Saturday, 30th September 2023

Violence, voter intimidation, apathy mar supplementary polls

By Charles Ogugbuaja (Owerri) Ann Godwin (Port Harcourt) Michael Egbejule (Benin)
16 April 2023   |   4:38 am
Yesterday's supplementary elections organised by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) bore some similarities with the flawed ones held last month.

Voters during the last general elections

• LP, APC Shun Rerun Elections In Rivers As Voter Apathy Characterise Polls
• Imo Supplementary Poll: Violence, Ballot Snatching Mar Exercise
• Voters Apathy, Low Turnout, Intimidation Mar Supplementary Election In Edo

Yesterday’s supplementary elections organised by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) bore some similarities with the flawed ones held last month.

Ranging from violence, and ballot box snatching to voter intimidation and low voter turnout, the story was the same. In Rivers State, the Labour Party (LP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC), yesterday, shunned the House of Representatives Supplementary election in Khana and Port Harcourt Federal Constituencies in Rivers State. 
The APC candidate for Port Harcourt Federal Constituency 11, Collins Owhonda, dumped his ambition, and the party last Thursday and defected to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), stating that the APC in Rivers was not prepared for the 2023 election. 
Spokesman of the APC Campaign Council in the State, Sogbeye Eli, who confirmed that his party did not participate in the supplementary election, said that earlier elections were fraudulent, stating that figures were allocated to political parties and that the APC was not yet aware of the last figures hence cannot participate in such an exercise. 
Similarly, the LP chairman in the state, Hilda Dokubo, described the elections in the state as “a total illegality and rape of democracy,” hence her party cannot participate in such an exercise. 
Dokubo claimed that the party’s candidate for Port Harcourt Federal Constituency 2, won the last election clearly, but lamented that the result was manipulated and diverted.
However, in the state, The Guardian observed that the process was peaceful in the state, as there were no security breaches, unlike the violence that prevailed last month. Members of the public were also less enthusiastic about the poll, and some resorted to playing street football.  

The PDP candidate for Khana/Gokana Federal Constituency, Dunamene Dekor, described the polls as peaceful and commended security agencies and INEC for discharging their duties well this time. 

THE exercise in Imo State, which took place in the five local councils, was characterised by violence, ballot snatching, and harassment of INEC officials. The turnout was, however, impressive.
Skirmishes were reported in Umuarusi, Anandugba in Isu Local Council, where hoodlums circumvented security operatives and carted away voting materials, including ballot boxes to an unknown destination. 
A similar incident was reported in some areas of Mbaitoli Local Council. In Mbaitoli and Ikeduru local councils, the exercise was scheduled to take place in 58 polling units (PUs), with 60, 807 voters expected to participate. And in Ahiazu Mbaise Local Council, only 12 PUs witnessed the action. There are 13,882 registered voters in the affected area.
In Isu Local Council, the supplementary poll took place in four PUs, with 1, 935 voters scheduled to participate. 
VOTER apathy and voter intimidation marred the supplementary election in Edo State.
Areas where the supplementary election took place were Ovia South West, Egor, Oredo East constituencies, and Orhionmwon/Uhunmonde federal constituency respectively.

In some of the polling units, The Guardian observed a low turnout of voters, while some voters were barred from casting their votes by thugs loyal to one of the participating political parties.
When journalists visited the Agbado polling units 12 to 23, located in Agbado Primary School, some youths suspected to be political thugs accosted them with a warning that only a certain party faithful would be allowed to cast their votes.

“Which of the party do you want to vote for PDP, APC, or Labour? We only need one of them here, we don’t want to see any other party here. If you are for the other party, we would throw you out of the fence,” the thugs barked. 
Also, at Garrick Memorial School, Ward 1, Oredo Local Council, few voters were on the ground to cast their votes. Speaking with journalists at Unit 20, Ward 12, Oredo Local Council, Festus Egharevba, a former local council organising secretary, and election supervisor of Ward 12, said the election was peaceful, but the turnout was low.
He attributed the low turnout of voters to the neighbouring market being operational saying: “You know the people do not play with their business.”

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