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Electoral offences: 25 killed, 15 suspects arrested in Ondo, Rivers, Kastina, Gombe, Imo

By Charles Ogugbuaja (Owerri), Adewale Momoh (Akure), Obinna Nwaoku (PortHarcourt),  Mansur Aramide (Gombe) and Danjuma Michael (Katsina)
24 March 2023   |   4:04 am
There were pockets of violence in parts of Imo State during the Presidential / National Assembly (NASS); and the just concluded State Assembly (SASS) elections in the state.

Women protesting outcome of guber result in Nasarawa State PHOTO: ABEL ABOGONYE

• 19 INEC officials abducted in Imo, freed, say police
There were pockets of violence in parts of Imo State during the Presidential / National Assembly (NASS); and the just concluded State Assembly (SASS) elections in the state.

The Guardian learnt that hoodlums invaded most polling units and unleashed mayhem on voters.

In the process, one person was shot in the stomach.

The Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), in the state, Henry Okoye, an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), told The Guardian that the affected person was taken to undisclosed hospital.

He said no case of killing was recorded by the command during the polls.

He said: “Nobody was killed during the Presidential /National Assembly and State Assembly elections in the state.  But we recorded a case of thugs, who were disturbing, one was shot in the stomach and was taken to a hospital. We are yet to receive an official report on where he is.

“Also, 19 ad-hoc officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) were abducted with the electoral materials on their way to their polling units in the Ideato area.  They were later rescued by security operatives. Unfortunately, they were reportedly unable to return with all the materials they had.

“In the same vein, at the St. Paul’s polling unit on Douglas Road, Owerri, some hoodlums invaded the area and forced some voters to cast their votes against their wishes. When they attempted to force the party agents to leave the vicinity, one agent who refused had his fore head broken by the party thugs.”

IN Ondo State, one person was killed at a collation centre in Idanre Local Council of Ondo in just concluded general elections.

The deceased, Akinlabi Akinnaso, a supporter of an elected candidate for the House of Representatives in Idanre/Ifedore Federal constituency, Festus Akingbaso, was allegedly killed by a security operative stationed at the collation center.

The incident occurred when Akinnaso, popularly known as “Oluomo” accompanied Akingbaso, who won the election, to receive his Certificate of Return from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

According to sources at the venue, the deceased allegedly refused to leave the collation centre upon instruction by one of the security operatives when he was found interfering in the process.

A source said: “We had gathered at the collation centre awaiting to receive the certificate of return for our newly elected honourable Akingbaso, when the soldiers started chasing us away from the centre.

“We were driven a far distance from the collection center in Owena. I guess the reason was to maintain orderliness and ensure maximum security, but Akinnaso, who was just coming to the venue, also joined the waiting crowd to receive the certificate.

“Sadly, as he approached the soldiers, he was shot. By the time we rushed him to the hospital, he was confirmed dead by the doctors on duty.”

Confirming the incident, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) in the state, Funmilayo Odunlami-Omisanya, said investigation is ongoing to unravel the circumstances surrounding the death.

FIFTEEN people suspected to have participated in election violence in parts of the state during the House of Assembly election have been arrested.

The 15 suspects were accused of having weapons in their possession and snatching ballot boxes, among other offences.

The police spokesperson in the state, who confirmed the arrest said the violators will be dealt with in accordance with the Electoral Act.

While disclosing that the suspects were arrested in a joint operation with other security agencies, Odunlami-Omisanya said: “The Ondo State Police Command, under the leadership of CP Oyeyemi Oyediran, has arrested suspects involved in various offences on election day.

“The suspects were arrested in different parts of the state, with some currently with the military.

“They were arrested in connection with cases of unlawful possession of firearms, snatching of ballot boxes, attempted murder, and serious assault.

“All cases relating to electoral offences will be harmonized and will be dealt with in accordance with the Electoral Act after the completion of the investigation.

“The Command appreciates the collaboration of sister agencies and that of the law-abiding citizens in the state for the maintenance of law and order throughout the election period.

“The Command is committed to serving the people of the state with a high sense of responsibility, professionalism, and universal policing best practices.”

IN Rivers State , 15 persons were feared killed during the governorship and State House of Assembly elections.

The Guardian gathered that three people died in Ahoada West, two in Ogoni, one in Abua-Odual, one in Omuma, and three gunned down in Elibrada/ Ogbakiri Community in Emohua Local Council.

On election day, two deaths were reported in Bori, Khana Local Council, while unidentified gunmen invaded Elibrada Community in Emohua council, shooting sporadically, which resulted in the death of three people.

Confirming the incident, the Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Emeka Beke, in Elibrada Community in Emohua council,  said the development was worrisome.

He noted that the three victims met their death while trying to hijack ballot boxes.

He said: “Three people were killed in Ogbakiri. They were hijacking and snatching ballot boxes before they were killed.”

Also, there was a heavy shooting at Bori, the headquarters of Khana Local Council of Rivers State, and two people were said to have been killed.

A voter, Jeremiah Precious narrated that the people had protested the irregularities in the electoral material for Khana LGA, and police started to fire warning shots.

He said some boys in the area challenged the police personnel, which caused panic and two people were killed in the process.

“Today, we came out to vote and we noticed that the material they brought to us is fake. They are from Ikwerre council.

“Because of this, we matched out to protest. While we were protesting, police came and started shooting at us,” he added.

However, the State Police Command confirmed the killing of the All Progressives Congress’ (APC) Campaign Coordinator in Ahoada-West Council of Rivers State, Mr. Chisom Lennard, during the governorship and House of Assembly elections.

The Command’s spokesperson, Grace Iringe-Koko said the Command is taking inventory of casualties.

She promised to avail The Guardian of a detailed number of persons arrested in connection with electoral violence  as investigations are ongoing.

IN Gombe State, two ballot box snatchers were  shot dead by soldiers.

The Guardian gathered that APC youths led by their leader, popularly called Top Nero, invaded the Governor Yahaya’s Jekadafari polling unit at about 6:50p.m., while collation was ongoing.

Eyewitnesses recalled how Top Nero’s APC youths and “Kalare” boys scaled the fence into the Government Science Secondary School, venue of the election, beat electoral officers and scared away onlookers with cutlasses and other dangerous weapons before carting away the ballot boxes and other sensitive materials.

Helpless Police personnel were however rescued by soldiers stationed at the Cross Roundabout.

The soldiers were said to have killed two ballot box snatchers and shot Nero in the leg, the witness said.

Nero, who allegedly enjoys state patronage and protection was immediately whisked to the state specialist hospital.

The incident was to affect the relationship between the governor and  military personnel.

The governor in an  audio message threatened to either remove or sack the Commandant of 301 artillery brigade, for alleged refusal to “play ball” like heads of other security agencies.

Meanwhile, the police denied any record of any incident in the elections.

The Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO,) Mahid Mu’azu in a phone chat said: “No, we never recorded any violence in Gombe during the two elections.”

IN  Katsina State two suspected terrorists lost their lives after snatching election materials in Batsari Local Council of the state.

The terrorists had invaded Tsabawa community at about 12.20p.m. and started shooting sporadically, before leaving the scene with the materials.

Shortly after the incident, residents alerted the Civilian Joint Task Force (JTF) in the area, and they immediately went after the terrorists.

A JTF member said they were at another village, Kakare, when they were called and informed that three terrorists armed with AK-47 rifles had snatched ballot papers at Tsabawa.

He said that the JTF went after the terrorists, as they knew the route they had followed.

“When we spotted them, we started to exchange gunfire and one of them jumped from the motorcycle, but we arrested him,” he said.

He said that the two others died on the spot from gunshot wounds.

Spokesperson for the Police Command, Gambo Isah confirmed the incident, but said police didn’t have details of what happened.

During the presidential election, thugs suspected to be working for one of the political parties stormed some polling units in Safana council area and made away with six Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS) machines, thereby disrupting the exercise.
Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu, at a media briefing in Abuja, said that the machines were recovered and the voting process continued thereafter.

Also during the presidential election, specifically on eve of the polls, security operatives arrested 15 people in the state capital over plans to interfere with the results.

According to Isah, the suspects, working for a major political party, were apprehended with an unspecified number of computers, along with other gadgets.

A computer expert was reported to have been invited to look at the items seized from the suspects, and they were released the next day after it was discovered they were innocent of any crime.

The Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), according to reports, said its election monitoring team was able to arrest one Tanimu Tabale for vote-buying during the governorship election in the state.

Tabale, 35, was arrested at Tashar Yamma Polling Unit, in Zango council.

He was said to have claimed to be an Election Observer in Makama Poling Unit, but was arrested at Tashar Yamma Polling Unit with the sum of N20,000 in different denominations, attempting to buy votes.

ALSO, three people that include a nephew to Governor Aminu Masari, and two policemen lost their lives in an accident on the eve of the gubernatorial and state Assembly elections.

The accident occurred at Jikamshi village, Musawa Local  Council when Masari’s convoy was moving from the state capital to his hometown, in Kafur council.

The victims were identified as Amadu Ali (Masari’s nephew), Nura Safiyanu and Kabir Adamu- the two policemen.

Three others in the vehicle sustained injuries and were taken to the hospital for medical attention.

During the governorship election, vice chairman of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) in the state, Bala Abu was manhandled and had his head broken by thugs at his polling unit.

Abu was said to have gone to the polling unit to cast his vote, but some thugs suspected to be working for an opposition party attacked him and inflicted him with a head injury.

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