•Low turn out in Ogun as opposition boycotts exercise
•Why we didn’t vote —Lagos residents
•Voters intimidated, harassed —Yiaga
•Response disappointing – LASIEC Chairman
•Elections peaceful but … — Sanwo-Olu, Abiodun
•Tinubu, Fashola, Ambode absent at polling units
By our reporters
Lagos State Local Government elections, yesterday, were generally peaceful but marred by apathy, malfunctioning of card readers, leading to use of incident forms and late commencement of voting in many polling stations across the state.
The exercise in Ogun State was peaceful but also characterised by low turnout of voters. There was also the issue of inadequate polling units in many new towns that have popped up across Lagos metropolis.
Voter turnout was so low that it is feared that it may be less than 17 per cent that was witnessed in the 2017 council elections in Lagos.
Across Lagos, roads were empty but the loneliness of the roads did not translate to crowded voting centres. In many polling units, polling officials idled away as barrel-chested youths elected to play soccer than going to vote. Some were also at drinking joints, relaxing. There was low turn out of voters in a contest that had 6,570,291 registered voters across 13,323 polling units in 20 LGAs and 37 LCDAs.
Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission, LASIEC, had said 133 candidates contested for the office of Chairman with 131 Vice Chairmanship candidates.
Of the 133 candidates for the office for the Chairman, 16 are women and of the 131 Vice Chairman candidates, 106 are women, including that the parties fielded more women for the office of the Vice-Chairman.
Also, 15 political parties participated in the polls in Lagos.
Police arrest LG candidate, foil attempt by thugs to kidnap electoral officials
Blood bath was averted at Mulero area in Orile Agege local government area of Lagos State following attempts by some thugs to invade polling booths and kidnap electoral officials, in a bid to snatch ballot boxes.
But for the swift arrival of the state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Hakeem Odumosu, the thugs, numbering over 500, would have had their way. Party agents, who fled, came out of hiding when the police boss arrived with a contingent of armed policemen. Already factions of the thugs had engaged each other in a fight, inflicting injuries on themselves.
When the CP, who was monitoring voting processes across the state arrived the scene, he ordered that all adjourning streets be condoned off and directed everyone who had no business at polling units to vacate there.
One of the suspected thugs was arrested. Odumosu and the team of policemen remained in the area until votes were counted.
Tinubu, Fashola, Ambode absent at polling units
Former governors of Lagos State, Bola Tinubu, Babatunde Fashola and Akinwumi Ambode, were absent at their polling units during the elections. Checks across Lagos by our correspondents revealed low turnout of voters at polling units, while roads were deserted and businesses shut.
Journalists, who trooped out to Unit 047, Ward 3, Alausa, Ikeja Local Government Area, where Tinubu usually cast his vote, were disappointed when one of the APC leaders in the area announced that the former governor would not be voting as he was not in town.
Similarly, Fashola did not cast his vote at the Polling Unit 002, State Junior Grammar School, Eric Moore with Reg. Area 09, Iponri Housing Estate/Eric Moore, Surulere Local Government Area, Lagos.
The same was the case at Ward A5 Polling Unit 033, Ogunmodede College, Papa, Epe area where Ambode always casts his vote.
Sanwo-Olu frowns at low turnout
Earlier, Sanwo-Olu, after over two hours of delay due to the late arrival of Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission, LASIEC, officials, cast his vote alongside his wife, Dr. Ibijoke, at Ward E, Unit 019, Femi Okunnu/Lateef Jakande Avenue, Ikoyi, Eti-Osa LGA, Lagos.
Speaking to newsmen after casting his vote, the governor described the exercise as calm and peaceful but scored the turn out low.
He said though there was late arrival of materials at the four polling units he had visited, the election offered residents the opportunity to exercise their franchise by voting their preferred candidate.
Lagos residents explain low turnout
Some residents of Jakande Estate, Oke-Afa Ward, said their apathy to voting was borne out of their disappointment with elected officeholders in the area.
A similar trend was observed in many polling units. Some of the residents said some political office holders had failed to fulfil their campaign promises, hence their decision to abstain from voting.
The local government elections in Ibeju Lekki council were characterised by low voter turnout two hours to the end of polling. At Iberekodo Primary School, Akodo, voters trickled in, with electoral officers having little or nothing to do.
Party agents on the ground said though the elections were peaceful, low turnout remained a source of concern. Some residents, who went about their businesses, feigned ignorance of the election, an indication that not much of the public enlightenment campaign was conduct by LASIEC before the elections. The turnout of voters at Festac town polling units in Amuwo-Odofin was not impressive as the exercise did not start on time.
Badagry residents protest inability to vote
Some residents in Badagry council area staged a protest at the council headquarters over their inability to cast their votes. The protesters from Ward I, Ikoga area were angry that two hours before the end of the voting exercise, they were unable to cast their just as they wondered why no official was ready to give a cogent reason. The Ward I voters, who stormed the council area, were, however, prevented by security agents from gaining entry into the LG secretariat.
The voters loitered around the council secretariat, vowing not to leave until the Council Chairman addressed their grievances.
One of the protesters told Vanguard that they left their polling unit and ward because there were alleged plans to scuttle the electoral process in the area.
Faulty card reader
At some of the polling units within the Otto Awori area, card readers malfunctioned as they were unable to recognize fingerprints of voters. For instance in Ward B, Unit 005 and Unit 008, card readers failed. They subsequently resorted to manual voting. As of 9 am, few voters were at the polling unit.
Similarly, officials of Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission, LASIEC, in Kosofe Local Government Area of Lagos State attributed their lateness to polling centres to non-availability of card readers.
No nose mask, no voting, electoral officers insist
Some voters at the Okerube Ward B, Polling Unit 025 were sent back to get their nose masks before being accredited to vote. LASIEC had made it a mandatory condition for voters seeking to exercise their rights to vote.
Alhaji Kabiru Omotosho, a voter, who was turned back, said he was not angry over the directive. Mrs Idiat Ajibike, a businesswoman, said that she didn’t plan to buy a nose mask but was forced to, as there was no choice.
Voters intimidated, harassed – Yiaga
On its part, an international election monitoring group, Yiaga Africa, said the exercise was below expectation, alleging that voters were intimidated, harassed/assaulted in a few polling units during accreditation and voting, in Ward B Badagry LGA.
In a statement by board members of the group, Mr. Eze Nwagwu and Cynthia Mbamalu, Yiaga said: “The findings presented in this statement are based on information received from the Watching The Vote, WTV observers on set-up, and the commencement of voting and accreditation at the polling units, Late opening of polls and deployment of polling materials:
“As of 8:30 am, Yiaga Africa WTV observers reported that no polling official was seen in 61 of the polling units visited”.
Response very low, lots of voter apathy —LASIEC Chairman
Lamenting the conduct of the council polls, the LASIEC Chairman, Justice Ayotunde Philips (retd), expressed worry over the low turnout of the exercise. Justice Philips said: “The turnout was low and there’s obvious voter apathy”.
“However maybe when INEC update the new register, we would have a lot of people that would vote . “Very few polling units opened at 8am, most of them opened between 8-30 and 9-30 which I have noted. And a lot of administrative hiccups here and there”.
Asked if the commission has done well in voters sensitization, she said: “No, there’s need for us to do more.”
Low turn out in Ogun as Abiodun assures autonomy for LG
In Ogun State, the council polls commenced as early as 8.00 a.m across the state but charactised by low turnout of voters. However at Ogere and Iperu -Remo areas of Ikenne, Yewa North, Odeda, Ijebu East and Imeko/Afon local government areas of the state, voters trooped out in large numbers to exercise their franchise.
Security operatives, including soldiers, Police, DSS, NSCDC, So Safe, Vigilante Group of Nigeria and Amotekun Corps, were on ground to ensure adequate security.
Speaking after casting his vote at Ward 3, Iperu1, Unit 002, Ita Osanyin, Iperu in Ikenne Local Government Area of the state, Governor Dapo Abiodun said his administration will continue to respect the autonomy of local governments and give them support to carry out them constitutional responsibilities as the third tier of government”.
The governor said: “What currently obtained in the state is that local governments are independent because we give them free hand to operate.
“We will respect the autonomy of the local government. They are the third tier of government and they are closer to the people. Our administration will give all the necessary support to them to ensure that they carry out their constitutional responsibilities in line with the resolutions of the Southern Governors Forum.”
The governor described the local government elections as peaceful, noting that reports available to him indicated no disturbances or violence in any part of Ogun.
On the boycott by some political parties, the governor denied any boycott, saying the Ogun State electoral body (OGSIEC) had done the needful by recognising the legitimate faction of a factionalized party.
Why we had voter apathy —CSO
But addressing newsmen, Dr. Abdullahi Muhammad Jabi of the Civil Society Organisation, CSO, said, the elections in Ogun peaceful but charactised by voter apathy.
Jabi said: “The elections were peaceful but there was apathy. You gave a polling unit or a ward of almost 1,000 registered voters and as of the time we visited there, only 10 voters had been accredited and voted, that is to say, that the turnout was very low, but that does not foreclose that they may not come. As of the time we were capturing them, the turnout was very low”.
Ogun PDP boycotts polls
Earlier, the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, in Ogun State had withdrawn participation in the exercise following what it described as an alleged dubious stance of OGSIEC towards the party.