Ballot box snatching, gunshots rock election

Security personnel taking away youths arrested for alleged violation of the law at Sokponba...yesterday

Security personnel taking away youths arrested for alleged violation of the law at Sokponba…yesterday

• INEC denies report of violence
• NGOs commend security agencies
• Ambode not at polls, says Lagos

An officer of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Esan West Local Government Area, Lebari Nduh, yesterday, said hoodlums snatched a ballot box from Ward 7, Unit 11, during the governorship election in the state.

He stated this while addressing journalists at INEC office in Ekpoma.

He said the election was peaceful at various polling centres, “except in Ward 7, Unit 11, where hoodlums snatched a ballot box. The hoodlums couldn’t lay their hands on the result sheets, which were saved by the presiding officer. But as I speak with you, there is no result from there.”

The officer said that although INEC officials experienced some hitches with the card readers, “the faulty machines were immediately replaced with functional ones.”

The Commission, however, denied reports of ballot box snatching and gunshot in some polling centres.

Governor Adams Oshiomhole had earlier said he received a report that some thugs allegedly snatched ballot boxes at Opoji, Esan North-East Local Government Area.

Oshiomhole also alleged that the culprits shot sporadically before taking away the ballot boxes.

INEC’s Deputy Director of Voter Education and Publicity, Nick Dazang, made the denial in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), yesterday.

“I just called Solomon Soyebi, who is the National Commissioner supervising the election. And he has denied the allegation of gunshots and ballot box snatching at Opoji in Esan North-East Local Government Area of the state,” he said.

On reported accident involving a youth corps member serving with INEC, Dazang said he had not heard “any such sad news.” He, however, promised future comment, “If there is anything like that.”

Meanwhile, the president, Conference of Non-Governmental Organisations (CONGOS) in Edo, Jude Obasanmi, has commended security agencies for their handling of the election.

Obasanmi told NAN in Benin that security arrangement was excellent in the four local government areas of the state he monitored.

“I monitored the election in Etsako West, Etsako Central, Akoko Edo and Esan Central Local Government Areas in Edo North. I was impressed with the deployment of security personnel at the polling units.

“Their presence was felt and it gave the people confidence to exercise their franchise,” he said.

Obasanmi also commended INEC for prompt delivery of election materials to polling stations and for ensuring that its officials were punctual.

“As early as 7.30 a.m., election materials arrived at some polling units and the personnel did not waste time. They attended to voters and the process was smooth,” he said.

In a related development, the Lagos State Government debunked allegation that its governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, was in Edo during the election.

It said in a statement issued by the state’s Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Steve Ayorinde, yesterday in Lagos that the governor was out of the country on an official appointment.

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Osagie Ize-Iyamu, had alleged that Ambode and his Kaduna State counterpart, Nasir el-Rufai, were in Edo for the election.

The Lagos government said the governor had no business being in Edo on the day of the polls.

“The governor served as Chairman, Campaign Council, constituted by the All Progressives Congress (APC), and his duty ended 24 hours before the election because no campaign was supposed to hold a day to the election.

“Having completed his assignment, which included appearing with President Muhammadu Buhari at the grand rally in Edo, earlier in the month, Ambode has no reason to return to the state on election day.”

It stated that Ambode clearly enumerated his position on the election during the finale of the campaign when he said that like Lagos where continuity had moved perfectly, Edo also deserved continuity in governance.

“That message has been passed and has been accepted by majority of Edo indigenes and, therefore, there would not be any need for the governor to return to Edo on election day.

“The general public and security operatives are hereby advised to ignore the desperate lies of Ize-Iyamu,” the statement said.

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