POLITICAL parties did not prove bookmakers wrong that Kogi state would be a theatre of war, as thugs across party divides disrupted the process on Saturday.
Officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), in most cases, were on ground on schedule for simultaneous accreditation and voting.
In places visited by Sunday Tribune in Kogi East, the process commenced on time as election supervisors were indifferent to the open process of voter inducement by foot-soldiers of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and its main rival, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
At a polling unit in Ochadamu, Ofu Local Government Area of the state, thugs overwhelmed the INEC ad hoc staff on ground and carted away voting materials to perpetrate ballot stuffing. There was no police presence.
As of 3.45 p.m., thugs had stormed the polling centre inside Ganaja Primary School, Ajaokuta in Kogi East Senatorial district.
They were, however, stopped by security men and some of the vigilant voters.
Sunday Tribune findings revealed that the voting centre had 21 polling points.
Two shot, INEC officials abducted, fake civil defence officials nabbed
Violence marred the election, particularly in Dekinal Local Government Area of the state, as two persons were reportedly shot at Egume Police Station Polling Unit in the local government.
Sunday Tribune also gathered that officials of INEC and some electoral materials were hijacked, while two fake officials of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) were nabbed in the process.
It was gathered that the two shot persons wanted to snatch ballot boxes when they were shot by security agents.
Also, in Lokoja, violence erupted at four polling centres, as hoodlums snatched ballot boxes but at Bishop Crowther Local Government Education Authority Primary School.
It was gathered that the election officials were kidnapped at the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) Polling Unit.
Ballot boxes were also snatched at the centre, as it was thrown into commotion with voters scampering to safety. The disruption of voting at the centre affected the conduct of the election.
2015 materials used by INEC
In Ward 001 of Dekina Local Government, where the governorship candidate of the PDP, Mr Musa Wada, and his elder brother, Captain Idris Wads, also a chieftain of the party, cast their votes, voters on ground complained over the difference in the date on the ballot stamp and ballot papers presented by INEC.
While the stamp was embossed with 2015, the ballot papers had 2019.
Speaking with Sunday Tribune, the supervising officer, Imokhuede Emmanuel, said there was no cause for alarm, adding that he would use pen to correct the error on the stamp before handing ballot papers over to voters.
Former governor of the state, Wada, told journalists that he got reports that ad hoc staffers of INEC were chased away by thugs who smashed ballot boxes, while blaming INEC for poor logistic arrangements.
“Seven ballot boxes were snatched and our youths on national service, who were ad hoc, INEC staff, were chased away. I am not accusing anybody; we need a process with minimal human intervention so that people don’t abuse the process. It is very sad. People’s houses were burnt overnight, just because they want to come out to vote.
“Again why should we have delay in bringing materials for voting, despite assurances by INEC?” he queried.
SDP alleges conduct of ‘election’ overnight
Meanwhile the Social Democratic Party (SDP) has alleged that ‘election’ was held in the state the previous night.
SDP said the election of the Kogi Central Senatorial district of the state where the incumbent governor hails from had been conducted overnight.
Speaking with journalists, the state chairman of the party, Alhaji Mouktar Atimah, said the governorship election in Kogi Central was rigged in the night, adding that this was why the All Progressives Congress (APC) agents were not present in most of the polling units.
“The absence of APC agents at the polling units has affirmed the information we got that the APC had conducted the election of Kogi Central in the night. They are the most desperate party in this election. The absence of their agents in most of the polling units is not by accident. Since they have already rigged the election, they consider it a waste of time to be here with other parties,” he said.
Fake NSCDC officials nabbed —PDP
Deputy Director, Public Communications of the Kogi State Peoples Democratic Party Campaign Council, Usman Austin, on Saturday, said two men who dressed in the uniform of officials of the NSCDC were apprehended in Ayingba by the people. He said the suspects were later handed over to the police.
He added that electoral materials in Odu 1 and 2 wards and Community High School, Ayingba were hijacked by thugs, adding that the thugs came in a Volkswagen Golf car.
“Two men who dressed in fake civil defence attire were apprehended by the people. The police took them to the area commander’s office at Ayingba. At Community High School, voting materials were hijacked by the thugs. Some people came in a Golf car, stole the materials and ran away.
“In wards 1 and 2 of Odu, the election materials had been hijacked by the thugs,” he said.
At St. Peters Primary School Polling Unit in Felele, Lokoja Local Government Area, some hoodlums invaded the venue and disrupted the election, while the security men in the polling unit could not do anything.
Some of the INEC officials did not arrive most of the polling unit until about 8.30 a.m. before they commenced accreditation of voters.
Gunmen invade workers village
It was also gathered that masked men invaded polling units in popular workers village in Lokoja, shooting sporadically and snatching ballot boxes.
Sunday Tribune gathered that the masked men arrived the scene when voters had already cast their votes.
They were said to have arrived the area in Toyota Hilux vehicles, shooting, as they disembarked, to scare away the people.
An eyewitness told Sunday Tribune that the invaders went away with the ballot boxes.
Meanwhile, journalists covering the election process in Ayetoro area of Kogi State were attacked by some angry youths after thugs carted away ballot boxes at ward 01, unit 004, where Senator Dino Melaye had earlier voted.
Thugs numbering about 10 invaded the polling unit in two Hilux vans and a Honda Civic car, shooting into the air and targeting the ballot boxes. The ballot boxes were eventually taken away, while some people in the community chased the vehicles without success.
A young man simply identified as Dami, who just left a local eatery and was passing through the polling unit was shot in the leg. He was rushed to a hospital.
Enraged by the action of the thugs, some youths in the community blocked roads leading to the area and made bonfires.
It was in the process that the group of journalists ran into the melee and got trapped in the community.
While the journalists were trying to make their way out of the community, they were attacked and their vehicle got damaged.