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We defied INEC restriction order to help the system, traders at polling units in Abuja say


Voters queue at a polling station in Abuja on February 23, 2019, as they prepare to vote in the presidential election. – Nigerians began voting for a new president on February 23, after a week-long delay that has raised political tempers, sparked conspiracy claims and stoked fears of violence. Some 120,000 polling stations began opening from 0700 GMT, although there were indications of a delay in the delivery of some materials and deployment of staff, AFP reporters said. (Photo by Kola Sulaimon / AFP)

A good number of traders in Abuja on Saturday defied INEC’s restriction on selling and buying of any items around polling units to do business and make money.

The restriction was part of measures to checkmate the act of buying and selling votes during the general elections.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that some of these traders were seen selling various items, particularly food and drinks, as well as mobile phone recharge cards.


They however told NAN that their action was not necessitated only by the need to generate income for themselves, but to “help the system’’.

The traders, mostly women and young boys and girls said they needed to provide food for security operatives and INEC officials on duty.

They also added that their action would help prevent voters from leaving the queue to satisfy their thirst and hunger.

Mrs Asabe Musa, a vendor of cold sachet water, soft drinks and local drinks popularly called “kunu’’ at a polling unit in Kuruduma, said business had been booming for her.

She added that she even came out with the optimism of recouping what she lost on Feb. 16.

The woman said she lost a lot of money due to the cancelation of the election date earlier, and she was optimistic of regaining her loss from Saturday’s patronage.

“They said we should not sell things during the elections, but what are we going to eat? What about those that are coming to vote? Won’t they be thirsty or hungry?’’ Musa querried.

Similarly, Joy Nkem, a snacks seller, said she specifically prepared a lot of snacks and gave some to her children and sister to sell at other nearby polling units.


“I am a classroom teacher and I sell snacks as well to augment my salary. So, I usually sell snacks and drinks during any gathering, and today’s election is not an exception.’’

On his own part, Iliyasu Mansur, a roadside fuel dealer, said he opened his shop immediately after casting his vote because of power outage in the Kobi area, because he was sure he would have increased sales.

“A lot of people would like to monitor the elections through their television and radio sets, as well as the social media. So, because there is no light, people will be forced to use
generating sets to get power supply.’’

He disclosed that no security operative had so far prevented him from selling his product.

Mansur however said he has taken precautionary measures by displaying only empty gallons and was monitoring from a distance before attending to buyers.

He said this was to avoid arrest if there was any move to challenge him by security operatives.

Samuel Danjuma, a commercial motorcyclist, also said he was out to make money because he was unable to vote.

“I could not vote because my name did not appear on the accredited voters list. So, I decided to continue my `okada’ business because there are a lot of passengers that are stranded and I will make money.’’

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