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One dies as violence mars Lokoja/Kogi by-election

One person was feared killed yesterday in Lokoja, the Kogi State capital following  pockets of violence that trailed the Lokoja/Kogi by-election.

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Daily Trust learnt from eyewitnesses that trouble started when suspected thugs invaded NEPA polling unit in Ward ‘A’ of Lokoja and snatched ballot boxes. 

The voters in the area reportedly chased after them to retrieve the ballot boxes and in the ensuing melee, one person died. 

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When contacted, Spokesman of the Kogi State Police Command, William Aya confirmed the incident, saying the remains of the deceased had been deposited in the mortuary. 

He said that the identity of the deceased was yet to be ascertained, adding that investigation is on into the matter. 

In the same vein, two agents of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) were reportedly shot by suspected political thugs at FMC junction in Lokoja. 

Media aide to the candidate of the SDP, Umar Ali said the victims were rushed to a hospital where there are receiving attention.

Our correspondent reports that the by-election for Lokoja/Kogi federal constituency recorded mass turnout of voters amidst alleged cases of vote buying, intimidation of voters by security agents/thugs and snatching of ballot boxes across some of the polling units in the federal constituency. 

In Lokoja, voting was disrupted at Paparanda Polling Unit in Ward B and ballot boxes/electoral materials snatched by thugs who allegedly invaded the area in company of some security agents. 

There were also reported cases of ballot snatching and intimidation of voters at polling units in Crowther Memorial College, Adankolo Primary School, St Mary Church and opposite NEPA, amongst others.

Candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Umar Ahmed Imam alleged that some of his agents were harassed and manhandled by thugs, alleging that the security agents were "heavily compromised".

In Kogi local government area, the turnout of voters was massive and the election  largely peaceful in most of the places visited.

However, there were allegations of electoral malpractice at Osuku polling unit where the voters where only allowed to do accreditation but were not given the ballot papers to thumbprint.

Meanwhile, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has indicated that election might be cancelled in areas where there were disruptions and threats to its officials.

INEC’s Commissioner in charge of Kogi, Nasarawa and Kwara States,  Mohammed Haruna stated this during a tour of some of the polling units where election were disrupted in Lokoja. 

"Anywhere where there are disruptions, if the disruption is sufficient enough and there are threats to our officials, we will cancel the election. 

"We are going around with the REC now to access the situation on the ground to know whether to cancel the election or bring reinforcement to conclude the election", he said. 

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