A 25-year-old man, Monsuru Hamzat became the first victim at a polling unit at Agbongbon area in Ibadan, Oyo State, as he died after being hit by pellets, after some hoodlums who allegedly accompanied a former governor of Oyo State, Taofeek Arapaja allegedly fired shots on arrival at Ward 2, Unit 14 at the area on Saturday.
Confirming the incident, the state Commissioner of Police, Shina Olukolu told Sunday Tribune that voting had been concluded and ballot papers were being counted when the former governor came, allegedly in company with one Akin and Edilla, as well as some hoodlums.
He accused them of disrupting the counting exercise by firing a shot.
“Pellets hit Hamzat and he was rushed to the hospital. Sadly he died,” the police commissioner explained.
Olukolu said that Arapaja fled the scene with those in his company, but added that he (police commissioner) had handed over the case to the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department (SCIID), Iyaganku, Ibadan, for investigation.
However, when contacted, Alhaji Arapaja denied the story narrated by the police commissioner, saying that the shoe was on the other foot, as he was the target of the shooters.
He said he usually cast his vote at his ward at Agbongbon and was thereafter voting ended and counting began.
According to the former deputy governor, “I am happy some reporters and security operatives were there. Nobody came with me.”What I experienced today, I have never experienced it before.
“My ward has units 13 and 14. I sat while votes were being counted. Those that were there saw that my party was leading.
“As counting started at the second unit, I sat down to see the end of the counting. About 20 minutes into it, we started hearing sounds of gunshots, as some people ran into the area.
“One of them was saying: ‘Where is Arapaja? Where is Arapaja? Obviously, I was their target.
“I had to run for my dear life. I was sitting in front of a house, so I ran into one of the houses there and escaped from there. They took the ballot boxes away.
“The invaders were led by Edilla mentioned by the Commissioner of Police and they are working for leaders in another political party (names withheld).
“They are only trying to turn the story upside down to favour the thugs and those they are working for. We know those boys. They escaped through the Kudeti River.
“We had earlier reported them that they came to my family house area and started tearing up posters that do not belong to their paymaster’s party. But nothing was done to the complaint I lodged.
“It is strange; how can I be shooting at my polling unit?
“It seems the police are covering up for these people. I don’t think people are safe in this country; Nigeria is in grave danger.”
The police commissioner also disclosed that a man, Adeyemi Ayomide, was arrested at Agodi area when he came in company with another man to, allegedly, snatch a ballot box.
According to him, the suspect was arrested and ballot papers and boxes were safe.
Before the news of the shooting, the Commissioner of Police, in company with heads of security agencies, went to many polling units in Ibadan city and Oyo town, where he said all activities were observed as peaceful.
In his convoy were the heads of the Nigeria Immigration Service, Federal Road Safety Corps, Nigeria Customs Service, Directorate of State Services, National Drug Law enforcement Agency, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Nigeria Prison Service, as well as other senior police officers and different police teams and escorts.
Speaking with journalists at one of the polling units visited, Olukolu said: “we do not envisage any threat to peace. We try to find out from the officials whether there are issues they want us to rectify. But they told us things were perfectly okay. We observed that there was great turnout of voters, showing that Nigerians are interested in voting, and they feel secure and safe.”
He assured that nothing untoward would occur, saying: “Security has been provided, and the patrol teams are on the roads. As we go along, we will continue to review the situation. Then, we will cross all ‘t’s and dot the ‘i’s.”
A voter, Mrs Olubunmi Adegbesan, however, complained that her name could not be found on the voters’ list, which made her be denied of her right to vote.
Mrs Adegbesan said she was however surprised that the names before and after her name were on the list.
“I registered as a voter at 72, Obafemi Awolowo Road, at St John’s Primary School. We moved out of the area, but this morning, I trekked to where I registered, despite living a far distance away.
“But to my surprise, I could not find my name on the list,” she said.