Voters apathy, violence, militarization mars Nigeria’s state governors, lawmakers election

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    By Alexis Akwagyiram

    LAGOS, March 9 – Nigerian voters returned to the polls on Saturday to elect powerful state governors just two weeks after Muhammadu Buhari secured a second term in a delayed presidential vote, but civil society observers said turnout was low.

    The election is for 29 of the country’s 36 governors, who are among the most influential politicians in Nigeria.

    The governorship and House of Assembly elections held across the country, yesterday, were characterised by poor voter turn out.

    Except Ondo, Ekiti, Anambra, Osun and Edo states where governorship election did not hold, both polls took place in all the 36 states in the country and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja.

    The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), its candidate in the February 23 presidential election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, blamed the apathy in the polls on alleged rigging in the February 23 presidential and National Assembly elections.

    The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), its candidate in the February 23 presidential election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, blamed the apathy in the polls on alleged rigging in the February 23 presidential and National Assembly elections.

    As the country is Africa’s biggest oil producer and has the continent’s largest economy, many of the governors control budgets larger than those of small nations.

    With so much at stake, previous governorship elections have been marred by violence including shootings and the snatching of ballot boxes by armed gangs.

    Results are expected to begin emerging on Sunday.

    Buhari, of the All Progressives Congress (APC), beat Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in last month’s presidential election by 15.2 million votes to 11.3 million, although turnout was just 35.6 percent.

    “Voter turnout remains low,” the Situation Room, a monitoring mission comprising over 70 civic groups, said of Saturday’s vote in a statement.

    Reuters reporters also said turnout was low in many parts of the country including the capital, Abuja, the northern cities of Kaduna and Yola and in the commercial capital, Lagos.

    The army said on Friday it would ensure people could vote in an environment free of violence. Civil society observers said 39 people were killed in election-related violence on the day of the presidential poll.

    “Indications from the field on the low voter turnout points to concerns from citizens on the military deployment,” said the Situation Room, adding that some people felt intimated.

    Nigeria’s security forces have been stretched in recent years by an Islamist insurgency in the northeast as well as by communal violence and banditry in other areas.

    Hours before polls opened for the presidential vote, explosions rocked Maiduguri, capital of Borno state, the epicentre of the insurgency. In neighbouring Yobe, residents of the town of Geidam fled a militant attack around the same time.

    The Situation Room also said there was widespread voter apathy due to disappointment over the way last month’s vote was conducted.

    A spokesman for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Rotimi Oyekanmi, in a text message said the commission was not yet able to assess the turnout rate.

    The presidential election, which eventually took place on Feb. 23, was delayed by a week after the electoral commission was unable to get ballots and results sheets to all areas on time.

    The announcement came just five hours before polls were due to open. Despite the postponement, voting was disrupted by malfunctioning voter card readers which caused lengthy delays in some regions, particularly southern opposition strongholds.

     

    The Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, on his part, however, said elections in the southern part of the country had always recorded low turnout.
    But a team of observers deployed from the International Republican Institute (IRI) and the National Democratic Institute (NDI), both based in the United States (US), said lack of proper electioneering campaigns by candidates involved in yesterday’s polls was responsible for the apathy.
    Early results from the elections, yesterday, indicated that the governorship candidate of the APC for Lagos State, Mr Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu; the governorship candidate of the PDP for Enugu State, Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi; the governorship candidate of the PDP for Delta State, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, and the governorship candidate of the APC for Kwara State, Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, were in the lead.
    Although the polls were generally peaceful, there were pockets of violence in Oyo, Ebonyi, Ondo, Katsina, Rivers, Delta and Edo States.
    No fewer than 10 persons were reportedly killed.
    In Ebonyi State, suspected thugs attacked the office of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Ezza North local government area, setting it on fire. Reports from Rivers State said a former Chairman of Andoni Local Government Area, Mrs Emilia Nte, was feared killed at Egindem by gunmen suspected to belong to the same gang who, in the February 23 elections, murdered another former Chairman of the LGA, Mowan Etete, and three others.
    In Delta State, suspected thugs hijacked voting materials
    while officials of some parties were injured in some parts of the state. Masked man set ablaze electoral materials at Usagbe Primary School, Ogbido in Etsako Local Government Area of Edo State.
    Other highlights of the elections include the seizure of two cars reportedly conveying ballot papers in Kano State while the governorship candidate of a major political party in Benue State was reportedly caught with a bag full of cash.
    In Zamfara State, the APC was reportedly not on the result sheets for the polls.
    INEC attributed the development to court rulings on the internal crisis in the state chapter of APC.
    In Enugu State, the police confirmed the killing of a local election observer by stray bullets fired by a policeman to disperse a group of protesters.
    Reports from Katsina said two security agents were killed while 20 electoral officials were abducted. It was the same tragic situation in Ondo State where two persons were confirmed dead following a failed attempt to attack a collation centre in Oba Akoko in Akoko South-West area of the state.
    The police said 20 hoodlums had been arrested in connection with the incident. Meanwhile, reports from Bauchi State said Governor Muhammad Abdullahi Abubakar lost his polling unit to the PDP candidate, Bala Muhammad, in yesterday’s elections.
    Niger: Turnout not impressive
    The turnout for the governorship and House of Assembly elections in Niger State was not impressive when compared with that of February 23 elections in Niger State.
    Our correspondent, who monitored the polls in some of the local governments areas of the state, observed that voter turnout for the exercise was extremely low in most of the polling units. Some of the areas marred by voter aparty include Zuma West Ward in Tarfa Local Government Area of the state.
    Also affected were most of the Polling Units in Madalla, Kwamba Werda in Suleja Local Government Area of the state. In fact, Polling Unit 003 in front of the Suleja Central Mosque where the Emir of Suleja , Alhaji Awwall Ibrahim, cast his vote was not left out.
    However, the voting exercise for the governorship and House of Assembly commenced as early as 8am in almost the polling units visited.
    The situation was not different in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja where poor voter turnout characterised the elections. FCT: Extreme low turnout FCT is run by a Minister who is appointed by the President.
    It has six Area Councils which are managed by elected chairmen and councillors. The area councils are Abuja Municipal, Kuje, Bwari, Gwagwalada, Abaji and Kwali.
    Elections into various offices of the councils which are the equivalent of the local government areas at the state levels are conducted by INEC which chose to hold the exercise alongside the governorship and state assembly elections. At Efab and Citec estates located within Life Camp, Mbora Districts of Abuja metropolis, the exercise started at about 8:am. Our correspondent who visited Polling Unit 017A Efab estate observed extreme low turnout of voters in the unit that housed seven voting points. However, the exercise went on without hitches.
    Lagos: Poor turnout, late arrival of materials Ambode, Hamzat, Sanwo-Olu win polling units
    In Lagos, voters’ apathy was the order of the day, yesterday, as voters elected a new governor and members of the state House or Assembly and some House of Representatives members.
    Voting did not start early in many locations as electoral officers arrived at about 11.30 am in places like Iba Estate, Igbo-Elerin, Ishashi, among others. Ad-hoc electoral officers were protesting non-payment of allowances for the postponed Presidential and National Assembly polls.
    Meanwhile, some youths were wielding canes intimidating non-indigenes in Iba Estate and Ipaye in Iba LCDA as early as 7.30 am, forcing some would-be voters to shun the exercise. This was worsened by the late arrival of electoral officers.
    In spite of heavy security and movement restrictions in most parts of Lagos State, particularly areas like Okota, where ballot boxes and polling units were set on fire during the February 23, polls, many voters elected to stay indoors.
    Again, some youths chose to play soccer on the streets or watch English premiership soccer matches at restaurants.
    There were stern – looking army officers along several roads as early as 7.00 am. At some of the polling units visited, only few voters were seen casting their votes in a more peaceful atmosphere than the February 23, election in the state.
    Our correspondents gathered that the voter’s apathy was not unconnected with the outcome of the presidential and National Assembly election of February 23.
    Lagosians who spoke to Sunday Vanguard said Nigerians were tired of voting and their votes not counting at the end of the exercise.
    The low turnout of voters was so bad that by 12 noon, voters were not seen in most of the polling units except party agents and some interested party supporters. At polling unit 029, Okota, in Oshodi – Isolo Local Government Area, there was no voter on sight.
    It was gathered that a few voters registered at the polling unit, and had come in the morning to vote.
    An INEC official who spoke to Sunday Vanguard at the polling unit confirmed the low turnout of voters compared with the presidential election. He noted that although some voters came in the morning, they were yet to have anything near the number of voters they handled in the previous election.
    “We are yet to understand the reason why people are not coming out. We are still waiting for them until when INEC asks to close for the day. We have, of course, attended to the ones that have come out.” Also at polling unit 026, Popoola area of Okota, INEC staff were in relaxed mood by 12:30pm waiting for the closing period as there were no more voters. Some of the party agents at the polling units also decried low turnout of voters.
    At polling unit 028, it was the same situation. INEC officials were sitting idle waiting for voters. At Ward 021, Ejigbo, the Lagos State Commissioner for Information, Mr. Kehinde Bamigbetan told Sunday Vanguard that the election in Ejigbo was peaceful. Reacting to the issue of voters apathy recorded during the election process, he explained that,” the issue might not be unconnected with what played out during the presidential and national assembly elections in February 23, 2019.
    “The voter-apathy is as a result of the Presidential and National Assembly election, but we are assuring our people that Ejigbo is peaceful”. Owing ad-hoc electoral officials is sacrilegious – Bode George Commenting on the exercise, former Deputy National chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Chief Bode George expressed worry over voters’ apathy.
    “I was shocked that people were non-challant, they were not concerned. This election would probably be the worst I have seen in years, not in terms of violence. There was relative peace but it is that apathy that is of concern to me.” Expressing disappointment over the INEC’s ad hoc who protested over unpaid allowances, the PDP chieftain said: “It is sacrilegious.
    INEC was given a huge amount of funds for the elections, who could be responsible? They should not sweep it under the carpet. It is a disgrace on INEC that its staff, who are to process the election have not received their allowances. INEC Chairman must explain to Nigerians. If they (ad hoc staff) are not happy, how would they do a good job? Why is their allowances still outstanding? It does not show the kind of commitment we have been talking about.’’
    Hitches at Kosofe Constituency I and II over missing 900 ballot papers In Kosofe, 900 ballot papers meant for the elections were missing at the Kosofe Collation centre, Anglican Nursery and Primary School, Ogudu, where the papers were to be distributed to other units.
    According to findings, there are 55,000 registered voters in the area which included Kosofe Constituency I and II. According to one of the party agents who spoke to Sunday Vanguard, Mr Segun Otufuwa of the PDP, narrated that the trouble in the area started when the missing ballots were detected and announced.
    “There were two issues that delayed the voting process here. Earlier in the morning INEC ad-hoc staff refused to work because of alleged non-payment of allowances of the postponed Presidential election which they claimed some of their colleagues have collected.
    “They even alleged that the INEC officers were even negotiating to pay N7,000 instead of the actual amount of N10,000, which the official refused to pay. Though, the NYSC members were ready to work, their ad-hoc staff colleagues were adamant on their refusal to work.
    “The two knotty issues were later resolved following intervention by some INEC officers, from the National Headquarters in Abuja, particularly, Mrs Adeyemi Showunmi and the NYSC State Coordinator, Prince Mommoh Muhammed who arrived to attend to the issues.”
    However, as this was ongoing, tension was getting high, the police hierarchy had to deploy additional security personnel to the area to forestall any possible unrest and break down of law and order. Voting did not start till about 3.30 pm when the election was supposed to be rounding off.
    Exercise peaceful – Mamora Senator Olorunnibe Mamora, a former Speaker, Lagos State House of Assembly, along with his wife, voted around 3.45 pm in his unit 083, Kosofe, located on Pariola Street, Kosofe.
    Mammora, who later spoke with Sunday Vanguard, described the exercise as “peaceful” even as he commended the conduct of both the electoral umpire, INEC for a good job, thanking Lagos residents for their resilience and peaceful conduct despite few hitches that occurred in the early hours.
    He however, said the exercise could be better organized next time if the lapses could be addressed in school exercise.
    Ambode, Sanwo-Olu, Hamzat win polling units Meanwhile, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, the All Progressives Congress, APC Governorship Candidate, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, and his running mate, Dr Obafemi Hamzat, won their polling booths at the polls Babajide Sanwo-Olu, delivered his Polling Unit for his party, saying he is expecting to be victorious when the overall results of the election are officially announced.
    APC polled 124 votes, while the main opposition PDP garnered 26 votes at the Polling Unit 019, Lateef Jakande Avenue/Femi Okunnu in Ikoyi II.
    Sanwo-Olu, who arrived at his Polling Unit in company of his wife, Ibijoke, at 10:33am, described the process as “generally peaceful”, despite pockets of delays recorded in some parts of the state.
    ‘’I think the whole process has been generally peaceful. Reports coming in from our party agents from across the state show that things are going well, but for some areas where they are experiencing minor delays.” he said.
    Speaking to reporters after he voted, Sanwo-Olu said he was confident of victory, having traversed the length and breadth of the state during the campaign and felt the pulse of the voters.
    On what would be his disposition if the result did not favour him at the end of the day, Sanwo-Olu said
    “The election is never a do-or-die affair for me. I urge voters to engage peacefully and desist from acts that may lead to the cancellation of the results.
    I believe the outcome will reflect the wishes of the people.” Initially, there were minor hitches when the election started at Sanwo-Olu’s polling unit.
    A card reader did not function properly, leading to complaints among voters. The INEC technical staff at the unit immediately intervened and reset the malfunctioning card reader. The process went on smoothly thereafter.
    Atiku: Many didn’t vote today because presidential poll was rigged
    Atiku, the presidential candidate of the PDP, attributed the low turn-out of voters in the governorship and state assembly elections to alleged rigging of the presidential poll.
    Atiku spoke after casting his ballot at the Ajiya Polling Unit 02, Gwadabawa Ward of Yola North Local Government of Adamawa State.
    “There is low voter turnout and I believe it’s because of the last election which was marred by a lot of irregularities,” he said. Atiku said the involvement of the military in the election was unconstitutional, urging the electorate to be law-abiding.
    Speaking on his loss, Atiku said he was committed to challenging the result of the election in court. He called on his supporters to remain calm and await the outcome of the legal action.
    Nigerians lost interest in elections – Ologbondiyan, PDP spokesman
    The PDP said Nigerians had lost interest in elections because their votes no longer count. National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, stated this in Kabba, headquarters of Kabba/Bunu council area of Kogi State.
    Ologbondiyan, who decried the low turnout of voters for the governorship and Houses of Assembly elections, ascribed the development to the overbearing attitude of the ruling APC government on the electoral umpire and the electoral system.
    He said reports across the states showed that the polls were marred by violence and irregularities.
    “Election in Kogi was full of violence and intimidation amidst destruction of ballot boxes. Election was suspended in Mopamuro local government area.
    There are reports of people using fake PVCs.
    The APC is suppressing PDP in Kwara. There are manifestations of militarization of election in Rivers and Akwa Ibom”, the opposition party spokesperson said.
    “The above scenarios have dampened the spirits of Nigerians who have lost interest in elections knowing well that their votes will not count”.
    Ologbondiyan however said the party will study the total outcome of the election and made their position known afterwards.
    Bauchi: Why voters stayed away – Dogara
    Also speaking on voter apathy, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, after casting his votes, yesterday, at Gwarangah in Boro Local Government Area of Bauchi State, said: “What I have seen is that there is no mammoth crowd like last elections. Some of you were here. You saw the crowd and how many lines were here.
    It was even a battle to even get to the front. I can’t see that kind of crowd and I don’t know what is responsible for it, maybe voter apathy. “Because we saw that in the last elections, the problem wasn’t the voting, people came out and voted.
    The problem started at the collation level, especially at the ward level. Collation at the polling level was almost done peacefully and concluded in a very transparent manner but at the ward level to the local government level to the constituency level, things started changing.
    “So I guess one of the reasons why we have this apathy is that people think their votes do not count and as such, what is the point?
    So they go to the market, they go to the farm, for those who do dry season farming, rather than coming to the polling units to vote because they feel that their votes do not count.
    At the polling units in the last elections, at the polling units, elections were credible but the problem started at the collation and we hope that this does not repeat itself in this election.” Int’l observers give reasons for voter apathy
    A team of observers drafted from the International Republican Institute, IRI, and the National Democratic Institute, NDI, said lack of proper electioneering campaigns by governorship candidates was responsible for the electoral apathy recorded in the elections Heads of the joint international election observation mission for Nigeria’s 2019 elections, who monitored the governorship and the Area Council elections in Niger State and the candidates failed to give the electorate reasons why they should come out to vote for hem.
    The African Directors of IRI and NDI, John Tomaszewski and Christopher Fomunyo, while speaking with journalists during the monitoring exercise in Suleja Local Government Area of Niger State, agreed that voter turnout was poor compared with the February 23 presidential and National Assembly elections.
    RIVERS: Gov’s aide feared killed,
    Amaechi says apathy has always been in South AS it happened during the presidential exercise and National Assembly polls two weeks ago, the governorship and state assembly elections in Rivers State were heralded by killings in various flashpoints. Incidentally, this most high profile of the latest incidents happened in Andoni Local Government Area where a former Chairman, Mrs Emilia Nte, was feared killed at Egendem by gunmen suspected to be same gang who, in the February 23 polls, another former chairman, Mowan Etete, and three companions in neighboring Asarama.
    Police Public Relations Officer, Rivers Command, DSP Nnamdi Omoni, however, said that Nte had not been confirmed killed, but only kidnapped, but community sources and Transport Minister, Amaechi, confirmed she had been killed. Amaechi, also disclosed that two persons were also killed in his mother’s village, Egbeda, Emohua LGA.
    Omoni, the police spokesman, however, confirmed that the police officer attached to Nte was killed when the gunmen struck. Mowan was an APC chieftain at the time he was murdered, but Nte, who was attacked on the night before yesterday’s elections, was Special Adviser to Governor Nyesom Wike on Gender Matter.
    Amaechi, after casting his vote in Ubima, Ikwerre LGA, said voter apathy had always been in the South and not as a result of militarisation of the state as the PDP had stressed. The minister said,
    “”The governor (Wike) says there’s voter apathy because military has come, but there is not time there hasn’t been apathy in Rivers state. It has ever been there but those who power go to seize results sheets and inflate figures.
    “We want to see those 3.5million registered voters. We want to see the 2.7Million that collected their PVCs. The reason for collecting your PVC is because you want to votes.”

     

    Oyo: Rep shot dead two weeks after losing Senate election

    In Oyo a member of the House of Representatives representing Lagelu/Akinyele Federal Constituency, Hon Temitope Olatoye Sugar, lost his life two weeks after he lost his bid to move up to the Senate.

    He died alongside two others following a shooting spree in the course of the governorship and House of Assembly elections in the state. The lawmaker was reportedly shot at Lalupon in Lagelu Local Government area of the state.

    The deceased, who was elected to the House of Representatives on the platform of APC, however, defected to the Action Democratic Party, ADP. It was on that platform that he contested for the Oyo Central Senatorial Seat penultimate Saturday. He lost the election.

    According to a source who witnessed the shooting incident, Sugar was allegedly shot in the head and rushed to the University College Hospital, Ibadan. Trouble started when the deceased allegedly fired a shot at one of his former boys who refused to decamp to ADP with him. In the process, two other persons were said to have died on the spot.

    The boy reportedly returned the shot which hit Sugar in the eyes.

    When Sunday Vanguard called, Mr Toye Akinrinlola, Head, Public Relations Unit, UCH, said he was at the Intensive care unit of the teaching hospital.

    Mr Gbenga Fadeyi, the Public Relations Officer of the State Police Command, said he was yet to be briefed on the incident when Sunday Vanguard called on him.

    AKWA IBOM: Former governor storms Collation Centre

    A former governor of Akwa Ibom State, last night, reportedly stormed Essien Udim Local Government Area collation centre . INEC officials alleged that he insisted on foisting a regime of collation on officials . INEC officials on ground further alleged that the former governor stormed the center with a bus allegedly filled with election materials As of the time of filing this report, frantic efforts were being made by INEC officials to call in security men to avert total breakdown of law and order at the collation centre. In fact tension had reached feverish pitch.

    Kano: Cars carrying ballot papers impounded

    Two cars conveying ballot papers were reportedly impounded at Magwan Primary School, Nassarawa Local Government Area of Kano State. According to an eyewitness identified as Shazal, the cars were impounded and taken to the Kano State police headquarters in Bompai.

    Speaking with PREMIUM TIMES in a phone interview, Shazal said, “Two cars drove to the back of the polling unit with ballot papers in their booths and two corp members entered the car. When people noticed their movements, they asked who they were, and the people claimed to be INEC officials.

    “But the people did not believe them, and other people’s attention was called. After seeing the ballot papers, the police arrested the cars and towed them to the Kano state police headquarters in Bompai”.

    However, the governorship polls in Kano could determine the political careers of a former governor of the state, Rabiu Kwankwaso, and the incumbent governor, Abdullahi Ganduje.

    Although there were 54 governorship candidates in Kano, the contest was between Ganduje of the APC and Kwankwaso’s anointed candidate, Abba Yusuf, contesting under PDP.

    The PDP had lost the presidential and all senatorial seats in Kano during the February 23 elections.

    Benue: Governorship candidate caught with bags of cash

    A governorship candidate in Benue State was reportedly caught with a bag full of cash yesterday.

    The candidate was allegedly intercepted by operatives of the anti-graft agency, EFCC, for alleged vote-buying. The incident occurred around a polling unit in North Bank area of Makurdi, the state capital. Thugs loyal to the party of the candidate reportedly attacked vehicles belonging to EFCC in a bid to stop the interception.

    The wads of cash found in the bag were said to have been seized by the EFCC officials.

    Also in Benue, suspected hoodlums set ablaze all electoral materials, including ballot boxes and card readers, on fire at Mbalom Ward in Gwer East Local Government Area. According to an eye witness, hoodlums broke into RCM Primary School, Aya, where the electoral materials were kept, firing shots in the air before setting the materials on fire.

    Ngunan Yongo, the electoral officer for the local government area, confirmed the incident to NAN. The EO said the materials were yet to be distributed to polling units in the ward when the attack occurred. “The entire materials were burnt,” she lamented.

    However, no official of the commission including ad hoc staff was hurt. She explained that a final decision over the conduct of the elections in the area would be communicated later. Thaddeus Ujah, a senior official of the commission, also confirmed the early morning attack.

    Zamfara: INEC omits APC result sheets

    In Zamfara State, APC was not on the result sheets of the governorship and House of Assembly elections. INEC attributed the development to court rulings on the internal crisis in Zamfara APC.

    INEC had excluded the party from the 2019 elections as a result of the controversies which trailed the primary elections. ADVERTISING But last month, a Zamfara high court ruled that the party could field candidates in the elections.

    In a statement, Rose Oriaran-Anthony, National Secretary of the Commission, said the party was omitted from result sheets because of the “suddenness of the court order”. “The commission has just discovered that because of the suddenness of the court order, the party (APC) was omitted for the governorship result sheets.

    This omission is deeply regretted,” the statement read.

    “As a solution, the commission has decided to manually create columns in each of the Result Sheets after the last printed party, ZLP, and insert the APC. “This does not affect any other information on the results sheet.”

    Katsina: Two security agents killed, 20 INEC staff abducted

    Two security agents on election duties for the governorship and state house of assembly elections in Katsina State were reportedly killed. 20 electoral officials in the state were also said to have been abducted in Danmusa local government area with 10 of the 20 later resurfacing.

    A reliable source in the INEC office, which confirmed the development, said the incident occurred while the elections were in progress.

    The source said the two security agents were of the Nigeria Police and Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corp, NSCDC, and killed at Danmusa and Kankara local government areas of the state.

    As of the time of filing this report, our reporter during a visit to the INEC office, saw the officials rushing out to receive and deposit one of the corpses, NSCDC, officer, in the Federal Medical Centre, FMC, Katsina.

    Danmusa and Kankara are among the nine front line local government areas with high cases of insecurity and sharing borders with Zamfara State.

    Delta Guber: 2 killed

    In Delta, two persons were killed at Ovade-Oghara community, while armed thugs stormed a voting centre at Okome Primary School in Oghara , Ethiope West Local Government Area, Delta, chasing away voters and electoral officials.

    The invaders , thereafter, made away with ballot boxes. They pursued National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, members who were part of the INEC ad-hoc staff conducting election in Ward 8 , Unit 14. One of the ad-hoc staff sustained injury. APC House Of Assembly candidate in Ethiope West, Chief Hope Abijor, rescued about two of them while the rest escaped into the bush.

    The two persons lost their lives at Ovade-Oghara people when two youth groups suspected to be loyal to different parties clashed. With complaints vote buying, ballot snatching and violence, Abijor, who called for cancellation of the polls in the area, said, “We reported to the security men and there seemed to be no response.

    “In the morning, we found out that over 3,000 votes were missing from the ballot papers and when we raised the alarm, they said they will call for stakeholders’ meeting and yet they were refusing to do the right thing.

    I have told my lawyer to file for litigation, we are going to court.” In Otefe Oghara, Ward 9, Unit 10, a former governor of Delta State , Chief Janes Ibori, cast his vote at about 1:34 pm, calling on the electorate to continue to maintain peace.

    Meanwhile, suspected thugs hijacked voting materials, while some party officials were injured in parts of Delta State during the governorship and state House of Assembly polls, but the exercise was largely peaceful and improved than the February 23 exercise.

    The two major parties, PDP and APC, however, tried to outmaneuver each other in the election characterized by vote buying in some polling units and heavy security presence in Asaba, the state capital, Warri, Ughelli, Sapele and other areas.

    Soldiers deployed for the elections, nonetheless, maintained appreciable distance from polling units.

    Besides a few reported cases of harassment of voters by some security agents at Okpanam Road axis in Asaba, INEC officials performed their duties at Warri, Ughelli, Sapele, Oshimili, Aniocha, Ika, Bomadi and Ndokwa areas.

    Okowa confident of victory

    Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, PDP governorship candidate, who voted as early as 8.40am at his Owa-Alero hometown in Ika North East local government area, expressed optimism that he would win.

    Senator Okowa, who voted at exactly 8.40 am at Unit 03, Ward 02 (Oni Primary School), Owa-Alero in Ika North-East local government area, told reporters, “I will emerge victorious at the end of the day.

    We have collaborated well with Deltans in the last four years, and I and very convinced that they will vote for me.”

    I‘ll win, says Ogboru

    Ogboru, who bemoaned “pockets of violence” in parts of the state after voting at 12.04 pm in Abraka, said, “I have just voted although there are pockets of violence in some parts; and the security is weak in several places.”
    “But in any case, we have seen how the beginning is; we will see how the day will end.
    And my expectation is that I will win.”

    Enugu: Election observer shot dead

    A local election observer was killed by stray bullet in Enugu state, police said. “The man was a local observer monitoring the gubernatorial and house of assembly election,” a police officer who did not want to be named, told AFP. “He was hit by stray bullet fired by a policeman to disperse a group of protesters,” he said. The police officer said the protesters were pushing for the postponement of yesterday’s gubernatorial poll to give more time for Ayogu Eze, the candidate of the APC to campaign. Eze who has been facing a legal challenge to his nomination, was only cleared to run by the court on Thursday. Eze’s supporters insisted the election should be delayed so that he would have enough time to canvass for votes.

    Meanwhile, the vice presidential candidate of the PDP in the just concluded presidential election, Mr. Peter Obi, decried what he called “persistent lack of preparedness” on the part of INEC. Obi spoke shortly after he could not, at 9 am, vote at his Umumasiaku polling unit, Amatutu, Agulu.

    Speaking on the development, Obi, who eventually voted at 10:36am after the card reader was put in order, said the same thing happened during the presidential election, when card readers did not work in many places, which INEC acknowledged and promised to correct.

    “It is a shame that the same problem repeated itself on a grander scale today, with news of faulty card readers all over the state. This has raised the issue of whether the problems are genuine or contrived for other purposes”, Obi said.

    Ebonyi: Suspected thugs set INEC Office ablaze

    Suspected thugs in the early hours yesterday, attacked the INEC office in Ezza North local government area of Ebonyi State. The hoodlums reportedly set fire to the office which destroyed sensitive and non-sensitive materials to be used for yesterday’s polls in the area.

    The hoodlums also burnt down Community Secondary School, Okposi Umuoghara. Police spokesman in the state, Loveth Odah, and the Resident Electoral Commissioner for the state, Prof Godswill Obioma, confirmed the attack.

    Edo: Masked men set ablaze electoral materials in Oshiomhole’s ward

    MASKED hoodlums during the governorship/Houses of Assembly elections set ablaze electoral materials at Usagbe Primary School, Ogbido in Etsako West local government Area of Edo State. The hoodlums numbering about five were said to have emerged from the bush, shot sporadically to scare voters away from the polling unit.

    The incident happened at Ward 10, Unit 6, a suburb of Iyahmo, the country home of Adams Oshiomhole, the National Chairman of APC. Elechi Chimenumevere, INEC, ad-hoc Presiding Officer, in the unit, who spoke with newsmen, said the incident happened at 11.30 am.

    Chimenumevere, who said the incident shocking, added that some of their personal belongings were also burnt while the attackers ran away with ballot papers and result sheets.

    Meanwhile, the national chairman of APC, Adams Oshiomhole, decried the burning of electoral materials in his ward. Oshiomhole, who spoke in an interview shortly after casting his vote, commended INEC for the major improvement in the area of card reader, logistics and arrival of electoral materials and personnel. The House of Assembly election recorded a low turnout in Edo as many people were afraid of a violence free poll.

    In his reaction, Governor Obaseki, who joined the crowd to cast his vote at about 10:10am at his Polling Unit 019, Ward 04, at Emokpae Primary School in Oredo local government area, stated that the voter participation will be high. “I do not believe there is low turnout because ballot boxes are already filled. The difference is that we have only one election today, so the process is much and quicker but in terms of turnout, I believe we are going to see a turnout that is slightly more than what we saw in the other elections. “Do not forget that this is a local election and the people contesting live in the neighborhood and the same community”, he added.

    (Additional reporting by Garba Muhammad in Kaduna, Percy Dabang in Yola, Anamesere Igboeroteonwu in Onitsha and Felix Onuah in Abuja Writing by Alexis Akwagyiram Editing by Frances Kerry and Kirsten Donovan)

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