…Arrest LG candidate over alleged attempt to disrupt election
By Evelyn Usman
Blood bath was averted Saturday at Mulero area of Orile Agege, Lagos, following attempts by some thugs to invade polling booths and kidnap election officials, in a bid to snatch ballot boxes.
But for the swift arrival of the Commissioner of Police, Lagos State Police Command, CP Hakeem Odumosu, the thugs numbering over 500 , would have made do their threat.
Vanguard observed broken bottles littered on the ground , with election officials at the various polling units gripped with fear. Some party agents who earlier fled, came out of hiding when the command boss arrived with a contingent of armed policemen and a water Canon
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 teams of policemen, remained in the area until votes were counted . Thereafter, he ordered that a police van be brought to convey election officials and ballot boxes to the collision centre , with a team of armed policemen as back up, to prevent any likely attack on the vehicle.
Speaking with journalists, Odumosu, explained that ” the cause of the uproar was that there are two parties here: AYPP and APC. Some people alleged that some group of people wanted to come and snatch ballot boxes, falsify the results and kidnap officials of the state INEC. That is why we are here.
” On teaching here, the people said they want to protect their votes . But protecting their votes with such mammoth crowd was creating another tension within the locality.
“That was why we asked all of them to go while only party agents should wait and we stayed with them to count the votes”.
Odumosu described the conduct of policemen earlier stationed in the area as professional.
He said, ” Their conduct has been good. They have behaved professionally even in the state of provocation. Imagine what would have happened if the policemen that were here earlier had not behaved professionally, conducted themselves and controlled their emotion.
” The policemen were outnumbered. Despite the fact that they were armed, they comported themselves . They only called for reinforcement that they’ve been overwhelmed and that is why we are here . When we got here we saw almost 2000 people. We spoke to them in the spirit of democracy and they all left , that is why there has not been problem”.
He disclosed that a man who claimed to be a candidate of one of the parties was arrested earlier at Shomolu area of Lagos, for electoral offence.
The man whose identity could not be immediately ascertained, according to Odumosu, “was arrested at the Lagos State Electoral Commission’s office .
He has no business there. He went there with some people to protest. According to information available to me , he said his name was not on the list. That one is a party affair because it is the party that submits names to the state INEC.
” So if the party did not forward his name to INEC, he is supposed to go and protest at the party’s headquarter and not LASIEC’s. LASIEC is for all the parties in Lagos State . For him to have gone there with the intention of disrupting the election, he has violated electoral regulation. That is why he was arrested . He is at the State CID. From there he would be charged to court”.
Also arrested was driver of a commercial bus who was conveying passengers to an unknown destination. The CP ordered the passengers to alight from the bus before arresting the driver and impounding the bus. He said the driver would be charged to court on Monday for contravening the restriction of movement order .
Giving an assessment of his monitoring excercise , Odumosu, described yesterday’s election as hitch free.
He said, _So far so good the election was peaceful. There are stages in the election. The first stage is that of the accreditation, the second stage is voting , the third is counting and the last one is releasing of result.
So from all the wards elections have been over .( As at 3.40pm).
“We will now move to two locations, that is ,the ward collation centre for the counsellorship election and the local government headquarter collation centre for the chairmanship’s.
So far , so good there has not been any incident of crime since we started”.
The Police boss, who was accompanied by senior officers also visited the Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission Office at Sabo Yaba, Maryland, Ikotun, Igando, Iyana Ipaja, Mushin, Isolo, Agbotikuyo and Mulero in Agege area among others within the State.
In the same vein, the Commissioner of Police has formed a Special Electoral Offences Committee at the State Criminal Investigation Department, Panti, Yaba-Lagos, to collate and investigate electoral offences recorded during the Local Government Councils and LCDAs elections in the state.