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Hoodlums Strike As David Mark, Onjeh Clash At Re-run




• Audu Ogbeh
‘Misplaces’ Voter Card
• INEC Suspends Exercise In Imo, Apathy In Kogi

DESPITE a massive deployment of security operatives, hoodlums were at their game during yesterday’s senatorial re-run polls in Benue State.

Former Senate President, David Mark, and Comrade Daniel Onjeh had both dug in for the political contest, when the miscreants attacked a team of INEC (Independent National Electoral Commission) officials, snatching and destroying voting materials in the process. One person, a supporter of the All Progressives Congress (APC), sustained a machete wound on the head.

In the bitter build up to the exercise, David Mark of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had alleged threat to his life. Onjeh of the APC had described the allegation as propaganda.

The violence occurred at Upu II in Otukpo Ocho council, Otukpo Local Government Area, where the Deputy Governor, Benson Abounu, hails from.

Abounu, who believed the assailants were overzealous elements from Mark’s camp, said: “This morning, as INEC officials brought electoral materials, hoodlums rushed at them, took hold of an APC supporter and macheted him on the head. I know their intention is to ensure the election in the area is cancelled. I don’t know why Mark will not caution his boys against violence.”

But reacting, David Mark praised the large turnout of voters, saying he detests violence. He also expressed willingness to accept INEC’s declaration of a winner.

At Efugo polling station in Otukpo, headquarters of Ogbadibo Local Government, there was a drama as Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, failed to produce his Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC), claiming the document was missing.

“Oh, I can’t find the card,” he replied an INEC official who had asked to see it.

It is unclear if the former National Chairman of the PDP voted.

Yesterday’s re-run in Imo State was suspended by INEC, sparking condemnation by PDP chieftain, Nnamdi Anyaehie, and the party’s candidate, Athan Achonu. Achonu would have squared off with APC’s Benjamin Uwajumogu, who got his election nullified.

The Commission’s Administrative Secretary in Imo, Chinedu Evuruobi, said he acted on directive from INEC headquarters, which cited insecurity, as a result of protest by youths who barricaded the entrance to its premises.

The re-run in Kogi East/Central Senatorial Districts was marred by apathy, said to have been caused by the Court of Appeal’s exclusion of the APC and its candidates, Abdullahi Abduram and Muhammed Ohiare.

In many places, INEC staff sat idly, as very few voters showed up to exercise their franchise.

The low turnout in Kogi East might also have been due to candidates of other political parties standing down for PDP’s Senator Atai Aidoko in the interest of peace.

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