February 26, 2023

2023 Election: 3 die in Rivers, Kogi as thugs snatch ballot boxes in Lagos

2023 Election: 3 die in Rivers, Kogi as thugs snatch ballot boxes in Lagos

•Boko Haram fires RPG at Polling Unit in Gwoza

•Osun Police arrest 4 suspects over disruption 

Protest over shortage of ballot papers in Bayelsa

•Ogun: INEC blames NURTW for late arrival of materials 

•Late voting, snatching of BVAS, lack of ink mar polls in FCT

By Our reporters

The presidential and National Assembly elections across the states were characterised by violence and logistics challenges.

In Gwoza Local Government Area of Borno State, suspected Boko Haram terrorists, yesterday, fired a Rocket Propelled Launcher targeting one of the polling units in Gwoza Local Government Area of Borno State. 

It was gathered that the incident, which happened at about 10 am, disrupted the exercise, as voters scampered for safety.

According to sources, some people sustained injuries, but no life was lost.

It was gathered that the terrorists fired the RPG from the Mandara Mountains bordering Gwoza and the Cameroon Republic.

Gwoza is the home town of Senator Ali Ndume, who is seeking re-election on the platform of the APC.

All efforts to get confirmation from Ndume proved abortive as his phone line was switched off at press time. 

Bayelsa: Protest over shortage of ballot papers 

Similarly, there was tension at the INEC headquarters in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State as angry voters laid siege to the facility in protest over the non-availability of materials and ad-hoc staff at the Atissa and Epie polling units.

Police operatives stationed at the INEC complex fired sporadically into the air to scare the protesters but that proved abortive.

The shooting, it was learned, started when the Resident Electoral Commissioner Mr Alex Hart arrived on the scene and tried to address the crowd. 

The security operatives with him also tried to disperse the crowd.

The protesters alleged that they were not given the right to vote, as there were no visible INEC officials at Imgbi, Azikoro, Kpansia, Okaka and down to Opolo. 

Trouble started when some voters at Ward 3 Epie protested their inability to vote due to the non-availability of voting materials.

It took the timely intervention of the Commissioner of Police, Ben Okolo, who stormed the scene and pleaded for calm.

One of the protesters, who identified himself as John, said: “We left our homes very to exercise our franchise only to be denied the opportunity. We must be allowed to vote.

There was also a protest in Agudama Community in the Yenagoa Local Government Area of the state over a shortage of about 48,500 ballot papers meant for the Yenagoa/Kolokuma/Opokuma Federal Constituency elections.

The protesters, who gathered at Ward 4, Epie 1, which has 47 units, covering Agudama and Akenpai Communities, insisted that elections would not hold in the area until the missing ballot papers are replaced.

Journalists attacked

Also, some accredited journalists covering the elections in Bayelsa State were assaulted, their devices destroyed and chased out of Ebelebiri Community in the Sagbama Local Government Area of the state.

The victims include a reporter of Television Continental, TVC, Joseph Kunde and cameraman, Miebi Bina; a correspondent of Daily Post, Akam James; the Publisher of Upfront News Magazine, Princewill Sede and its Managing Editor, Jeany Metta.

The Bayelsa State Correspondent of Daily Post, said the election which began smoothly with election materials already in place at about 8:35 am, was disrupted when thugs suspected to be supporting one of the major political parties disrupted the process before descending on the journalist.

FCT: Late voting, snatching of BVAS

 In several parts of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja, the exercise was marred following the late commencement of polls across the territory.

Equally, some polling units in Apo, Bwari and Kubwa had no ink, while as of 9:40 am, voting could not also commence in most polling units in Pyakasa, Lugbe, EFAB, Kwali, Kuje town and around the CBN Quarters in Garki II.

The development was compounded as INEC said political thugs snatched six of its Bimodal Voter Accreditation System, BVAS in Delta and Katsina states.

Thugs destroy electoral materials

In Kuje Area Council, angry thugs disrupted electoral activities at the Kayarda polling Centre of Kuje Area Council.

The thugs destroyed sensitive materials in polling units, 026, 003, and 004. 

While voters scampered for safety, security personnel were able to restore law and order.

Edo: Ballot box snatching mars polls

In Edo State, there were reports of the destruction of already thumb-printed ballot papers, snatching of ballot boxes in some areas and burning of thumb-printed papers in others.

 Initial reports showed peaceful conduct of the exercise except for the late arrival of materials and INEC.

In Oredo Ward 4, Polling Unit 19 at Emokpae Primary School where Governor Godwin Obaseki voted, he called for a hastened process to accommodate the huge turnout of voters at the centre.

In Ward 7, units 1-6 of Oredo Local Government Area materials and INEC officials did not arrive until 10.20 am.

In Esan Central/Esan West/Igueben Federal Constituency in Edo State, the election for the House of Representatives was put on hold as a result of the omission of the Labour Party, LP, logo from the ballot paper.

The situation led to tension as some angry voters rejected the move saying it was an attempt to manipulate the election.

There are also reports of non-arrival of electoral materials in ward 7 unit 5 and all the polling units at Emuhi in Esan West Local Government Area.

Reports from Ujiogba, precisely Egure Primary School, Ujiogba indicated that the BVAS machine stopped functioning after accrediting some voters.

Also in Edo North, officers of the Nigeria Police arrested a middle-aged man and alleged LP agent for alleged vote buying.

The incident occurred at the voting centre of Mr Adams Oshiomhole, the APC Senatorial candidate in Edo North.

 Upon a search by security agents, the alleged voting buying agent had a long list of names and account numbers of some of the voters in the centre.

It was learned that after luring the people to vote for his candidates, the agent would then transfer money to their account with the help of a Point of Sale (POS) machine.

 He has since been moved to the police facility in Iyamho.

DELTA: Late voting 

In Warri, voting started late in several units across Warri South local government area of Delta State due to the late arrival of materials.

Accreditation and voting started in some wards at about 3 pm, a situation that almost dampened the excitement of voters.

By 11 am at the INEC office in Warri South, sorting of materials was still ongoing with electorates milling around.

 Voting, however, later commenced in some of the areas like Unit 6, Ward 9 Refinery road, Our Ladies High school, Orerokpe town, and some parts of Udu in Ughelli. 

 Materials arrived at Olodi primary school on Deco at about 3 pm. 

By 2:30 pm at Ugbuwanghe, voters lamented the late arrival of electoral materials.

Some angry voters had to storm out of their polling units after waiting for about seven hours. 

 ”People are disappointed here. People want to vote but no materials since morning. INEC arrived after 3 pm”, a voter lamented. 

Kwara: Ballot booklets destroyed 

Over three booklets of ballot papers were openly destroyed at polling unit 005 Agbeku, ECWA School in the Ifelodun local government area of Kwara State under the close supervision of party agents as a result of poor turnout.

Though non of the INEC officials was willing to talk about the development, Sunday Vanguard gathered that many of the electorates stayed away from the voting exercise because of the naira and fuel scarcity.

OGUN: BVAS fails to accredit Osoba, Oba Olugbenle

Though voting began late in some polling units in Ogun State, the election was generally peaceful.

At 8.45 am, voters at former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s polling booth were seen anxiously waiting for electoral materials and INEC officials.

Reports from Ilaro, in the Yewa South local government area of the state, indicated that relative peace characterised many polling units in Ilaro, Yewa South Local Government Area of Ogun, as electorates trickled out to cast their votes.

While some polling units experienced voters’ apathy others recorded massive turnouts.

However, at the State Hospital polling unit, the BVAS machine disenfranchised voters whose names began with the letter A to H as their names did not appear on the system.

The BVAS also failed to capture former Governor of Ogun State, Chief Olusegun Osoba and Olu of Ilaro and Paramount ruler of Yewaland, Oba Kehinde Olugbenle.

Osoba had earlier visited his pulling unit twice at the GRA Ward 14 Ibara Unit 1 in Ibara Housing Estate Abeokuta, but his face and fingerprints could not display on the BVAS machine and as a result, he was unable to exercise his franchise.

Speaking with newsmen, Osoba hinted that he had earlier visited the Polling unit in the morning with the voter card he used for the 2019 elections and he was denied to vote due to the failure of BVAS in capturing his face and fingerprints.

The former governor further explained that he decided not to vote because he doesn’t want a situation where BVAS will not capture a vote that is not captured in the unit. 

Expressing disappointment with the situation, he said he was encouraged by the huge turnout of the voters in the polling unit.

On his part, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who cast his vote at his Polling Unit 2, Ward 11, in Olushomi compound, Totoro-Sokori, Abeokuta North Local Government Area of the state at about 10.40a.m, said: “With this election, we have yet another opportunity to rewrite our history and we are hoping that with a new government in place, a lot and good things will happen in our country.

INEC blames NURTW 

In its defence, INEC blamed the late arrival of election materials in some parts of Ogun State on members of the National Union of Road Transport Workers, NURTW, contacted for logistics.

The Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC, Olaniyi Ijalaye, in a chat with newsmen after an on-the-spot assessment of the ongoing voting exercise in the area and at other polling units in the Ikenne LGA, blamed the delay in the commencement of voting and the unavailability of election materials in some areas in the state on late arrival of materials.

He said: “With all due respect, it is not just the governor’s polling unit but with a few others that had one or two challenges. 

“We had challenges with transportation. We are in collaboration with the NURTW and there are logistical issues that have now been resolved.”

Rivers: 2 killed, houses burnt

Two persons were, yesterday, feared dead in Ubimini Community ward 12, Emohua Local Government Area of Rivers State.

It was gathered that a pregnant woman and a member of a local vigilante group, EMOVIS, Emohua Vigilant Service, were killed.

It was gathered that about two houses were burnt in the incident at Ubimini, Emohua LGA, causing people to flee the area for safety. 

A source, who pleaded anonymity, gave the name of the pregnant woman as Ruth Osah and the EMOLVIS member as Mark Orduize.

The source noted that two houses were burnt, adding that the development halted the conduct of the elections in ward 12 Emohua LGA.

The President of Ubimini Youth Council, Mr Ikechukwu Wordu confirmed the development.

However, at press time, the spokesperson of the Rivers State Police Command, SP Grace Iringe-Koko, was yet to respond to the development.

INEC removes BVAS for repairs in Wike’s unit

The election was also characterised by the late arrival of INEC officials and materials at most voting centres.

While Governor Nyesom Wike said he was disappointed in the process at his Polling Unit 7A of Ward 9, Rumuepirikom, Obio/Akpor LGA where the BVAS initially failed to capture him; former Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, who had a seamless accreditation and voting, noted that results from a certain area in Obio/Akpor LGA would determine whether BVAS was credible or ineffective. 

The Rivers State governor chided INEC over poor preparations when the BVAS failed to function, denying him accreditation at his Polling Unit.

He lamented: “We are highly disappointed. INEC told us they were ready for the election and that BVAS worked. I don’t think that most people will be allowed to vote with the slow working of the BVAS. 

“I stayed about 25 minutes and was told to go and come back that they will rectify the BVAS. We are disappointed. If several people are disenfranchised, what do you expect?

“People will lose their temper and anything could happen. INEC ought to have been completely ready before telling the people they are ready.”

Following the failure of technicians in the unit team to rectify the BVAS, the INEC officials removed the machines for nearly two hours, keeping ready voters waiting before returning to accredit the governor and others, who then started voting.

Oyo: Ballot papers shortfall sparks off protest

Inadequate ballot papers for the elections, yesterday, sparked protests among many voters at ward 10 in Akinyele Local Government Area of Ibadan, Oyo State as voters vowed not to leave unless they got the ballot papers.

Vanguard gathered that out of 207 accredited registered voters, only 100 ballot papers were provided for the elections in the ward leaving the ward with a shortfall of 107 ballot papers.

An angry voter, who gave his name as Awe, said: “The problem is that the number of ballot papers that INEC officials brought for the presidential election was less than the number of registered voters.

“Ballot papers for the Senate and House of Representatives were adequate. Instead of 207 registered voters, only 100 ballot papers were brought for the presidential election. People who were given the two other ballots without the presidential one are angry.”

Asked to confirm the development, the Presiding Officer for the ward, Josephine Ifedigbe (an NYSC member), told newsmen on the phone that “It is true that instead of 207 accredited voters and 207 ballot papers given us for the Senate and the House of Representatives poll, only 100 ballot papers were given us for the presidential poll.

“We complained but they told us that was the number available. The shortfall of 107 is now the problem.”

Lagos: Thugs snatch ballot boxes 

Voters in Ikate in Eti-Osa Local Government Area of Lagos State could not cast their votes as hoodlums allegedly invaded the polling unit chasing away voters and destroying electoral materials.

According to eyewitnesses, the affected polling unit is close to the Oba of Elegushi’s palace.

However, the disenfranchised voters insisted they must exercise their civil responsibility before leaving the polling unit.

A resident reportedly said: “The information I got getting is that the violence erupted outside the Oba’s palace.

“The ballot boxes were snatched and everybody ran away. Thugs are still hanging around the area.”

An eyewitness, who voted in the polling unit inside the palace, tweeted: “The vote outside the palace was scattered by area boys. Ballot box jacked. Chased the presiding officer away.

“They just physically assaulted @EditiEffiong because he was videoing the whole thing. He tried running into the palace when they saw and chased him but they locked the gate. This is madness. The police officers here just stood and did nothing. They took his phone and deleted the video. I was outside when they chased and assaulted @EditiEffiong, tried recording but they are beating anyone recording here.”

But denying the allegation, the monarch, Oba Saheed Elegushi denied being involved in the disruption claiming that some strange faces stormed Ikate area to engage in electoral fraud under the guise of obtaining voter transfer from the INEC portal.

He said: “I have one question to ask the INEC: How can someone go to your website and make a transfer with a fake address and you did not verify it? We saw some strange faces; they don’t live in this vicinity. We are going to take it up after the election.”

Ballot boxes snatched 

In another part of the state, thugs were reported to have snatched ballot boxes at ward 027 Aratumi, Iba New Site in the Iba Council Development Area of the state in the presence of police officers, while voting was still ongoing.

Gunshots were fired into the air causing voters who scampered for safety, while INEC officials hurriedly gathered the voting materials and left.

Drivers hold INEC to ransom, demand cash payment 

Earlier, drives accredited by the INEC, and the National Association of Road Transport Owners, NARTO, to support the logistics and movement of electoral materials across Lagos State held the commission to ransom by demanding cash payment against cash transfers.

Speaking to Vanguard on the development, the Lagos State NARTO Task Force Chairman, Mr Adeyinka Omoba said that despite cash transfers made to the drivers, they still insisted on cash payment to feed and meet other sundry expenses.

Video of disenfranchised voters, misleading—LASU mgt

Following a viral video indicting the management of Lagos State University, LASU, of disenfranchising some certain ethnic groups from voting, the school has described the alleged viral video as malicious, and misleading.

A video where some persons alleged that the management of LASU denied them entrance to go cast their votes went viral.

But LASU, in a statement by its Registrar, Mr Emmanuel Fanu, described the video as misleading.

The statement reads: “The attention of the Lagos State University Management has been drawn to viral reports on social media to the effect that several individuals who came to the University Main Campus, Ojo, to exercise their franchise in the 2023 General Election of Saturday, February 25, 2023, were prevented from gaining entrance into the university campus where the polling unit is situated. 

“We wish to disclaim this report and state categorically that it is both inaccurate and malicious, and aimed at bringing the name of the university to disrepute by some members of the public. 

“It is imperative to note that Lagos State University did not shut its gates against some voters as purported. The University has been at the forefront of encouraging and educating members of the university community and the general to exercise their franchise, as evident on her social media platforms. 

Nasarawa: Absence of INEC officials stalls voting 

Prospective voters in some parts of Karu Local Government Area of Nasarawa State were unable to vote following the absence of INEC officials and voting materials in the polling units.

Some polling units visited were deserted by voters, who returned home after enduring to 2:50 pm, with expectations that materials were going to be deployed to the units by the commission.

Three polling units located at Nnyanya-Gbagi Primary School, Ado in Karu Local Government Area of the state were affected by the development.

There were neither INEC officials nor party agents at the polling units when Vanguard visited at about 2:45 pm.