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Violence, ballot snatching, trail voting in parts of Bayelsa


Bayelsa State governor Seriake Dickson cast his vote at a polling centre in Bayelsa on Saturday, November 16, 2019.

Voters in Bayelsa State Saturday showed up in their numbers to participate in the governorship election held in the state amid challenges including rain, anticipated aggressions and pre-election tension.

The voting process started as early as 8 am in many polling units. But the exercise was marred by several constraints including the absence of security personnel, transportation hitches and late delivery of electoral materials.

Ballot snatching was also reported and observed to have occurred some areas including the Yenegoa metropolis and Southern Ijaw.

An election official told The Guardian at Polling Unit 14, Opolo Old Town Hall, Yenegoa, that voting was disrupted by thugs.

“Some guys came and began to ask about the ballot paper,” she said. “After some time, they eventually went into where the ballot paper was kept.

“I couldn’t get a grasp of the number of men because I was attending to the accreditation of voters. But then, all of a sudden, we saw another man approach with force, violently kicked at the table and all items scattered around.

“People began to scamper for safety. Even the Police did not wait, they kept yelling: ‘Run, run for your lives,'” she said.

The assistant presiding officer, who pleaded anonymity, told our reporter that accreditation at the polling unit began late due to the late arrival of materials. Consequently, the polling unit was still at the accreditation stage when the fracas ensued.

The polling unit was less than a minute drive from the heavily secured RAC centre at Opolo, where almost a dozen Police vans with several Armed officers sat idle.

Another Polling Unit, Edepie Community Primary School, materials arrived 15 minutes to 12 noon. The Polling Unit 17 Presiding Officer told The Guardian that materials arrived due to delays caused by transport hitches.

The Guardian gathered that INEC had made local transportation arrangements ahead but arrangements were breached. INEC had to make new arrangements. This, however, led to delays in delivery of sensitive materials to several Polling Units.

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