TOPE FAYEHUN in this report writes on the violence that characterised the just concluded Governorship and State House of Assembly elections in some parts of the country
At a time the nation’s democracy is being applauded, the violence that characterised the just concluded Governorship and State Assembly Elections which led to the death of some Nigerians has again put the gains of the country’s development in reverse gear.
Unlike the presidential and National Assembly elections held two weeks ago, which has been adjudged to be one of the freest and most credible elections in the country, the governorship and states Houses of Assembly elections held in many of the states across the country on Saturday, according to pundits, were not up to the standard expected of it.
No thanks to some politicians, mostly in the Southern part of the country, who demonstrated their bestial nature by turning a routine civic exercise to a power struggle among contending political camps
Unfortunately, electoral violence and ballot box snatching reared their ugly heads in Ondo, Oyo, Akwa Ibom, Ebonyi, Imo, Delta, Rivers and Bayelsa states in Governorship and House of Assembly Elections on Saturday.
Prior to the 2015 general elections, whenever the country was approaching electioneering period, most Nigerians believed that there would be violence, mayhem, electoral related killings and destructions.
Things changed for the better in 2015, when the then incumbent president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, who was defeated by President Muhammadu Buhari conceded defeat and handed over power to Buhari.
However, analysts are of the opinion that when it was expected to build on the gains recorded then, some desperate politicians are trying to draw the country back to the dark days.
While the elections were ongoing on Saturday, there was confusion engendered by
disagreements between supporters of major contenders for elective positions.
This threatened the peaceful atmosphere of the elections and somehow climaxed into violence, if not for the quick intervention of security agents.
In some areas, political thugs had a free day as they perpetrated their act without any security agents to check them, and consequently they went away with some ballot boxes.
This was the case in some states, particularly in the Southern part of the country, where the results of the elections have not been announced by the electoral umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), but their outcomes have been determined by politicians.
However, the inability of the aggrieved actors in the dispute to rein in their anger only left the affected states having to now count their losses in human and material terms.
There is however no doubt about the fact that those who lost in the Saturday election would by now be sulking impotently in defeat; the purported winners would be meeting and making plans on how to share the spoils of office, while some families would be on mourning mood and be making arrangements to bury their loved ones who died in the cause of the elections.
There are also several others who by now would be nuesing the pains of the loss of their prized possessions and means of livelihood which were destroyed during the elections.
Pointedly, political observers attributed the way Nigerian politicians desperately scrambled for elective position without the outcome of their desperation to the lucrative nature of political offices are in the country.
According to some analysts, “the Nigerian political office is perhaps, on global aggregate, the most besought investment portfolio in the market for political power in the world today.”
For instance, no fewer than seven persons, including a former female local government chairman, Mrs. Emilia Gilbert Nte, were feared killed in parts of Rivers State between Friday night and Saturday when the Governorship and House of Assembly elections held.
According information available to LEADERSHIP, ballot snatching as well as destruction of other election materials greeted the conduct of the election in the state. It was also gathered that Nte and a policeman were shot dead by unknown gunmen on Friday night at Unyeda community in Andoni local government area.
Also, four persons were reportedly killed during a clash between two suspected cult groups in Luawii community in Khana local government area while a middle-aged man was shot dead by unknown gunmen at Akinima, headquarters of Ahoada-West local government area on the election day.
Some cases of snatching of ballot boxes and destruction of other electoral materials by suspected thugs were recorded in Obio/Akpor, Khana, Ikwerre, Etche and Akuku-Toru local government areas of the state, amongst others.
Speaking on the development , a former member of the House of Representatives, Ogbonna Nwuke, said the elections wwre largely peaceful in Etche local government area, despite attempt by suspected political thugs to disrupt the process.
Nwuke, who is also chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) denied allegations by some youths of Ward 5 and 6 in the area, that he led some military personnel to hijack election materials in the two wards.
He said: “From where we operated in Etche, I think the elections were largely peaceful. There may have been skirmishes here and there, but largely, we can say that the people conducted themselves properly.
“It is not true. Rather, there were disagreements in Ward 6 in Etched local government area by youths from both sides who were in the mood to hijack election materials.
“I am aware the soldiers came to reduce the tension. But the issue is that at a time like this, many people choose to put blame on security agents who are there to maintain law and order.”
Speaking to newsmen after casting his vote at Unit 5, Ward 3, Elele in Ikwerre local government area of the state, the Commissioner for Information, Emma Okah, accused the military of going round polling units in the local government area to snatch ballot boxes.
A serving lawmaker in the House of Representatives, Temitope Olatoye (a.k.a. Sugar) was killed Saturday in Oyo State. The lawmaker died at the Intensive Care Unit of the University College Hospital, following bullet wounds he suffered in the head by suspected political thugs in Lalupon area, Ibadan.
Different versions of when he died were received, with some insinuating that he died on the spot.
But LEADERSHIP learnt that, he was taken to the Accident and Emergency ward of the University College Hospital by his supporters and the doctors on duty, moments after moved him to the Intensive Care Unit of the hospital.
The UCH public relations officer, Mr. Toye Akinrinlola told journalists that the lawmaker was moved to the intensive care, where doctors were battling to save his life, but eventually gave up the ghost around 7.45 pm.
It was learnt that some suspected political thugs of a rival politician in the constituency carried out the attack on Olatoye, who won the 2015 election as a candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), lost re-election two weeks ago on the platform of the Action Democratic Party (ADP) and vowed never to return to the APC, notwithstanding the overtures reportedly made to him by a former Governor of the state, Chief Adebayo Alao-Akala, to join him in aligning with the APC candidate, Adebayo Adelabu.
Before his death, he was representing Lagelu/Akinyele federal constituency. He was said to be coming from his village where he had gone to exercise his franchise when the assailant ambushed him.
Two hours earlier, a supporter of the Peoples Democratic Party, simply identified as Mudasiru, was allegedly shot dead by a police officer in Ile Titun area of Ibadan South-East local government.
Following the violent disruption of the House of Assembly election, the State Governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, imposed a curfew on Oba Akoko, Akoko South West local government area of the state.
The widespread violence reportedly resulted in the death of two persons. The violence saw of the use of guns and the destruction of ballot boxes and other electoral materials.
Also, vehicles and properties were destroyed during the violence.
Although Ondo is not involved in the governorship election, House of Assembly candidates are being elected. Several persons were also reported injured during the violence.
At least one person was said to have been killed by a soldier at a polling unit in Ossiom village, Ukanafun Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom.
Nine other persons were injured in Nsit-Atai council area when members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressive Congress (APC) clashed over disagreement on election matters.
Similarly, four persons, including the Chairman of Etim Ekpo LGA, Mr Wilson Eduo, were injured by political thugs who hijacked ballot materials for wards 8, 9 and 10.
This came just as thugs were said to have harassed officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission in Awa Ward 3 in Abak Ishiet, Onna LGA.
The thugs were said to have hijacked one of the card readers and the handbag of a policewoman who ran away to safety, but the incident reportedly happened after voting had ended at 3pm.
Also, two former military administrators, Group Capt. Sam Ewang (retd) and Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga (retd) also clashed at Ikot Nya no polling unit in the Nsit Ibom Local Government Area of the State.
Ewang was the former military administrator of Rivers and Ogun states, while Nkanga was administrator of Akwa Ibom State. Both ex-milads are from the same village.
While Ewang is the chairman of the APC governorship candidate campaign team, Nkanga is the chairman of Udom Emmanuel’s Divine Mandate Organisation.
Trouble started when Ewang ordered elections to stop on allegation that PDP had brought in mercenaries to vote for their party.
Ewang said, “Nobody is going to vote again. That’s what they did during the last election and won. Some of these people have voted elsewhere and they went to bring them here to vote. It will never happen again this time round. The only solution is to stop the election.”
But Nkanga, who pleaded with the people to be calm, told one of our correspondents that the allegation was untrue.
The polling officer said only 202 person had voted at 1pm when voting was stopped out of the 705 voters in the unit officially called Age Ewang, Unit 3, Mbiaso Ward 4, in Nsit Ibom council area.
Also, three persons were injured and vehicles vandalised in communities in the Nsit-Atai council following a clash between supporters of the PDP and the APC.
The incident, it was learnt, disrupted electoral process in Ibakang ward Unit 007.
It was recorded that suspected political thugs murdered a party agent in the state during the election. The development was said to have generated a political tension in the state .
According to information, the murder, which took place in the Nkwerre Local Government Area of the state set the area in an apprehensive mood.
The killing, it was leant made voters who had yet to cast their votes to flee the polling unit.
It was also gathered that the murdered party agent who is yet to be identified had engaged in a fierce argument with some of the other party agents in one of the polling units.
The party agent, who had left the polling unit afterwards was ambushed by suspected political thugs who shot him severally until he died.
LEADERSHIP learnt that the prevailing peace that characterized the governorship and house of assembly elections in the state, was marred when unidentified gunmen stormed some polling units and shot persons suspected to be members of a rival political party.
The incidents occurred during the collation of results in some polling units in Ughelli South local government area of the state. One person was reportedly shot dead while scores of others sustained gunshot wounds amidst several others who received various degrees of matchete wounds.
Though the identity of the dead could not be ascertained as at press time, the victim was shot dead at Iwhrekan community while others whom were equally attacked, were ambushed at Oviri-Olomu and Ovwookpokpo communities.