Accreditation, voting end abruptly in Lugbe as voters beat up electoral official
Accreditation and voting at the Lugbe Primary School Polling unit 009 located on Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport Road, Abuja, ended abruptly, yesterday, as angry voters beat up one of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) ad-hoc staff for allegedly thumb-printing ballot papers for an undisclosed presidential candidate.
Despite the large turnout at the unit, which has over 8,000 eligible voters, and its proximity to the city centre, accreditation and voting did not start as INEC officials arrived by 11.30 am with wrong voting materials, which caused tension and anger at the polling station.
At 10.00am, eligible voters numbering over 5,000 were already on the queue waiting for the officials of INEC to arrive under tight security made up of the police and officers of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corp (NSCDC), Department of State Security (DSS) Federal Road Safety Corp and the Nigerian Army.
At exactly 10.15am, a white commercial bus conveying voting materials and adhoc staff of INEC arrived the polling unit to the admiration of enthusiastic voters who were asked to wait for the INEC officials to set up the polling booth.
However, after about 15 minutes, the overwhelming crowd of voters became impatient and began to chant the National Anthem after which they overpowered the security personnel who were keeping the gate and went into the voting area.
But their hope that accreditation will commence in few minutes was dashed when they discovered that the poster, which was meant to contain their names and pictures was not for the polling unit, which made the entire atmosphere to become tensed.
The voters who were visibly angry at the delay and emerging confusion at the polling unit, began to shout, “We Must Vote, We Must Vote”, and shouted down the party agents who tried to explain situation of things and to appeal for calm.
As the drama was going on, armed military personnel numbering eight were drafted into the premises during which some people were picked up for questioning.
At 11:30am, the right adhoc staff arrived the polling unit with election materials and as at 12.33 pm, accreditation and voting were yet to commence but most of the voters who were all looking exhausted vowed never to leave until they cast their vote.
However, around 2:00 pm, the electoral officials reluctantly commenced accreditation but did not allow the accreditation and voting to go simultaneously. By 3.40pm, nobody had been allowed to vote.
In the tensed atmosphere, one of the voters sighted one of the INEC officials sitting on the floor of one of the classrooms with some ballot papers and raised the alarm that he was thumb-printing the ballot papers and that they had perfected plans to rig the election hence the delay in kickstarting the voting process.
Immediately, the voter despised the presence of security personnel and out of anger and frustration, pounced on a male corps member.
The FCT command, Lugbe Division of the Nigeria Police did everything possible to douse the tension but the angry voters could not be controlled as they mercilessly beat and hauled stones on the electoral officials who ran and took cover behind the DPO and the stones were seen landing on the DPO who continued begging the angry mob to calm down their temper.
As the riot was going on, truck load of Police, military and Civil Defence personnel and other security agents who were quickly mobilised to the polling unit, started shooting into the air thereby dispersing the voters while the electoral officials and voting materials were moved to Lugbe Police Station by the Lugbe market amid tight security.
Efforts to speak with the DPO proved abortive as he told The Guardian that only the PRO could speak with the media.