Monitors allege intimidation amidst peaceful poll

2011-04-17
VANGUARD Newspaper


Across the country, yesterday’s presidential election was generally peaceful. There were also reports of low and high turnout of voters.

In Abuja, there was massive turn out of voters just as civil society organizations (CSOs) under the aegis of Situation Room raised the alarm over the alleged arrest and intimidation of its observers.

In a report made available to newsmen, yesterday, in Abuja and signed by Clement Nwankwo and Jibril Ibrahim, the groups said: “We note with dismay the seemingly systematic and coordinated intimidation and arrest of our observers deployed to observe the presidential election.

“We are particularly disturbed by reports of these attacks in Jos, Plateau State. Although we understand that some of the observers were subsequently released, we have received reports of several other similar cases.

In Warri North in Delta State, three observers were detained. Two were later released; one is still being held. Tellingly, this was the same ward where observers were detained for seven hours during the voters’ registration.

“Another area of serious concern is that of massive thumb-printing which was observed in Soku, Akuku Toro LGA in Rivers State. In Benue State, the chairperson of a publishing outfit was caught in a vehicle with previously thumb-printed ballot papers.

A related issue is that of ballot box snatching. Again in Benue State, six ballot boxes were snatched at Achia Ikyurav-Ya in Kwande LGA, and an undisclosed number were snatched from Pus in Shough council ward, Gweru East LG by Hon. Christine Alaago”.


An underage voter in Keffi
The group also noted that “the problem of underage voting was widely observed in many polling units in Bauchi, Gombe, Kaduna, Kano, Plateau, Nasarawa and Taraba states. In Gombe State in particular, it was reported that irate youths attempted to lynch the Resident Electoral Commissioner and some journalists present who tried to intervene”.

Lagos: 30 thugs, six aliens arrested

In Lagos State, immigration officers arrested six aliens and one under-aged girl, who tried to vote during the election at Amuwo-Odofin.

The exercise was generally peaceful and hitch-free and voters’ turnout was impressive. Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) officials and security agents arrived at the polling booths on time and accreditation started timely. In many polling centres, a windy queue of people stretching up to 200 metres was seen.

At Kuje-Amuwo, six foreigners, who were trying to vote at some of the polling units within the vicinity were apprehended by immigration officials.

Confirming the incident, Inspector E.O Oduh, said the Immigration officials intercepted the foreigners – three Ghanaians and three Nigeriens – as well as an under-aged, who tried to vote.

No fever than 3 suspected thugs were arrested by policemen and army officers during the elections at Mushin after an attack on a polling centre. The thugs, numbering over 50, reportedly invaded a polling centre at Mosalasi with guns and other dangerous weapons as they created panic with heavy gun firing, leaving prospective voters running helter skelter.

The arrested persons were taken to Area D Command headquarters on along Isolo Road for investigations.

At a briefing, the state police commissioner, Suleiman Abba, described the election as ‘relatively peaceful’, and that he had not been briefed of the arrest of the hoodlums.

Nasarawa: Polling officers flee to palace to escape thugs

Polling officers at Yelwa community in Agwada Development Area of Kokona Local Government Area of Nasarawa State, yesterday, fled to the palace of Sarkin Yelwa (traditional ruler), Alhaji Maiwada Dauda, after thugs, allegedly working for the one of the political parties, snatched the ballot box there and attempted to abduct them.

The presiding officer of Yelwa thugs stormed the polling unit and attempted to snatch ballot materials from the electoral personnel; at 1p.m. after voting commenced at the station.

He said policeman and some Civil Defence personnel attached to the polling station did not act.

The Divisional Police Officer in the area, Mr. Patrick Onah Agbo, confirmed the incident when contacted on phone, saying, “I sent the D.O. (Divisional Officer) in Agwada to go there. The Civil Defence man called him and said that the matter has been resolved there. That they have started voting.”

But a voter there said voting came to a halt after the thugs left with ballot materials.

Osun: Voters apathy
There was apathy in the presidential election in Osun State as the exercise was characterized by low turnout of voters.

However, Governor Rauf Aregbesola, who voted at 12.51 p.m. at unit 001, ward 08, Ifofin area, Ilesa, expressed a different view, saying the outcome of the election at the end of the day would justify whether people turned out for the exercise or not, stressing that most voters only got to the poll centres late.

The governor, who expressed delight at the security situation in the state during the election, said, “The security situation in Osun today was excellent. Osun would have won award for being the most peaceful state during this year’s elections but for the unfortunate incidence of last week where some people including a pastor were killed.”

Edo: ACN members vote Jonathan

THE presidential election in Edo State witnessed large turn out and peaceful conduct with political leaders in the state describing it as a great improvement from the last weekend’s National Assembly elections.

There was no reported case of violence in the state and the presence of the military at strategic areas in the state immensely helped in ensuring security. Election materials arrived the units as early as 6:30a.m. while accreditation commenced at 8 a.m. Sunday Vanguard observed that the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) members were voting for Jonathan.

Governor Adams Oshiomhole; former Governor Lucky Igbinedion; Chief Tony Anenih; vice-presidential candidate of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), Chief John Odigie Oyegun; minister of state for works, Dr Chris Ogienwonyi; former deputy governor and Edo State coordinator for Jonathan/Sambo campaign, Lucky Imasuen and the former chief whip of the Senate, Senator Rowland Owie, hailed the conduct of the election by INEC and expressed optimism that the best candidate will emerge.

Oshiomhole, who spoke after casting his vote at his ward 10, unit 1,Iyamho Primary School, Etsako Central Local Government Council, said: “ I believe that, today, INEC has improved substantially. No body complained about not finding his name in the register or that I wanted to vote but some body blocked me. And I think the security agents have also been fantastic. They conducted themselves in a very civil manner”.

Anenih asserted:”The election is very peaceful. Turn out very impressive. Security arrangement is perfect. INEC arrangement is perfect; it has been an impressive free and fair election”.

Igbinedion predicted victory for Jonathan, saying that “ as a son of the South-South, it is Jonathan and the PDP all the way”. Oyegun, who commended the turn out, stated: “Today’s election was better organized than that of the National Assembly. I am happy that the complaint we made last time as regards omission of names of persons who registered has been corrected.”

Delta: Gun battle as PDP, DPP youths clash

GUNSHOTS boomed, Friday night, at Ugborikoko, Effurun, near Warri in Uvwie Local Government Area of Delta State following a clash between suspected political thugs of the PDP and Democratic Peoples Party, DPP.

Sunday Vanguard learnt that some vehicles were destroyed during the fracas but no life was lost. However, the incident has heightened the tension between the two political parties ahead of the April 26 governorship election.

A source said trouble started when some youths, suspected to be DPP faithful, accosted Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan, who held a meeting with some Ugborikoko chiefs at the home of Chief Joel Akporehe, to solicit the votes of the people for the April 26 election.

It was gathered that some DPP youths insisted they were not carried along by the elders and demanded “settlement” from the governor, as the area is purportedly a DPP territory.

According to the source, the governor was harassed by the youths and when the information got to PDP youths, they mobilized and stormed the area in search of the DPP “boys” that harassed the governor.

Hell was practically let loose, as both sides exchanged gunfire and vehicles were destroyed.

Meanwhile, trading activities at the Ughelli main market was in full swing during yesterday’s presidential election.

Our correspondent who monitored the election in Ughelli North, Ughelli South, Ethiope East, Isoko North, Isoko South and Bomadi local government areas reported that the election was peaceful in the areas.

Ballot materials were distributed to various wards and polling units as early as 7:00a.m. in Ughelli and accreditation of voters started about 8a.m. Unlike what happened during the April 9 National Assembly elections, there was no single incident of ballot box snatching in the areas.

At Otu-Jeremi, Ughelli South local government, the state deputy governor, Prof Amos Utuama, SAN, who voted at 12:10 p.m. at unit 4, Jeremi ward II, said the large turnout of eligible voters was a reflection of the support the people of Delta have for Jonathan.

The state commissioner for lands, survey and urban development, Chief Fred Majemite, the member representing Ughelli South local government in the state House of Assembly, Olorogun Taleb Tebite, former managing director of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Chief Emmanuel Aguariavwodo, and former commissioner for local government and chieftaincy affairs in the state, Dr Ebenezer Okorodudu, who also spoke to newsmen separately, spoke in the same vein.

They attributed the peaceful conduct of the election to the absence of opposition to the president in Delta, adding that about 80% of the political parties in the state had a consensus to vote for him.

10 election observers of the Transition Monitoring Group, TMG, who were held hostage by youths of some communities in the state during penultimate Saturday’s presidential poll, were handed over to the police at the Koko Police Station, Koko in Warri North local government area of Delta state, later yesterday.

Delta coordinator of TMG, Oghenejabor Ikimi, told Sunday Vanguard at 4.00 p.m. that information reached him indicated that the observers were brought to Koko police station, Koko, where they were detained for unknown reasons.


Soldiers in Abuja, Saturday.
He gave the names of the arrested observers as Okotie-Eboh Samuel, Okuboye Jimmy, Iweha Charles, Dukuye Edirin, Ogbe Collins, Adams Okiemute, Isaac Lucky, Osadjere Paul, Ohowojero Samuel and Lucky Anayifek.

Ikimi said he was surprised that the election observers were made to pass through such ordeal when they wore TMG vests and had with them identity cards of the body, which were shown to their captors.

Contacted on the matter, the Delta State police spokesman, Mr. Charles Muka, that the matter was being addressed.

Cross River: Peaceful poll

In Cross River State, Governor Liyel Imoke described the presidential election as peacefully conducted throughout the state devoid of any report of thuggery or any form of disorder.

Imoke, who was accompanied by his wife, Obioma, stated this while fielding questions from news men shortly after casting his vote at the Government Primary School, Itigidi, Abi Local Government Area, declared that” the election is very very peaceful, election is very orderly and very credible”.

Rivers: Large turnout, youths unruly

The presidential election was almost marred in ward 10, Ahoada East local government area of Rivers State when some youths stopped INEC officials for several hours from distributing materials for the election.

The youths said until they were settled by politicians in the area, the election would not hold. The state REC, Mr Aniedi Ikoiwak, who lamented the action of the youths, wondered what they meant by “they had not been settled by politicians from the area. “

It took intervention of security operatives before accreditation could commence in the ward.

There was shortage of ballot papers at Eligbolo ward 7, Unit 3. Voters generally turned enmasse for the exercise. Accreditation started early in several wards visited.

Kwara: Strongman of politics stays away, 14 ACN members detained

Turnout was low in Ilorin, Kwara State capital, and other major cities in the state even as the election was generally peaceful.

Also,the security agents enforced restriction of movement.

Meanwhile, heavily armed military men invaded Iludun Oro in the Irepodun local government area of the state on Friday night to arrest 15 members of ACN including Kwara South Senatorial candidate, Mr Aanu Ibiwoye, over clash between the supporters of the party and those of the PDP.

Ibiwoye, who spoke on the development, said he was released in the wee hours of yesterday on his personal recognition, saying fourteen others were still in detention.

Contacted, the state Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Dabo Ezekiel, confirmed the arrest.

Meanwhile, the strongman of Kwara politics, Dr Olusola Saraki, shunned the election, but Governor Bukola Saraki and the gubernatorial candidate of ACPN, Senator Gbemisola Ruqqayat Saraki, did their accreditation and voted at different times at the same polling booth at Opobiyi in Agbaji ward.

Governor Saraki, shortly after casting his vote, described the exercise as successful.

In his remarks after casting his vote in his Emir’s road family compound the ACN governorship candidate in the state, Alhaji Mohammed Dele Belgore (SAN), said the exercise though peaceful has a very low turn out of the electorate.

Gbemisola Saraki whose party did not have a presidential candidate stressed that she had the right to vote for any candidate of her choice.
Abia: Hundreds fail to vote

THE presidential election went smoothly in Abia State. Reports from across the state said the turn out was impressive. There was a general remarkable improvement on the performance of INEC.

In Umuahia, after Governor Theodore Orji voted at about 12.30 p.m. at his Ugba Community School Polling Unit, he expressed happiness at the impressive turn-out.

Also, after voting Unit 5, Central School, Umukabia, Umuahia North Council, a PDP chieftain, Chief Ikechi Emenike, noted that there was great improvement from what the nation witnessed in 2007, but “I think it is not yet Uhuru for the country”.

At the same Umukabia, a lot of voters, including old men and women who came out, could not vote. According to them, over 400 people from the unit could not vote because INEC moved their names to a polling unit at Umuosu, Okaiga Nkwoegwu, which has about 21 persons who registered. They called INEC to rectify the anomaly to enable them vote.
Niger: 13 underaged voters held

In Niger State, accreditation and voting were smooth.

The turnout of eligible voters, especially in Minna, the state capital, was large.

However, in some villages visited, including Konapi Unit in Kampala Ward, Area Court Polling Unit, Maikunkele in Bosso local government area, Primary 1&2 Polling Unit Beji, and Hausawan Unit at Zungeru Ward in Wushishi local government area of the state, there was low turnout especially the females and many underaged had a field day as they were accredited and allowed to vote.

Meanwhile, the state commissioner of police, Alhaji Bala Hassan, arrested 13 underaged (names withheld) in Minna, attempting to vote.

Niger State police spokesman, Richard Oguche said that besides being arrested, their parents will be traced and will be held criminally liable.

The arrested underaged will be prosecuted at the juvenile court tomorrow.

Akwa Ibom: Tight security

In Akwa Ibom State, the presidential election was conducted under a peaceful atmosphere, even as soldiers were absent on major roads in Uyo, the state capital where security was largely provided by anti-riot policemen

 

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