Supplementary Polls: Low Turnout, Ballot Box Snatching Mar Exercise
A stray bullet in Anyigba, Kogi State, felled one person during the exercise, while the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) was held hostage for hours in Adogo, Ajaokuta local government area.
Members of the REC’s entourage scampered for safety, as angry youths, protesting non-availability of ballot papers at some units, damaged the INEC office and some official vehicles.
Also in Ayingba, youths loyal to the PDP and APC on Friday engaged one another in a gun battle that left several persons with bullet wounds.
In Ikwuano Council and at Azumiri Ward, Umuahia South Council of Abia State, voters were harassed, beaten up and intimidated by thugs determined to disrupt the voting process.
Also, a ballot box was snatched from an INEC official at 008 Usaka Ukwu Ward, in Ikwuano.
At Ahiaeke in Umuahia Ibeku, the vehicle of a chieftain of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) was burnt, while the arm of the driver of the vehicle was chopped off.
Although there was low turnout of voters, INEC, however, performed better with the use of card readers, as almost all the polling units had less complaint on the device.
A common protest, however, was the absence of incident forms. At the Industrial Ward II Unit 15, in Aba North, where the card reader failed repeatedly, local election observers harped on the absence of incident forms.
Low turnout of voters and ballot box snatching were reported in Imo State.
Armed persons suspected to be political thugs snatched boxes in Omuma, council headquarters of Oru East. The men invaded polling booths 006 and 008, at about 1.30pm, shooting into the air to scare away voters before carting away the boxes.
An eyewitness said the thugs numbering about five arrived in sports utility vehicles and overpowered security officials guarding the booths. There were also reports of intimidation by soldiers deployed to provide security for the election. Journalists from the state-owned broadcasting corporation were reportedly detained for hours at a checkpoint in Ubomiri, outskirts of Owerri metropolis. Asked why, one of the soldiers told The Guardian that they were carrying out their job as instructed.
Recounting his experience, a journalist, Uche Onyeoziri, said a soldier simply walked to his vehicle and dispossessed him of his car keys without giving any explanation.
Low turnout was also recorded in Ekiti State in Ilejemeje Constituency in Ilejemeje Local Government Area of Ekiti State. The election was, however, peaceful.
Police Commissioner, Mr. Joshua Ibine, deployed a large number of his men to the 22 units in Eda Oniyo, Iludun and Iye Ekiti, headquarters of the council. The officers mounted checkpoints at Ewu Ekiti, Ijesa Modu, Iludun and Ipere Ekiti, preventing commuters and road users from entering the council. There were also large contingents of soldiers and officers of the State Security Service (SSS), who patrolled the council to forestall breakdown of law and order.
A former commissioner in the State, Mr. Folorunso Olabode, said the low turnout could be attributed to sporadic shooting witnessed in the constituency throughout the night by people suspected to be political thugs.
A voter, Mrs. Mary Adelaja, hinged the low turnout on the heavy presence of security agencies and the violence that marked previous conduct of the exercise.
There was, however, massive turnout of voters for the election across local councils in Taraba State.
Under the watchful eyes of security personnel comprising the Army, Police and Civil Defence Corps, voters trooped out en masse as early as 8am, waiting anxiously for electoral officers.