Yekini Jimoh in Lokoja
The Kogi State Police Command saturday confirmed that two persons were killed during the Lokoja/Kogi House of Representatives bye election, which was marred by violence, intimidation and voting buying.
Beside the two cases of death recorded, an authoritative source said two agents of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) shot during the process, which Chief Edward Onoja, Chief of Staff of Kogi State Governor, Mr. Yahaya Bello allegedly disrupted.
Spokesman of the police command, Mr. William Aya confirmed the incident in Lokoja yesterday, noting that electoral violence had claimed at least two person during the bye election.
He said that the latest victim, who he identified as Yadau Umoru was killed at Ugwan Pawa polling unit, in front of Maigari palace while attempting to snatch a ballot box.
According to him, the corpse of the deceased has been deposited in the morgue of the Federal Medical Centre, Lokoja.
An unidentified man had earlier in the day been killed by a mob at the polling unit located by Abuja Electricity Distribution Company’s office in Lokoja, while also attempting to snatch a ballot box.
He noted that the identity of the unfortunate man was unknown. The by-election which started peacefully, with impressive turnout of voters, later became characterised by vote-buying and violence, including ballot box-snatching.
THISDAY checks revealed that the victim was killed at NEPA polling center, Lokoja just as the agents shot during the bye-election for Kogi/Koto-Karfe federal constituency.
THISDAY, also, gathered that some political thugs allegedly invaded the polling center to scatter the ballot boxes, leading outbreak of fracas that claimed one life.
With the outbreak of violence, THISDAY learnt that officials of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) including corp members had to run for their lives.
Among others, Chief Press Secretary to former Speaker of Kogi State House of Assembly, Hon. Umar Ali confirmed that two agent of SDP were shot during a session with select journalists.
He said the names of the agents “are still unknown as at the time of filing this report. The two agents have been taken to an unknown hospital for treatment.
He said they were shot inside their vehicle along Federal Medical Centre road in Lokoja.
Also, in paparanda and karaworo voting units in Lokoja, voters complained of intimidation and harassment by the government agents and political appointees.
A member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mallam Mohammed Balga was said to have been beaten in Lokoja.
In ward B, some people, who allegedly dressed in police uniform with red beret, besieged two polling units shot sporadically and carted away the voting materials.
There were reports of sharp practices at a voting unit located at Osuku Primary School in Kotokarfi Local Government Area. There were also reports of sporadic gunshots to scare supporters of the opposition party from coming out to vote.
An INEC officer, Mr. Joseph told journalists that they were arm-twisted “to follow the bidding of the APC,” noting that the officials had to play along to save their lives.”
Former Secretary to the Kogi State Government, Alhaji Musa Ahmadu lamented the involvement of government officials and security agents in carrying and displaying arms in the ongoing Lokoja Kogi federal constituency bye election.
Ahmadu accused the state governor, his chief of staff and other government functionaries of openly carrying arms against the tenets of the electoral law
Ahmadu urged President Muhammadu Buhari to call the security agencies to order, noting that their action and that of the governor might make the integrity of the process a nullity.
Onoja allegedly attacked Ward B Paparanda polling unit in Lokoja ordering the INEC officers to vacate the polling unit. It was gathered that Onoja with some fully armed security men stormed the area at about 8 amas he command his security men to shoot anybody.
However, some electorate resisted him and his security men. Onoja was said to have directed his security aides “to shoot anybody that comes our way. We are going to win the election and there is nothing anybody can do about it.”