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Kogi, Bayelsa polls: Wada, Bello clearing strongholds

  • Lyon, Diri in neck and neck
  • PDP, APC trade accusations of rigging
  • 2 Killed as widespread violence, abduction, ballot box snatching mar elections
  • APC forced INEC, NYSC officials to sign pre-filled result sheets – PDP
  • INEC: Politicians squandered opportunity for peaceful polls
  • Jonathan, Dickson unhappy
  • INEC official kidnapped, police woman thrown into creek
  • Bello, Wada speak
  • Observers, journalists attacked
  • PDP calls for cancellation in 2 Kogi LGs

 

Results trickled in late yesterday from a few polling units and wards after voting ended in Bayelsa and Kogi states where governorship elections were held.

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Despite complaints of violence, late arrival of electoral materials, vote buying and intimidation of voters in many areas in the two states, the election was concluded in many parts of the two states.

The contests were essentially between candidates of the two main political parties – the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

The major contenders were leading in their respective strongholds, as results from some polling units showed.

Voting going on peacefully at Aiyegunle Ward, Unit 004 in Ijumu LGA of Kogi

Though final results were not declared at press time, tallies after counting at polling units visited by our correspondents showed that the respective candidates were doing well in their areas.

In Kogi, 24 candidates took part in the election with the incumbent Yahaya Bello of the APC squaring up with Engr. Musa Wada of the PDP.

At press time yesterday, results from only a few wards and polling units were announced, with the PDP candidate in Kogi, Musa Wada, winning his polling unit by landslide.

Wada won his Ward 4 Unit 001in Dekina LGA with 1,223 votes while Bello got 150 votes.

In Makutu (2),Yagba east Senatorial District in Kogi West, the APC got  124 while the PDP polled  270.  Results from PU 014, Ward 10, in Ibaji LGA indicated that the APC got 98 votes while  the PDP got 223.

In Ankpa LGA, at Ankpa Township Opulegba beside roundabout PU 001,  the PDP got 318 while the APC got  94, in PU : 07 Ward : 03(Odo Ere/Oke Ere) in Yagba West Senatorial District,   APC got  50 while PDP got 91.

In Polling unit 002 Orokere Police Station Frontage, Mopamuro LGA, APC: 33 PDP: 117 SDP: 2.

Early results from Bayelsa indicated that in  Atissa ward 1, unit 9, Yenagoa Local  Government Area,  the PDP got 77 while APC got  94 votes.

In Ikibiri unit 2, Yenagoa Local Government Area PDP had 51 while the APC had 108 votes.

In Agudama-Epie, ward 4, unit 12, Yenagoa Local Government, PDP- 24 and APC – 368.

Two persons were reportedly killed in Abocho community of Dekina LGA during yesterday’s governorship election in Kogi State.

The election was characterised by widespread violence, snatching of ballot boxes, intimidation of voters, vote buying and voter inducement across the state.

Residents gave the names of those victims in Abocho as Umoru Shuaib and Faruk Suleiman.

Witnesses said the incident happened while voting was ongoing at Barracks Polling Unit 1 at Abocho.

They said the assailants from all indications came for Umoru Shaibu, one of the victims.

“They came in a bus while voting was taking place and were in police uniforms so we didn’t suspect anything.

“Umoru had voted and was chatting with Faruk close to the poling unit when the bus drove by. None of the occupants who were in police uniforms alighted from the vehicle.

“We just heard gunshots and shouts from the victims as well as onlookers. In the ensuing pandemonium, the attackers drove off,” Mr Michael Ochimamna told Daily Trust on Sunday.

Major streets in Anyigba were deserted when one of our correspondents visited the area. Stones and sticks littered the streets, while tyres earlier burnt by youths protesting the attack were still emitting smoke.

Our correspondent reports that there were also sporadic gunshots in some other communities in Kogi East shortly after the commencement of voting.

Sporadic gunshots were heard in Emewe Okpada and part of Ajiyolo communities in Dekina Local Government Area.

 

Widespread snatching of ballot boxes

There were reported cases of snatching of ballot boxes across polling units in the state.

Suspected thugs attacked Senator Dino Melaye’s polling unit in Aiyetoro Gbede in Ijumu LGA. Daily Trust on Sunday learnt that Melaye had earlier cast his vote and left the place before the thugs invaded to disrupt the process and carted away ballot boxes and papers.

Senator Melaye and Smart Adeyemi are in a hot contest for Kogi West Senatorial Seat following the nullification of Melaye’s earlier victory by an election tribunal.

In Aikpele-Ajaka polling Unit 002, Igalamela-Odolu LGA, armed men wearing masks reportedly shot sporadically into the air, disrupting the exercise as voters and INEC officials took to their heels. Natives said the assailants snatched ballot boxes and drove away.

 

Shootings, ballot box snatching in state capital

In a similar vein, there were sporadic shootings and ballot box snatching across some polling units in Lokoja, the state capital.

Armed thugs stormed polling units at Crowther Memorial School in Lokoja and shot sporadically to disperse voters after which they carted away ballot boxes.

Also at Muslim Community Secondary School in Lokoja, suspected thugs invaded polling units and shot sporadically to disrupt the voting process. Ballot boxes were also snatched while voters scampered to safety.

Ballot boxes were also snatched at from polling units at SUBEB, Lokoja Club, St. Mary by Paparanda Square, Fentolu and Army Barracks all in Ward A of Lokoja, the state capital.

Suspected thugs also invaded polling units at Ganaja Village, Ajaokuta LGA and snatched ballot boxes. At SUBEB, an INEC official was kidnapped.

Kogi SDP guber candidate, Natasha Akpoti

Voters complain over use of 2015 stamps

Some voters in Kogi East complained of the use of ballot papers with 2015 stamps in the exercise. Tenimu Osalifu who voted at Odo Ward one, Unit 001 told Daily Trust on Sunday that the anomaly raised suspicion of planned malpractices.

“We discovered that the 2015 stamp was being used on ballot papers s sent to some polling units instead of 2019 in Dekina and this is raising concerns about INEC’s partisanship,” he said. Our correspondent learnt that the situation was more prominent in Dekina Local Government Area.

 

Election largely peaceful in Kogi Central

Election in Kogi Central Senatorial District where the candidate of the APC and incumbent governor, Yahaya Bello, hails from, was largely peaceful.

Our correspondents report that voters turned out in their numbers across polling units in Okene, Adavi, Okehi, Ajaokuta and Ogorimagongo to exercise their franchise.

80-year-old Ado Momoh of Polling Unit 018 Ward 1 Near Atto’s compound at Adavi Local Government Area in Kogi Central expressed delight for the opportunity to exercise his franchise. He said he had voted over the past four decades of his life to elect leaders, adding that his expectation was that his preferred candidate should bring development to his community if he emerges victorious.

According to him, he had been impressing it upon the voters on the need to conduct themselves peacefully during and after the election.

Also, election in Kogi West senatorial was also peaceful largely with exception of pockets of ballot box snatching and violence reported in some areas in Ijumu and Kabba.

 

Bello, Wada speak on election

Governor Bello shortly after casting his vote expressed satisfaction with the voting process.

He commended INEC for a better organized electoral process this time around. Bello also commended security agencies for the adequate security deployments to polling units for election.

Speaking after casting his vote, the governorship candidate of the PDP, Engr Musa Wada, said, “It looks peaceful for now, although for APC, their stock in trade is to snatch ballot boxes.

“There was an attempt by one of their hooligans but he was repelled but you know they will always go to regroup and come back. I have advised the voters to stay through to defend their votes very well.”

He expressed optimism of emerging victorious at the end of the day.

 

Observers, journalists attacked

Some local observers and journalists covering the election were also attacked during the election.

A correspondent with Leadership newspaper, Sam Egwu and a staff member of Radio Kogi, Sunny Omachi, narrowly escaped death.

A vehicle conveying the journalists who were on election duty at Anyigba, Dekina LGA, ran into the crossfire, shattering their wind screen.

Mr Omachi said they were saved by the timely intervention of security personnel drafted to keep in peace in the area.

A Punch correspondent was attacked at Aiyetoro Gbede in Ijumu Local Government Area and his vehicle’s windscreen was shattered. Some observers from YIAGA AFRICA, Centre for Democracy Development (CDD) and Search for Common Ground were equally assaulted by suspected political thugs in the cause of their observation duty.

YIAGA AFRICA and Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) in their separate preliminary statements issued yesterday on their field reports for the Kogi governorship election, expressed concerns over widespread cases of violence, snatching of ballot boxes, vote buying and voter inducements.

YIAGA AFRICA in the statement issued by Dr. Hussaini Abdu and the Project Director, Samson Itodo, indicated that vote buying and voter inducement were observed at many polling units.

The statement said it received reports that voters were paid N5,000 in some cases in exchange for their votes.

“At Aluaja, Iyano Ward in Ibaji LGA, INEC officials were given N15,000 and security agents N5,000 to compromise the process”, the statement said.

YIAGA AFRICA also observed cases of non use of card readers for accreditation, intimidation, harassment and disruption of polling unit processes across some polling units during the election.

It urged INEC to cancel elections in polling units with cases of snatching of ballot papers/boxes, violence and disruptions.

It condemned “blatant vote buying observed within proximity of the polling units”, adding that voters should respect the secrecy of the ballot by complying with the laid down procedures for voting.

Similarly, the Director, CDD, Idayat Hassan, in a preliminary statement said reports of violence and snatching of ballot boxes were received from across some polling units in the state.

She particularly expressed concerns over widespread incidents of ballot box snatching, saying it called to question, the heavy presence of security agents.

CDD observed that poll officials came under undue pressure by political gladiators to subvert the process at Polling Unit 004, Odu Ogboyaga in Dekina LGA.

It also condemned what it described as “coordinated disruption” of the voting process by thugs.

 

Election disrupted by violence, late distribution of materials in Bayelsa 

Violent disruption of electoral process by armed thugs, late distribution of electoral materials and malfunctioning card readers  marred yesterday’s governorship election in Bayelsa State.

There were early hitches in the distribution of electoral materials at former president Goodluck Jonathan’s Otuoke community in Ogbia LGA, and some wards in Yenagoa LGA where late arrival of materials delayed early take-off of voting.

Former president Goodluck Jonathan  expressed disappointment with the late arrival of election materials to his polling Unit 39 in Otuoke under ward 13 of Ogbia LGA. Jonathan, who was expected to cast his vote in the morning, met only journalists on ground when he arrived at his polling unit at about 8:30am.

As at 10:30 a.m, the materials were yet to arrive at the polling unit.

 

Armed thugs attack polling units

Armed thugs attacked polling units in Opolo, Yanagoa LGA, shooting sporadically to disrupt the process with some casualties. Political parties sharing money caused disruption of the process in Futire polling unit  at Ward 6 in Otuasega, Ogbia LGA, while thugs seized election materials and boats conveying  materials in Wards 12 and 13 of Okpoama in Southern Ijaw.

There were also reports that a boat conveying election materials and polling officials that were deployed to 4 polling units 10, 11, 12 and 14 in Apoi Ward 15 in Kologebene community in Southern Ijaw was also hijacked.

There was also a reported case of the abduction and release of four officials of INEC in Bumodi-Gbene in Yenagoa and Ologi in Ogbia LGA.

Our reporters gathered that officials of INEC on election duty were abducted in Bumodi-Bgbene community in Ekpetiama clan of Yenagoa LGA.

It was learnt that the officials were rounded up by some irate youths suspected to be thugs and taken to a building  where they were locked up and held incommunicado.

At Angiama community of Southern Ijaw, election materials meant for the area were intercepted and hijacked by suspected thugs.

One of the ad-hoc staff, an NYSC member who managed to escape from the scene, said a police woman was pushed into a creek while the whereabouts of three officials were  unknown at press time.

 

Voting cancelled in Ologi

At Ologi (Ward 03) of Ogbia LGA, a senior electoral official announced the cancellation of voting due to the violent incident that included seizing of an electoral official.

The official, Ukuachukwu Orji, who is the INEC supervisory resident electoral commissioner for Ogbia LGA, said members of the Ologi community forcibly prevented election in the riverine area.

“As our people (electoral officers) were coming into the community after crossing the river, they seized them and the materials and burnt all the materials. They chased our people away and seized some but the military rescued them,” he said.

Mr Orji, who is the REC for Anambra State, spoke in Otuoke (Ward 13 of Ogbia LGA) where Jonathan and his family voted. He said election in the community was cancelled as a consequence of the violence.

He expressed satisfaction that election was smooth in other communities that form the local government area, except in Ologi.

 

APC reacts to violence, hijacking

Amos Jotham, the APC state chairman in Bayelsa State decried alleged high level of election violence and hijacking of materials in parts of the state.

He specifically noted widespread violence in Yenagoa, the state capital, precisely in Yelga Ward 2, Onopa community and Opolo where materials were allegedly hijacked by PDP thugs who shot sporadically to disperse voters.

He urged security agencies to take note of the situation and bring those responsible to book.

While calling on all the APC supporters to maintain peaceful conduct throughout the process, he noted that it was very glaring that the APC was coasting to victory because of the popularity and acceptance of its flag bearer, David Lyon.

 

Dickson sad with conduct of election

The Bayelsa State Governor, Seriake Dickson, who voted at Orierwari Polling Unit 005, Toru Orua in Sagbama Local Government Area, urged INEC to cancel the election in some parts of the state, saying the exercise was characterized by alleged brigandage, hijacking of electoral materials and INEC personnel.

Dickson also called for outright cancellation of the elections in Nembe Local Government Area where he alleged that over 20 PDP members were killed by armed APC militia during an aborted campaign rally of the PDP.

“I call on the chairman of INEC to issue an order canceling the process in all the wards in all the local government areas affected, in all the wards and units where materials have been stolen or hijacked, where officials have been kidnapped and held hostage to enable the APC cook up non-existing figures,” he stated.

He said some of the PDP supporters who were attacked during the campaign in Nembe were still gasping for breath on their hospital beds and called on the APC-led federal government to live up to its primary responsibility of protecting lives and property of Nigerians.

“Materials meant for Eniwari community, Opuama ward, most locations in Southern Ijaw as we earlier predicted were hijacked. As everyone knows, the APC has no foothold in Bayelsa to win an election but they have an armed militia, surveillance contractors who kill and maim for the APC.  They also have the Nigerian Army and rogue elements of the police force working in concert with them to deny the citizens of these communities their right to vote,” he added.

“So as we speak, in our country, in this day and age, gun wielding militia men with the aid of security forces have overrun the election officials and most of the electoral officials in Southern Ijaw. These officials, as we speak, have been kidnapped and held hostage. This has been the lot; this has been what we’ve been managing since 2015, with APC at the center, not caring about the lives and dignity of our people. The APC at the center is too hungry and determined to make Nigeria a one party state.”

 

PDP’s Douye Diri raises alarm

The governorship candidate of the PDP, Senator Douye Diri, raised alarm over pockets of alleged electoral fraud in some parts of the state.

Diri, who voted in Unit 4 Ward 6 at his community Sampou, Kolokuma/Opokuma LGA, said while the election was peaceful and orderly in his area, the same could not be said of some parts of the state.

According to him, members of the APC were having a field day in Southern Ijaw, Nembe, Ogbia and Yenagoa where they were using security agents to intimidate PDP supporters. He urged INEC not to accept “cooked” figures as results and tasked security agents to protect voters.

 

Flood threatens voting in Diri Local Government

The entire community of the PDP governorship candidate, Senator Diri  in Sampo was submerged by flood,  thereby preventing voters and INEC staff from accessing all the polling units there.

Commercial canoe operators helped the people cross to dry ground to cast their vote.

A boat conveying journalists to Diri’s polling unit in Sampou capsided in the river, but there were no casualties. A NAN reporter, Mr Nathan Nwakama, lost his valuables.

 

Elderly, physically challenged vote

Ederly men and physically challenged persons voted during the election at Atissa Ward 3 Unit 9, where an 80-year-old retired Commissioner of Police, Walson Odumeya, said he was voting for the 8th time.

Also, a physically  challenged Godspower Moses said he was voting for the third time.

 

INEC: Politicians squandered opportunity for peaceful polls

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has reacted to the reported violence, vote buying and other irregularities recorded in the ongoing governorship and other bye-elections in Bayelsa and Kogi states.

Mr. Rotimi Lawrence Oyekanmi, the Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to the INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, told Daily Trust on Sunday in an exclusive interview that it was unfortunate that some politicians squandered the golden opportunity that the elections presented to tell the world that peaceful elections are possible in the country.

“The outbreak of violence in some parts of Bayelsa and Kogi yesterday is very disappointing. The extent of it is still being collated,” Oyekanmi said.

He, however, said there were several areas in both states where the voting process went very well and the turnout was quite impressive.

According to him, INEC did its best to persuade the political actors to abandon the path of violence and remove the not-too-good reputation attached to the two states as far as elections are concerned.

He said the INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, had appealed directly to political parties during stakeholders’ meetings and also led a strong team of officials to both Yenegoa and Lokoja on two occasions to meet with stakeholders and appealed to them to help INEC conduct peaceful elections.

“It was the first time in the history of governorship elections that the INEC chairman would hold such two stakeholders’ meetings with political actors. Political actors also signed peace accords in the two states, committing themselves to peace.

“But it is very unfortunate that some politicians squandered the golden opportunity that this election presents to tell the world that peaceful elections are possible here,” he said.

When asked about the open vote buying in the two states, especially in Kogi, the spokesman said he was not sure that the incidence of vote buying was all that widespread because plans were put in place to arrest any individual that engaged in it.

He said if vote buying took place at all, it could not have been widespread and the commission expected that the police might have made some arrests.

When asked why these challenges occured despite INEC’s planning and assurances, Mr. Oyekanmi said the commission was prepared to implement all aspects of its elaborate plans for the two elections.

He said, “If there was any Registration Area or Polling Unit where election did not take place or begin as planned, there must have been some interference. But it is too early now to draw final conclusions. Things will become clearer tomorrow.”

 

APC forced INEC, NYSC officials to sign filled result sheets in Kogi—PDP

The PDP yesterday alleged that INEC, agents of Governor Yahaya Bello and the APC threatened  and forced INEC’s presiding officers including NYSC members to endorse prefilled results sheets in favour of the APC in some local government areas ahead of the polls.

The party in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said this took place in Okene and Okehi LGAs of Kogi Central Senatorial zone, where the party said the governor and APC were desperate to allocate fictitious votes and fabricate results in their favour.

The PDP urged INEC not to accept any results coming from the Okene and Okehi local government areas as they had been compromised.

“The PDP and other stakeholders in this election will never accept manipulated results coming from the two local government areas.

“The party also calls on security agencies to immediately detail a reinforced team to Okene and Okehi to save the lives of the presiding officers and the NYSC members from the APC and agents of Yahaya Bello.

“INEC and security officials must take immediate steps to arrest the situation as the development is already causing tension and could lead to the electorate having no option than to resort to self-help to defend their democratic rights.

“The PDP also urges INEC to note that the APC is manipulating the electoral process, causing deliberate delays and swapping of election materials, all in a bid to cause confusion in the process.

“For instance, in Kabba/Bunu Okekoko Ward Unit 9, the baby units have been reduced from two to one, a situation that will lead to disenfranchising of voters to reduce votes belonging to the PDP.

“Also the serial number on the ballot papers brought to the area is different from numbers on ballot papers released in Abuja for the area.

“Such swapping of ballot papers is a deliberate ploy to cause confusion and derail the electoral process in PDP stronghold. The PDP therefore urges INEC to immediately correct all the anomalies as every genuine vote cast must be made to count in this election,” the PDP said.

 

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