Wole Ayodele in Jalingo
As elections into the sixteen local government councils in Taraba held yesterday, the state Independent Electoral Commission (SIEC) has suspended elections in Ibi Local Government Council over violence that erupted in the area.
Confirming the suspension to newsmen, Chairman of the Commission, Dr. Philip Duwe said the suspension became necessary to avoid an escalation of the violence that led to destruction of properties worth millions of naira.
According to the SIEC boss, “Yes we have suspended elections in Ibi to avoid further destruction of property. We have succeeded in securing the electoral officer and we are trying to secure the electoral materials so that we will seat down after and think of how to go about it.”
He however noted that apart from Ibi, election was going on peacefully in the remaining 15 LGAs just as he expressed the Commission’s commitment to conduct a credible election that would be acceptable to all the parties concerned.
THISDAY investigation revealed that violence broke out at Ibi on Friday night as youths from the area held the Divisional Police Officer and the electoral officials hostage at the Divisional Police Headquarters where the electoral materials were kept.
The youths, chanting war songs, insisted that the returning officer must come out to address them before they’ll disperse or allow the materials to be distributed to the various polling units.
Hell was however let loose when information got to the youths that the Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Mr. Ilyasu Mohammed, who is an indigene of the local government, was holding meeting with some stakeholders somewhere in the town.
The youths mobilised themselves to the area at about 1:00am and caused serious pandemonium and in the ensuing melee, the official vehicle of the commissioner, a SUV worth over N25m was set ablaze by the rampaging youths.
It was not immediately known how long the suspension of the election would last but all electoral materials kept at the police station were later moved back to Jalingo, the state capital. While this protest was going on, the police did nothing to halt the protesters from their illegal action. No arrests were made as at the time of filing this report.
In other parts of the state, voting started on schedule and progressed smoothly. Governor Darius Ishaku voted at his Gahwetun Ward in Takum Local Council Area. He was accompanied by his wife, Barrister Anna Darius Ishaku who also voted.
Speaking after casting his vote, Ishaku said he was generally satisfied by the organisation and procedure outlined for the elections and the conduct of voters in several local council areas. “The reports I’m getting indicate that the turn-out is good and people are conducting themselves well at polling stations. He said elections were critical to democracy and urged the people to support the government to make the election successful.
On his expectations after the exercise, Ishaku said he was expecting his party, the People’s Democratic Party to win because “Our candidates have worked hard and the result of hard work is success.”
THISDAY also gathered that election could not be held at Bachama village in Karim Lamidi local government area as youths in the area were said to have burnt the results sheets.
Meanwhile, the elections were generally peaceful in the remaining local government areas as at filing the report though elections could not start as scheduled in many areas due to delay in the arrival of electoral materials.
Mostly affected by the delay were Wukari, Gassol, Donga, Bali and Gashaka local government areas while election commenced early in Zing, Lau, Jalingo, Ardo Kola and Yorro local government areas.