2019 Election: 20 die as violence mars elections:
No fewer than 17 people were killed across the country yesterday as violence erupted during the Presidential and National Assembly elections.
The army confirmed six in Rivers State alone.
Three of the victims died at different polling units at Okota, a suburb of Lagos, and three in Sapele, Delta State, two each in Bayelsa and Kogi States while one each was killed in Oyo and Zamfara States.
The remaining two died on Friday during a clash between supporters of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ebonyi State.
Sequel to the violence, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has decided to hold fresh elections in some parts of Lagos, Rivers and Anambra States.
INEC Commissioner and chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, announced the development said the move was on account of disruption.
He said: “The commission has received reports of violence and ballot box snatching in some areas leading to the disruption of the process. We have asked the Resident Electoral Commissioners RECs and the Electoral Officials on ground to submit their firsthand reports in relation to some of these incidents. We are still receiving reports relating to incidences in some states of the federation but we have received reports relating to incidences in Akuku Toru and Bonny local government areas of Rivers state.
“So long as the commission could not deploy in these areas, the implication is that voting did not take place in those areas and the commission will hold consultations with the relevant authorities and the Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) in relation to these areas and will announce the date when polls will take place in some of these areas, especially in relation to the areas as they affect the House of Representatives and Senatorial elections.
“It is not only in Rivers that we had reports of burning of electoral materials. We have such reports from Anambra and Lagos States as well as some other places.”
The victims in Rivers State included two brothers and a soldier.
Sources identified one of the victims in Lagos simply as Peter. He was said to be a barber and was allegedly shot and stabbed to death at Powerline, Canal Estate in Okota by thugs who stormed the polling station in an attempt to disrupt the electoral process.
Another was identified as Demola, a leader of the Oodua People’s Congress (OPC) in the area who was lynched by a mob for allegedly denying them a right to vote.
The identity of the third man could not be immediately established, but he was stabbed to death at Last Bus Stop, Ago Okota.
Residents alleged that the thugs first showed their intent as early as 8am when they stormed the area threatening prospective voters.
They blamed the police and soldiers for not acting on reports about the activities of the alleged hoodlums.
An eye witness said: “Those guys were armed with guns and cutlass. We had policemen and soldiers here and I personally told them that those guys seated under the umbrella there were thugs and not voters in this area.
“We told them to do their job by chasing them away or arresting them but surprisingly, the security people left. They only left one police van here and the policemen inside had just stick.
“As soon as those policemen and soldiers left, these boys started scattering everywhere. They destroyed the ballot boxes but we were able to secure the presidential ballot box because we had voted.
“They killed one barber and injured many people here. We called the police and soldiers for reinforcement. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) officials ran away for their lives. Soldiers later came to rescue them.
“But why we are angry now is that the INEC doesn’t want to continue our election. They said they will not count our votes here and we have refused. There are police and soldiers here, so, let them count the votes of our presidential election. At least, they could not scatter that.”
Some of the hoodlums also stormed polling unit 023, Ago Palace Way, and set fire to thumb printed ballot papers.
However, the voters fought back and the thugs fled on a motorcycle.
One of them was however unlucky and was subsequently seized with his motorcycle which was immediately set ablaze.
The suspect was beaten and later handed over to the police.
Ten others were arrested also at Okota.
The police arrested nine other suspected thugs at Somolu, Lagos for allegedly molesting voters with charms, six in Epe, three at Ajao Estate, Lagos.
Soldiers arrested two persons at Aguda, Surulere, Lagos.
One of the suspects Yusuf, said a politician asked him to come to a polling unit for an unknown reason.
Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) David Folawiyo and Police Commissioner Zubairu Muazu went round the city to monitor the security situation.
Leader of OPC in Okota, Prince Osipote, denied the thugs who disrupted elections in the area. He said they were not members of the OPC.
Addressing reporters after a meeting with his men, Muazu said a total of 23 persons were arrested in the state for attempts to disrupt the elections which he described as generally peaceful in the state.
He said: “We went round several polling units and it was generally peaceful. We had a few cases of disruption of election process. The most important was the one at Okota where few polling units were attacked.
“Some hoodlums went there when election was ongoing and disrupted the process. We heard the rumour that people were killed but we went there and we did not see any corpse. The DPO did not see anyone that was killed.
“In Okota, nine suspects were arrested. They came on motorcycles and 10 of these were recovered. Okota is a very large area and we cannot deploy armed policemen to polling units. The armed policemen were far off. That was why the hoodlums were able to strike and fled before armed policemen could get there.
“It is indeed a breach of the restriction order. I wonder where they came from but the case is under investigation and we will find out where they came from.
Unknown gunmen were blamed for the killings in Sapele.
Sources said the hoodlums swooped on voters as they queued to exercise their franchise at Amukpe area of Sapele and unexpectedly opened fire.
Two persons died on the spot while another died in the hospital.
Two other persons hit by bullets are now receiving treatment in the hospital.
The motive of the gunmen could not be immediately established.
A resident of the area said: “I’m not sure they carted election materials away, but I saw that the ground of the place was littered with electoral materials, giving me the impression that they only scattered the materials.”
Police Commissioner Adeleke Adeyinka said he was yet to be briefed on the incident.
But a security source said: “immediately we heard of the situation, we moved in to take over the area so as to stabilize it and prevent a further escalation of the situation.” – The Nation.