
Election also took place in Kogi West to elect the district’s senator.
In Bayelsa State, the governorship election was between the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Douye Diri, and the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), David Lyon, while in Kogi State, the battle was between incumbent Governor Yahaya Bello of the APC, Musa Wada of the PDP and Natasha Akpoti of the Social Democratic Party (SDP).
For the Kogi West senatorial election, Senator Dino Melaye of the PDP was pitted against Mr Smart Adeyemi of the APC.
The exercise ended on a sad note at Barracks Polling Unit 01, Abocho community in Kogi East where two persons, Umoru Shuaib and Faruk Sulaiman, were killed after casting their votes just as three people were reported missing in Sagbama, Bayelsa State.
Across the two states, areas where violent incident were recorded include: Lokoja, Okehi, Kabba/Bunu LGA in Kogi; and Yenagoa, Ekeremor, Nembe, Sagbama and Koluama Ward in Southern Ijaw LGA of Bayelsa.
Thugs accompanied by men in military uniform disrupted poll in Koluama Ward 17. Officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, were abducted in Yenagoa as thugs carted away voting materials at a polling unit.
Also, five police men deployed to a polling unit in Asuta Ward, Kabba/Bunu LGA of Kogi, ran for their dear lives when thugs invaded the area during the exercise. In like manner, thugs snatched ballot boxes at Melaye’s polling booth in Kogi; and beat up an SDP agent after disrupting the election in Okehi.
Immediate Past President Goodluck Jonathan, who was caught in the logistics challenges and could not cast his vote until 11.30 am at his polling booth at Unit 39 Ward 13 at Otuoke in Ogbia LGA of Bayelsa State, said the development was an indictment of INEC, noting that many African countries were getting their elections right.
Jonathan said: “Look at even this voting, I was around earlier but the materials were yet to arrive the polling unit. I have led election monitoring teams to other African countries, we use to go 30 minutes before the time and in our reports, we indicate the exact time when the vote starts.
“So, for election to start after that time it is an indictment on the electoral body that manages election. There is no reason here for election not to start by 8:00 am. Even the youths should stop blaming old people, you blame yourselves and do things properly. I am really disappointed on what I observe today compared to other African countries I monitor elections.”
Disturbed by the level of violence, Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State called for the cancellation of the election in Nembe, Southern Ijaw and other parts of the state. He alleged that rogue elements in the Army were conniving with the APC to rig the poll, warning that he should not be pushed to call on Bayelsans to defend themselves.
Also, the PDP accused Bello and the APC of influencing INEC officials and National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members to endorse pre-filled result sheets in favour of the APC in Okene and Okehi LGAs in Kogi Central senatorial zone.
In a press alert signed by the party’s spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, the PDP urged INEC to watch out for the result sheets that would be submitted by its officials from the two local councils.
It further alleged that in Kabba/Bunu Okekoko Ward Unit 9, “the polling units have been reduced from two to one, a situation that will lead to disenfranchising of voters to reduce votes belonging to the PDP”.
Lyon commends INEC
Meanwhile, Bayelsa APC governorship candidate, Lyon, shortly after casting his vote, described the election in the state as peaceful.
Lyon, who voted at Olugbobiri Ward 4, Unit 1, in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area, at about 1:18pm, said he was sure of victory. He sued for peace and warned against fomenting trouble to disrupt the poll. He commended the INEC for the conduct so far, and advised the people to remain peaceful throughout the exercise.
Bello, Adeyemi, Dino, Onoja win polling units
Amid the complaints, claims and counter-claims, some of the candidates and leading politicians delivered their polling booths in the elections in Kogi.
However, the governorship and senatorial candidates of the APC, Bello and Adeyemi, won their polling units.
The governor, who voted at his Agassa country home Ward 001, scored 950 votes while his opponent recorded zero.
In Adeyemi’s Open Market Polling Unit 002, the senatorial election result was APC 222, PDP 70; and governorship election, APC 178, PDP 102.
Bello and Adeyemi expressed optimism of victory.
PDP senatorial candidate, Melaye, who voted at his Unit 1 Iluafon Ward, Aiyetoro Gbede, also won his polling unit.
The deputy governorship candidate of the APC, Edward Onoja, won his polling unit in Olamaboro, scoring 934 votes to PDP’s zero.
Bello narrowly defeated Akpoti of the SDP in her polling unit. Bello secured 78 votes while Akpoti got 76 votes and PDP recorded zero.
How violence, flood, late arrival of materials marred polls in Bayelsa
In Southern Ijaw and Ekeremor local councils, election materials were allegedly hijacked and destroyed by political thugs who invaded the RAC centre in Ekeremor Town.
Election materials for Koluama I & II communities in Constituency 4 of SILGA on the Atlantic fringe were reportedly destroyed after several hours of arguments by agents of the two top political parties (APC and PDP).
The State Chairman of the PDP, Cleopas Moses, the Director General of the PDP campaign, Nimibofa Ayawei, and a former Chairman of the APC, Tiwei Orunimieghe, are from the area.
But the candidate of APC, Lyon, who is from Olugbobiri community also in Southern Ijaw council, voted peacefully in his ward.
In Ewoama Ward 3, a member representing Brass Constituency 2, Hon. Timi Omubo Agala, commended INEC for early commencement of voting.
The Executive Chairman of Brass Local Government Area, Hon. Victor Inodunimi Isaiah, who is of the PDP, said, at press time, the election in his unit was peaceful with an appreciable voter turnout and commended the people of Ewoama for conducting themselves very peacefully.
In some parts of Yenagoa, the state capital, and environs, Ogbia, Sagbama, Southern Ijaw, people were still on queue to cast their votes as at 4:pm. There were no cases of smart card failure.
The flood in some parts of the state, particularly in Yenagoa, Kolokuma/Opokuma, Sagbama and Ogbia Local Government Areas caused more delay in the exercise. In Sampou community in Kolokuma/Opokuma LGA where Diri hails from, officials of INEC were delayed for over two hours before accessing the polling units in the area.
INEC officials, journalists and election observers had to use canoes to access the polling units and, in the process, the correspondents of News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, Business Day Newspaper and Authority Newspaper, suffered a minor mishap.
In parts of Yenagoa, Ogbia, Southern Ijaw and Sagbama LGAs, there were reported cases of shootings and hijack of materials. In the coastal Koluama in Southern Ijaw, which has the likes of the state PDP chairman, Campaign Director General of the PDP, and other top chieftains of APC, an agreement over vote sharing formula between the two rival parties (APC and PDP) could not be reached and the ballot papers and boxes were thrown into the sea, while the officials of INEC were whisked to safety by the personnel of the Nigerian Navy.
INEC officials abducted in Yenagoa, three missing in Sagbama
INEC officials were abducted in the Bumodi-Bgbene community in Ekpetiama clan, Yenagoa local government area of Bayelsa State.
An eyewitness said the officials were rounded up by some youths suspected to be thugs and taken to a building in the area. In the Angiama community of Southern Ijaw LGA, election materials meant for the area were intercepted and hijacked by suspected thugs.
An NYSC member, who managed to escape from the scene, said one of the police personnel was pushed into a creek while three officials were still missing.
Alaibe lauds Opokuma people for peaceful conduct
A former Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Chief Ndutimi Alaibe, lauded the people of Opokuma in Kolokuma-Opokuma Local Government Area of Bayelsa State for their peaceful conduct during the governorship election in the area.
Though there was some level of voters apathy in the area ostensibly due to the ravaging flood, which has displaced several families, the people were orderly in their conduct.
Dickson calls for cancellation of election in Nembe, Southern Ijaw, others
Addressing journalists, Dickson urged INEC to cancel the election in some parts of Bayelsa where the exercise was characterised by brigandage and hijacking of electoral materials.
The governor made the call at Toru-Orua after casting his vote at Oruerewari, Polling Unit 005, Toru Orua in Sagbama LGA.
He particularly called for outright cancellation of the elections in Nembe LGA where, according to him, over 20 PDP faithful were massacred by armed APC militia during an aborted campaign rally of the PDP.
“I call on the Chairman of INEC to issue an order cancelling the process in all the wards, in all the local government areas affected, in all the wards and units, where materials have been stolen or hijacked, where officials have been kidnapped and held hostage to enable the APC cook up non existing figures,” he said.
Dickson reiterated that the APC is an unpopular party, describing what is happening in the state as a well orchestrated plan by the APC-led Federal Government to foist a one-party system on the country.
According to him, rogue elements in the Nigera Army connived with suspected APC thugs to perpetrate electoral fraud and insecurity in some parts of Southern Ijaw, Ekeremor and Ogbia and even the state capital, Yenagoa.
Dickson, who highlighted the gruesome killings during the PDP campaign in Nembe, noted that what is going on in Bayelsa is a charade and not a democracy.
According to him, some of the PDP supporters who were attacked during the campaign in Nembe were still gasping for breath on their hospital beds and called on the APC-led Federal Government to live up to its primary responsibility of protecting lives and property.
“Materials meant for Eniwari community, Opuama ward, most locations in Southern Ijaw as we earlier predicted were hijacked”, the governor stated.
“As everyone knows, the APC has no foothold in Bayelsa to win an election but they have an armed militia, surveillance contractors who kill and maim for the APC. They also have the Nigerian Army and rogue elements of the Police Force working in concert with them to deny the citizens of these communities their right to vote.
“So as we are speaking, in our country, in this day and age, gun wielding militia men with the aid of security forces have overrun the election officials and most of the electoral officials in Southern Ijaw.
“These officials as we speak, have been kidnapped and held hostage. This has been the lot, this has been what we’ve been managing since 2015, with APC at the centre, not caring about the lives and dignity of our people. The APC at the centre are too hungry and determined to make Nigeria a one party state.
“The president has to wake up and do something. What is going on in Bayelsa in the name of election is not a democracy. I call on the President to call on the security agents particularly the Army to stop desecrating democratic governance and subjecting the image of the country to ridicule.
“I call on the Inspector General of Police to be true to his professional calling and direct the DIG and all the security operatives to protect the people of Bayelsa. I do not not want to be pushed to call on them to defend and protect themselves.”
Violence in Kogi
Policemen deployed at Polling Unit 006, Asuta Ward, Kabba/Bunu local government area of Kogi fled after suspected thugs took over the unit.
At least five of the officers escaped through a nearby bush shortly after irate youth surrounded the voting area, destroying election materials.
Thugs snatch ballot boxes at Melaye’s polling unit
Some thugs snatched ballot boxes and chased away voters at PU 004, Ayetoro Ward 1 in Ijumu LGA where Kogi West PDP senatorial candidate, Melaye, voted.
Melaye had cast his vote before violence broke out.
At least one person was reported shot after the hoodlums opened fire.
EFCC, ICPC couldn’t stop vote buying in Kogi – CDD
Meanwhile, the Centre for Democratic Development, CDD, has said that financial inducement of voters was rampant in the Kogi elections.
In a preliminary report released by its election analysis centre, CDD said vote-buying was recorded in different parts of the state despite the enlistment of anti-graft agencies by the INEC.
The organisation said in some polling units, voters were offered as little as N500 to influence them.