March 19, 2023

20 killed as violence, apathy, glitches mar guber, assembly polls

By Our Reporters

NO fewer than 20 persons were feared killed, yesterday, as violence, suppression of voters and apathy took the upper hand in many locations across the country in the governorship and state assembly elections.

There was also non-arrival/late arrival of Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, officials in some polling units, malfunctioning of the Bimodal Voters Accreditation System, BVAS, machines, and refusal of electoral officers to upload results to the INEC Results Viewing Portal, IRev, from the polling booths as was witnessed during the February 25 presidential poll.

Incidents of BVAS and ballot paper snatching and destruction, vote-buying and selling were also reported.

These happened on a day when no fewer than five Vanguard reporters were attacked or harassed during the coverage of the elections in Lagos.

Meanwhile, 16 INEC ad-hoc staff were attacked and electoral materials, including ballot boxes, were destroyed at Odoakpu Ward 7, Onitsha South Local Government Area of Anambra State as 19 electoral officers were abducted and later rescued in Imo

State. The 20 lives were lost in Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Delta, Benue, Niger, Osun, just as many people sustained gunshot wounds.

5 feared dead, 1 injured, house razed in Delta

In Delta, five persons reportedly lost their lives at Mosogar and Oghara, in  Ethiope West Local Government Area during the polls.

Reports said four persons were shot dead at Mosogar and one at Oghara.   Suspected political thugs torched the residence of  former Chairman of Ethiope West LGA, Dr. Wilson Omene, an All Progressives Congress, APC, leader in the state.

At Evwreni, Ughelli North LGA, thugs went on the rampage, attacked INEC officials, and destroyed about three BVAS machines and electoral materials.

Some electoral officers sustained injuries, and the incident disrupted voting in polling units in the area. 

The rampaging thugs prevented a  team of journalists monitoring the elections from entering the community. 

Sources said some security personnel, who were deployed to the community, compromised, and they supervised the disruption process.

In the Mosogar mayhem, sources said the deceased persons died after an exchange of gunfire between security operatives and irate youths.

Some youths also threatened to revenge the death of one Oburuche, just as Omene accused a member of the opposition party of being behind the attack on his house and car. 

At Amukpe, near Sapele, a youth allegedly lost his hand during a clash in one of the polling units in the area

Unlike the February 25 presidential and National Assembly polls,  there was a low turnout of voters, yesterday, but electoral materials arrived early  at various polling units across Delta.

Reports said the polling materials arrived at the various RAC Centres on Friday, and as of 7.00 am, officials of the INEC had begun the distribution of the items to the various units.

As early as 10 am voting and accreditation had taken place in several polling units  in Warri, Uvwie, and other parts of the state.

Some voters stayed out of the exercise, saying  they doubted the sincerity  of the electoral umpire.

There was a noticeably high presence of security operatives in Asaba, the state capital, Ogwashi-Uku, Kwale, Oleh, Ozoro, Agbor, Ughelli, Obiaruku, and Aboh, as voting commenced between 8 am and 8.30 am in the areas.

Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, who voted at his Unit 17, Ward 02 (Eghoma Primary School), Owa-Alero in Ika North-East LGA at 9.50 am, said: “Everything is working perfectly here. However, there are a few issues of persons unable to get to their units because of restrictions, but we hope they are able to meet up before the close of the election.

  The governor’s daughter and House of Assembly candidate of the PDP for Ika North-East constituency, Marilyn Daramola, who also voted at the same centre with his father, expressed optimism that the party would triumph in both the governorship and House of Assembly elections.

The Delta State governorship candidate of the PDP, Sheriff Oborevwori, who voted at Oha Ward One, Unit 33, Osubi, Okpe LGA at exactly 9:30 am, expressed optimism that he would win, adding that his party had worked so hard for it.

Oborevwori said he expected that the INEC would conduct the exercise correctly and peacefully across the state, stressing that every critical stakeholder must strive to strengthen the democratic process in Nigeria.

His APC challenger, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, who cast his vote at his Orogun Ward 2 Unit 19, Ughelli North LGA at 11:11 am, expressed optimism that his party would win the polls.

Also the APGA Governorship Candidate, Chief Great Ogboru said: “Until this time, it has been peaceful. So let us see the situation later in the day. Let us hear the results if the uploading of the results of the units will take place before we can start to judge. 

“But the verification in the voting process was okay because the BVAS worked. It captured my thumbprint.”

In addition, the governorship candidates of the SDP and LP, Olorogun Kenneth Gbagi, and Mr. Ken Pela, respectively, expressed optimism that they would win the election.

The governorship candidate of the New Nigeria Peoples Party, NNPP, Sir Goodnews Agbi, said the INEC systematically schemed him out through the placement of a faded logo of his party in the ballot paper.

Agbi, who spoke after voting at Ikruvuha quarters, Oyede Ward 12, Unit 3, said he had briefed his legal team to study the circumstances and file a case against INEC over the development.

Five killed; Amaechi, Abe discredit process in Rivers 

In Rivers, five persons were feared killed during the polls.

Two deaths were reported in Bori, Khana LGArea, while three persons were claimed in Ogbakiri Community, Emohua LGA.

This happened as empty polling units, ballot boxes snatching, fake result sheets, non-availability of BVAS password, harassment of voters and other irregularities were recorded in parts of the state.

Three persons were feared killed in Ogbakiri Community, Emohua LGA while unidentified gunmen invaded Elibrada Community in the same LGA shooting sporadically.

The Chairman of the APC, Chief Emeka Beke, who aspoke after casting his vote at Ward Three Elibrada Community, Emohua LGA, said the development was worrisome.

Beke noted that the three victims were with a sitting lawmaker in the state and had hijacked ballot boxes before the military come in.

He said the three were killed as they were attempting to make away with the sensitive materials.

Beke said: “Today three people were killed in Ogbakiri. They were hijacking and snatching ballot boxes and they were killed. “

It was alleged that the APC candidate for Ahoada East State Constituency 2 seat in the polls, Ukalikpe Napoleon, had been kidnapped.

Amaechi expresses regrets over polls

Former Governor and Minister of Transportation, Chief Rotimi Amaechi, who is the leader of the APC in Rivers State, after voting  at his Ward 8, Unit 14, Ubima Community, Ikwerre LGA, expressed displeasure with the process.

Amaechi stated that even though the elections were peaceful in his community there were reports of arrest of candidates of the APC. He alleged that the materials brought for the elections at his unit were fake but that they decided to vote in order to allow peace to reign.

Abe describes poll as worst in history

Rivers SDP governorship candidate, Senator Magnus Abe, described the polls as the worst of all elections conducted in the state.

Abe regretted that over 40 persons, who are mainly his supporters, had been arrested and detained at the State Criminal Investigation Department in Port Harcourt, adding that their offence was that they refused to take bribe

While voters didn’t turn up

Wosu Chikanka Prince, an agent of one of the political parties, said electoral officers were ready since 8:00am but that there were no voters.

He said the reason could be as a result of fear and the incident of the February 25 polls where peoples’ will was thwarted.

EOs refuse to leave for polling units s over BVAS password

Meanwhile, Electoral Officers in Rivers State refused to leave the Registration Area Centres, RAC, for their polling units over non-availability of passwords for the BVAS.

The EOs, particularly in RAC 12, Ward 12, Rumuigbo in Obio/Akpor LGA, said the RAC Technicians refused to release the BVAS password insisting that the assess code for uploading results must be given to them before they would leave for their units.

The Assistant Presiding Officer (1) in one of the units in ward 12, Nsikak Okon, said there was disagreement between top officials of the RAC and the EOs.

Okon said the RAC-Techs refused to give out the password ward for uploading of the results and is asking them to go to the units first. “We have been having altercation since morning because they refused to give out the passwords for the BVAS, exactly what they did the last time that landed a lot of us into trouble.”

Election suspended in Asari-Toru

However, election was suspended at Asari-Toru LGA following non movement of INEC personnel and materials from the LGA RAC Centres in Buguma to the various voting areas.

One of the INEC Supervising Presiding Officer in charge of Asalga Ward 3, Dr Big Alabo Adokiye, who confirmed the development, said they await the decision of INEC in the state on information about rescheduling the elections in the area.

Six feared dead in Gboko, Benue

In Benue, no fewer than six persons were killed at different locations within Gboko LGA during the elections although the Local Government Council Chairman, Mr. Isaac Mtom, said he received report of an incident that claimed the life of an individual in Gboko South. 

It was gathered that security personnel allegedly shot dead a suspected ballot box snatcher while several others sustained injuries when they attempted to snatch ballot boxes during voting in Gboko South 

The source disclosed that one of the ballot box snatchers was killed in Abagu, a community in Gboko and another two were shot at different polling units at NKST Primary School Gboko South while the others were killed in Hausa quarters area of the town. 

He said: “The information we got is that the six persons were killed when they disrupted voting and  attempted to snatch ballot boxes at the different locations in Gboko.” 

Contacted, the Gboko LGA Chairman, Mr. Mtom said: “I have report of one incident in Gboko South and I am yet to confirm that the person is dead.” 

Reacting, the State Police Public Relations Officer, Superintendent, SP, Catherine Anene, said she was yet to receive details of the incidents.

One feared killed in Lagos, Vanguard reporters attacked

One person was feared dead in the clashes between thugs and voters in Ago, Okota area of Lagos.

In some polling units visited in Jakande Estate,Oke-Afa Isolo area of Lagos, there were complaints of harassment and intimidation of voters by some political thugs. 

These units included: Low Cost Primary and Secondary Schools, Water Corporation, NEPA Junction and those in the Bungalow Section of the estate.

Voters were chased away. Some of them alleged that thugs beat them up and deprived them of voting for candidates of their choice.

While these were going bottles, causing voters to scamper.

No fewer than five Vanguard reporters suffered one attack or the other from thugs who warned voters who were not willing to vote for a particular candidate to go home.

In spite of the hitches, the polls went seamlessly in many parts of the state

Sanwo-Olu, Rhodes-Vivour bicker violence threat

Meanwhile, the APC  cautioned the Labour Party, LP, governorship candidate, Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour, over his statement that INEC and security agents should be blamed if Lagos boiled over the polls.

Publicity Secretary of APC, Lagos, Seye Oladejo, who cautioned Rhodes-Vivour, in a statement, called on the police to arrest the LP candidate.

Oladejo said: “The attention of the All Progressives Congress has been drawn to a statement made by Labour Party (LP) governorship candidate, Gbadebo Chinedu Rhodes-Vivour, on today’s elections.

“He accuses the Independent National Electoral Commission and the police of ‘provoking Lagosians’ and warning that ‘if tonight Lagos catches fire, it is not our fault.’

  “He says ‘a lot of places are still under attack by thugs and hooligans of the APC.’ This scaremongering is typical of bad losers who lack the spirit of sportsmanship. 

“The security agencies should note Mr. Rhodes-Vivour’s threat to set Lagos on fire as his predilection for violence and warmongering is well known to Nigerians. 

“Should there be any breakdown of law and order in any part of our state, law enforcement agencies should know who to grab – Mr Rhodes-Vivour.”

Policeman, one other shot in Ondo amid voting-buying in dollars

In Ondo, violence, low turnout of voters, and vote-buying marred the polls.

In many council areas, despite the prompt arrival of polling officers and adequate security provided, the electorate failed to show up to vote.

INEC officials arrived polling units at 8:00am but voting did not commence until around 9:00am in many units.

Electoral officials waited for hours before voters started coming for accreditation.

As at 10am, polling units were scanty and INEC officials stayed idle at polling units.

Candidates had to employ the services of town criers to go round and appeal to the residents to come out and vote.

Aside some places where the BVAS   malfunctioned, it worked perfectly across the state, according to reports.

Loyalists of party candidates were seen handing over dollar notes to voters in many voting centres visited.

A policeman and a resident of Idanre, were reportedly hit by stray bullets during the elections.

Reports had it that the two victims were rushed to the general hospital in the town and were  receiving treatment.

The cause of the shooting could not be ascertained as of the time of filing this report.

There were also reported cases of snatching of ballot boxes in the area.

The state police spokesperson, Funmi Odunlami, said that “some thugs reportedly hijacked and destroyed ballot boxes and other voting materials during the elections in 10 of the 12 units in ward 12 at Ute in Ose Local Government area of Ondo State.”

The units where ballot boxes were destroyed included 1, 2, 3, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14 and 15, of Ward 12 at Ute.

Sunday Vanguard gathered that the thugs stormed nine units to destroy ballot boxes having realised that their sponsor was losing the election

It was also gathered that the thugs had earlier threatened voters that any attempt to vote for the other political parties in the area would be resisted.

Despite the threat, voters were said to have cast their votes for the other political party, hence the destruction of ballot boxes in the wards at Ute.

A reliable source alleged that some INEC officials were also attacked on their way to the collation center and ballot papers and other election materials destroyed and burnt. 

One killed by security operatives in Niger

A middle aged man was shot and he died instantly as the deceased and others engaged security agents in a scuffle.

They were throwing missiles at security agents at a polling unit in Sauka-kahuta area of Minna, Niger State capital.

It could not be immediately confirmed what ensued between the youths and the security personnel, including police and operatives of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, who manned the polling unit.

The corpse of the deceased was hurriedly ferried away by his colleagues.

Operatives of the EFCC also arrested an agent of one of the political parties for alleged vote-buying at Sabongari area of Minna.

The agent was said to have been caught while disbursing money to some voters at the polling unit and whisked away.

Meanwhile, Gbadagbadzu Polling Unit in Busu town, Lavun  LGA was invaded by thugs, who went straight to the tables where ballot boxes were placed and scattered the votes already cast.

Three people waiting anxiously for the counting of the votes already cast were injured by the thugs while presiding officers fled for safety. 

Contacted, spokesman for the state Police Command, DSP Wasiu Abiodun, promised to get back to Sunday Vanguard but was yet to do at press time.

One shot as hoodlums raid polling units in Osun

In Osun, one person was shot at a polling unit in Ward 4 in Ila-Orangun, Ila LGA during an argument on over-voting in the House of Assembly election that was marred by voter apathy.

While APC members were protesting over-voting recorded in Unit 3, some hoodlums shot at them, thereby disrupting the process.

INEC officers and security operatives arrived early, paving way for early commencement of voting.

While voting was ongoing smoothly across polling units in the state, hoodlums in an unregistered Toyota Sienna vehicle invaded polling units 10 and 11 of Ataoja ward 5 in Osogbo LGA and disrupted the process.

The hoodlums left in a hurry without taking ballot boxes, only to return later after voting had resumed at the two units and eventually dispersed voters by shooting sporadically into the air before carting away the ballot boxes at units 10 and 11, as well as ward 4, units 17 and 32.

Similarly in Ife-Central LGA, hoodlums invaded Iremo Ojatuntun ward 3 unit18 and destroyed both the used and unused ballot papers and boxes.

Thugs attack polling units injure, 16 INEC officials in Anambra

In Anambra State, more than 16 INEC ad-hoc staff were attacked and electoral materials, including ballot boxes, destroyed at Odoakpu Ward 7 in Onitsha South LGA during the House of Assembly election held in the state.

Five INEC adhoc staff were seriously wounded while 11 sustained  minor injuries during the attack by the hoodlums who were moving from one polling unit to the other in Ward 7 and other wards in Onitsha South LGA.

The hoodlums carted away some ballot boxes, and destroyed them and scattered other voting materials being used for the election.

Some of the voting units invaded were at Nnewi Street, Margret Street and Metu Memorial Secondary School.

Thugs in military uniform hijack materials in Ebonyi

In Ebonyi State, thugs in their numbers stormed Oshiegbe and Umuezeokoha Wards in Ezza North LGA and hijacked electoral materials meant for the elections.

Ezza North LGA is the stronghold of the APGA governorship candidate, Prof Benard Odoh.

Voters also protested alleged burning of electoral materials such as BVAS machine and other sensitive materials in Omege Ward, Ezza North LGA.

Mr. Nwafor Benjamin, an APGA Ward Agent for the ward, described the situation as unfortunate, stressing that the development had deprived the people of the area their right to vote.

Confirming the incident, the Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Ebonyi State Police Command, SP Onome Onovwakpoyeya, said electoral materials were being resent to the affected polling unit as election will still be conducted there. 

Contacted, Ebonyi Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC, Mrs. Onyeka Ugochi, said she had received similar reports and that the Commission was working towards the conducted of election in the affected  areas.

Speaking with Sunday Vanguard on phone, the APGA governorship candidate alleged that the ruling APC had imported lots of thugs who were busy disrupting election at various polling units across Ezza North Local Government Areas of the state.

He alleged that three voters were shot in his polling unit as election materials were destroyed.

He called on INEC to consider re-conducting election in various polling units, where election was disrupted and materials destroyed.

Reacting to the allegations, the APC Chairman in Ebonyi State, Chief Stanley Okoro-Emegha, denied the involvement of his party in such mayhem and asked Odoh to know that he could  not become governor through violence and other forms of electoral misdemeanor.

Also, speaking, PDP governorship candidate, Dr. Chukwuma Odii, stated that there were pockets of violence in virtually all parts of the state.

Odii, who stated this while interacting with journalists after casting his vote at Nworie Town Hall Polling Unit 025 in Isu-Achara in Onicha Local Government Area of Ebonyi State, accused the ruling APC of desperation to retain power at all costs.

Alleged vote-buyers   injure EFCC staff in Kaduna

Operatives of the EFCC on election monitoring duty in Kaduna State, yesterday, came under attack at School Road, Unguwan Rimi Kaduna while attempting to arrest a suspected vote-buyer.

Wilson Uwujaren, Head, Media and Publicity of the EFCC, in a statement, explained that the team, working on intelligence on the alleged activities of one Kabiru Musa, who was seen in an   amateur video allegedly inducing eligible voters by using his phone to transfer money into their accounts as they cast their votes, had mobilized to the scene to arrest the suspect.

However, immediately he was accosted by the operatives, Musa became unruly and screamed to attract the attention of his syndicate members, who descended on the operatives, using all manner of weapons that left some of them injured. It took great restraints for the operatives to ignore the unprovoked attack but insisted on arresting the suspect.

As the team drove away with the suspect, their vehicle was pelted with stones and other dangerous objects that damaged the windshield and three operatives suffered varying degrees of injuries in the process.

The injured operatives were said to be receiving medical attention at the Medical Centre of the Kaduna Zonal Command, while the suspect was taken custody, pending conclusion of the investigation.

Voter apathy in Plateau as candidates claim victory

There was low turnout of voters across polling units in Plateau State as INEC officials were seen setting up at the different units, waiting for voters at 8.40 am.

It was gathered that there was mixed up of some sensitive materials as some result sheets of some local government areas were taken to some other local government areas fuelling some suspicion of sabotage.

However, at some parts of the Mangu local government area, there was an improved number of voters at the Pushik 1 polling unit, Ampang West where the PDP governorship candidate, Caleb Mutfwang, cast his vote.

Speaking shortly after voting,  Mutfwang said that he expected the votes of the people to count and that the process would continue and end peacefully.

Speaking on the alleged mix-up of the sensitive materials, he said: “I heard some materials meant for Riyom were moved to Bokkos, we hope this is a genuine mistake that should be urgently sorted out. Voters should be calm as we expect the right things would be done.”

Also, Dr. Patrick Dakum of the Labour Party, LP and Dr. Nentawe Yilwatda of the APC, who voted at their respective polling units at Pankshin and Kanke LGAs, expressed hopes of winning.

On his part, APC’s Nentawe Yilwatda, after casting his vote at the Dungung B polling unit at the LEA Primary School in Ampang East, Kanke LGA, expressed optimism of winning the election.

PDP, APC trade words in Kwara over results

Governorship candidate of the PDP in Kwara State, Alhaji Yaman Abdullahi, yesterday, disagreed with the APC over the outcome of the polls, claiming victory.

Abdullahi, in an interview expressed hope to win the election, saying that information across the state indicated that he was the favourite. 

Speaking with journalists at Kuchita primary school, Polling Unit 003 in Tsonga after casting his vote, the leading opposition governorship candidate said: ‘If you look at the last election results and studied them very well, yes, Asiwaju won but the senatorial and House of Representatives were won by just 20,000 votes. And this was an election that was funded by APC with over one billion naira.”

Meanwhile, the House of Reps member-elect for Edu/Moro/Patigi federal constituency, Alhaji Saba Ahmed Adamu, said he was satisfied with the conduct of the elections by INEC. 

Also Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, described the February 25 presidential and National Assembly elections as one of the most transparent and credible elections Nigeria has ever had.

He added that the introduction of BVAS has been a game changer in the electoral process in the country.

Alhaji Mohammed spoke in Oro, Irepodun local government area of the state shortly after casting his vote at Oro Ward 2 polling unit 006 in yesterday’s elections.

Tight security, low voters turnout in Edo

In Edo there was massive voter apathy as people voted amid very tight security in every major road especially in Benin-City, the state capital.

Many security operatives from the police, army and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) were civil except a squad led by the second in command of Mopol who identified himself simply as CSP Isah but was with men without name tags and prevented journalists from carrying out their duties and threatened to arrest them including a Vanguard reporter for driving in a  convoy.

Despite the journalists showing the officer their INEC accreditation tags, he insisted they were on illegal duty since they did not have pass and police escort. When informed, the Police Public Relations Officer, Chidi Nwabuzor, simply said “noted.”

Obaseki votes, exudes confidence

At Emokpae Primary School where Governor Godwin Obaseki voted, turnout was low and he attributed the low turnout to heavy presence of security who he said were scaring voters away.

Obaseki exuded confidence that his party, the PDP, would win most of the 24 House of Assembly seats.

Enugu LP candidate laments violent election

The Governorship candidate of the Labour Party, LP, in Enugu State, Mr. Chijioke Edeoga,  lamented pockets of violence during the polls in the state.

Edeoga disclosed that in Isi-Uzo LGA, more than 30 armed thugs were arrested, same in Nsukka, Enugu East, Enugu North and Nkanu West LGA of Enugu State.

The arrested thugs were alleged to have worn police and army uniforms and forced voters to cast their votes for a particular party.

According to Edeoga: “Elections were disrupted at Timber Area  in Trans Ekulu, Coal Camp Ward 5 and 6 Amorji, Eden Mbuluoweghe. Some dressed in military uniform while others dressed in police uniform and local government chairmen coordinated them.”

A’Ibom PDP, YPP in fresh controversy over killing of two

The PDP and Young Progressives Party, YPP, in Akwa Ibom State were enmeshed in   controversy over the death of two suspected thugs killed during the polls in the state.

The governorship candidate of the YPP, Senator Bassey Akpan, accused the police attached to Akwa Ibom State Government House, Uyo of killing the duo and his supporters who hailed from his Ibiono Ibom LGA.

Akpan, popularly called OBA, who made the allegation in his polling unit at Ididep Usuk community while responding to questions from reporters shortly after he voted, noted that the polls were peaceful in his areas except for the sad incident.

But reacting, the state Commissioner for Information &   Strategy, Mr. Ini Ememobong, who spoke with newsmen at the end of the voting exercise in his village, Use Ndon in the same Ibiono Ibom LGA, noted that they intended to collate all the infractions recorded during the elections, and ensure that the accuser(s) had their day in court.