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Saturday, 21 November 2015

Kogi guber poll: Violence prevalent in Lokoja





Rampant failure of Smart Card Readers, threats from miscreants loyal to certain political parties, apathy, occasioned by distance, citing of polling units far away from residential areas, were some of the teething challenges that confronted the Kogi governorship election in most part of Lokoja, the state capital.


Our correspondent who monitored the election in various polling units in the state capital reports that though the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) performed creditably well in ensuring an early arrival of electoral materials, some of the card readers deployed either failed to read the fingers of the candidates or developed other operational problems.
The situation, according our correspondent, resulted in an outright abandonment of the card readers for Incidence Forms in some polling units like 006 Adankolo, LGEA Primary School and Ajagbe Ward, where incidentally there was low turnout of voters.
Commenting on the failure of the card readers, Kasim Husain, an INEC accredited local observer at Ajagbe Ward, lamented that the situation left the electoral officers with no other option than to resort to use of Incidence Forms to compliment the two remaining machines.
“The only visible problem we have in this ward was the problem of failure of a Card Reader. INEC supplied three machines to this polling centre because it is one of the largest in the state capital, but one of them developed problem that they had to resort to use of Incidence Forms and the other two other machines,” he noted.
However, beyond the failure of card readers, there was also obvious case of open threats from gang of miscreants loyal to certain political party warning security agents to leave their duty posts and allow them take charge of the election totally in Adankolo ward.
While threatening to open fire on anybody who tries to stop them, the scrappy and shabbily-looking hoodlums cautioned the voters to behave of risk their attack.
“We will shot anybody who tries to stop us. We want the police to leave here because our candidate must win this election. Don’t force me to bring out this gun,” one of them said, trying to raise his t-shirt to reveal the gun.
Commenting on the situation, a Justice and Equity Organisation accredited local observer, Bafunso Tunde, said: “After going round over 25 polling units in five local government areas, I can tell you that the biggest challenge was the failure of the card reader. By my rating, card reader performed below 20 per cent, which forced INEC to resort to the use of Incidence Forms to cover-up the problem.
“Besides the card reader, with the prevailing security situation, we have to amend the law stopping security agents in charge of securing the voting centres from carrying arms. At this Adankolo Primary School, there were about seven boys that threatened the law enforcement agents with guns, they claimed they were carrying, ordering them to leave the voting centre and allow them to operate the way they want or they will start shooting.
“They jumped the fence and left after the threat and everybody pretended as if nothing happened. Nobody accosted them certainly not even the armless policemen and there were no armed security personnel around to complement the armless ones,” he quipped.
In most voting centres, there were physical fighting and harassment among many of the voters interested in benefitting from the financial largesse open shared by the agents of political parties assigned for that purpose in most parts of the voting centres.
In fact, some of the electorates got as high as N2000 in the cash for vote reward while others got just the N500 lowest benchmark from the parties scheming to outsmart each other. At Polling Unit 014 LGA Secretariat, some of the electorates even threw caution to the wind as they openly engage each other in a physical combat for attempting to short-change them.
A voter who spoke to Sunday Sun in confidence, said: “The N500 you saw them sharing at the voting centres are for those that did not stay awake on Friday night.
“As at 1.00am to 3.00am, some of the political parties gave amounts ranging from N3000 to N5000 as cash for vote, but it was for only those who could stay that late benefitted. We have to collect that money because once they win the election, they won’t care about us any longer. This is our own national cake,” he quipped.

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