*Politicians using violence to win elections are armed robbers, conmen, says Jonathan
Chiemelie Ezeobi, Rebecca Ejifoma, Sunday Ehigiator in Lagos and Adibe Emenyonu in Benin City
Despite the assurances from the Nigeria Police Force and the military, pockets of violence rocked some parts of Lagos, Imo, Bayelsa, Edo, Kogi, and other states in yesterday’s elections.
This is coming as former President Goodluck Jonathan has warned politicians against using violent methods to win elections, saying it would portray them as armed robbers and con artists.
In Lagos, areas such as Mafoluku, Amuwo Odofin, Oshodi, Surulere, Ijaiye, Ijaniki, LASU Iba, Iyana Shashi, Ikorodu, Fadeyi, Ojota, Ogombo, Badagry, Sangotedo, and Lekki witnessed violence.
At Ijaiye, four polling units were affected Branco (two), Agboola (one), and Obisanya (one).
The polling units affected in Surulere include Adedeji, Owoseni, Dipo Olubi, Itire, and Aguda.
THISDAY gathered that voting was disrupted in polling units around Surulere, Ikate, and Ajah after thugs attacked the area and warned the voters who were not willing to vote for the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu to vacate the polling units while policemen looked away.
In Ikate, a popular Nigerian Rapper, Falz, had his phone snatched from him by thugs in the presence of police officers, while the thugs also scattered the ballot boxes and dumped them in the gutter.
At Ogombo Primary School, in the Lekki area of the state, thugs chased away voters and locked the gates while police officers stood still, smiling at them.
The situation was not different at Ojota Senior Secondary School.
In most cases, it took the intervention of the military personnel, who were also overstretched, to restore peace and orderliness in some of the affected polling units.
Hours before the elections kicked off, some residents at Ago Palace Way, Okota, discovered thousands of Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) abandoned in a popular hotel.
Most of the owners, who found their PVCs when it was already late, lamented that they had visited the INEC office at Oshodi Isolo LGA on several occasions but did not find it, only to end up being disenfranchised.
Police Confirm Violence, Say Many Suspects Arrested
However, the Commissioner of Police, Lagos State, Idowu Owohunwa, who flew over Lagos with a helicopter, confirmed the pockets of violence while adding that several suspects were arrested over election-related offences and exhibits recovered from them.
He said he visited Maryland, Mafoluku in Oshodi, and Surulere, where armed thugs disrupted voting exercises and snatched and burnt ballot boxes.
According to CP Idowu, the exercise was very peaceful and organised in the Epe axis, adding that “we visited about five polling units in Epe, and there was this family way of approaching the process.
“I interacted with them, and they insisted that Epe was calm. They are a peaceful family, so regardless of the political divide, they remain one family and work to ensure peace.
“What we are dealing with here has to do with human conduct. It could be unpredictable or driven by passion, emotion, or criminal intent. We recorded specific instances of thuggery and violence.
“These things will always happen, and when they do, we will implement a response plan to be able to respond to most of those incidents. We have made arrests and recoveries,” he said.
One Killed in Kogi By Thugs
In Kogi State, a young man identified as Akayama was gunned down at Anyigba, in Dekina Local Government Area of the state, by thugs who invaded the town to cart away electoral materials
The thugs took over the town, shooting sporadically and carting away electoral materials from different polling units.
The deceased, who the locals claimed to be a graduate of Economics from the Prince Abubakar Audu University, Anyigba, was shot dead at a polling unit in Iji-Anyigba. Thugs chased away voters from polling units at Dekina, Agbeji, Ajiolo, Abejukolo, and Ejule communities.
In Akwa Ibom State, hoodlums suspected to be political party supporters inflicted machete cuts on two voters before carting away with one Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) for polling units 11 and 12 at Oniong West Ward one in Onna Local Government Area of the state.
Thugs also attacked two different polling areas in Katsina and Delta states, stealing at least eight BVAS machines, according to the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu.
According to Yakubu, bandits attacked INEC personnel, stealing six BVAS machines in Safana Local Government Area of Katsina State.
A separate attack occurred in the Oshimili area of Delta State leading to the loss of two BVAS machines, Yakubu said while briefing journalists in Abuja.
In Shiroro LGA of Niger State, he said voting commenced late due to an earlier bandit attack, which he said, was not necessarily on INEC officials.
In Ogun State, gunmen invaded a polling unit in Ayegbami, in the Ikenne Local Government Area of Ogun State, destroyed a ballot box, and disrupted the electoral process in the area.
THISDAY, gathered that Ayegbami is a street in Iperu, Ikenne LGA, the hometown of the state governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun.
Elections Postponed in Bayelsa, Edo
Meanwhile, INEC has postponed elections in some parts of Bayelsa and Edo states.
INEC Chairman, Yakubu, disclosed this when he addressed a press conference in Abuja.
He said the election was postponed in four wards with 141 Polling Units in Bayelsa, adding that voting will continue today (Sunday).
In Yenagoa, the state capital, Yakubu said voting was disrupted, and the commission mobilised security officials to escort the ad hoc staff to continue voting.
According to him, the NYSC ad hoc staff were scared to go back, prompting the commission to postpone voting in the areas.
In Edo State, the Federal Constituency election in Esan North, Esan South, and Igueben was postponed due to the omission of a political party’s logo on the ballot. He did not state the name of the political party.
The presidential and National Assembly elections suffered a huge setback within the Benin metropolis as people suspected to be political thugs invaded voting centres and disrupted the process
Earlier in the day at Oredo Local Government Area Ward 4, the thugs stormed the voting unit 42, shooting into the air and taking away the ballot boxes at the unit.
Thugs also distorted electoral activities at the Kayarda Primary School polling Centre of Kuje Area Council, Abuja.
During the attack at about 4:15 pm, the thugs numbering nine, wielded sticks, broke ballot boxes, and tore ballot papers.
In Rivers State, there were protests in most of the polling units in Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor following the difficulties in uploading the results as registered in the BIVAS machines.
Voters stopped the INEC ad-hoc staff from going, insisting that the machine must upload the results before they would be allowed to leave the premises.
Following the development, a convoy of military personnel who were contacted stormed the area, stopped the protesting voters, and escorted the INEC staff to their collation centres.
Politicians Using Violence to Win Elections are Armed Robbers, Conmen, Says Jonathan
In a related development, former President Jonathan has warned politicians against using violent methods to win elections, saying it would portray them as armed robbers and conmen
Jonathan gave this warning yesterday in Bayelsa when he spoke to journalists after casting his ballot papers in the presidential and National Assembly elections.
He said: “My wish for Nigeria is for us to conduct peaceful elections. And for us who are politicians, our conduct matters a lot. I always tell politicians not to use unorthodox means like using violence to win elections. You behave like an armed robber or con man when you do that.
“An armed robber makes money through robberies, but everybody knows he is an armed robber. A conman makes money by deceiving people. But everyone knows that they are not decent members of society. A politician should conduct his affairs fairly and visibly so that his supporters and others will know that he is clean.
“The whole world is looking at us. Very many senior global citizens are in Nigeria today because of this election. They want us to succeed. And we must not fail.”
The former president made it plain that no politician would be in office forever, and therefore there is no reason to view electoral victories as a do-or-die battle.
“I made a statement three days ago when the parties and their presidential candidates signed commitments to peaceful elections. I would have been there personally, but for my commitment in Bamako, Mali, where I was a bit trapped. But my speech was read by Bishop Kukah, and all of us advised that the election must be peaceful.
“Politicians should know that they do not own this country. And nobody’s political ambition is worth the blood of any Nigerian; not at all. People should not begin to think, ‘I have money, and I am contesting for Senate or governor or president, and people must die because they are contesting.’ We must imbibe this.
“After all, I was a deputy governor and governor in Bayelsa State and later vice president and president. That is eight years in Bayelsa and eight years in Abuja. But now I am back in Bayelsa as an ordinary citizen. One day you (politicians) will leave that office,” Jonathan said.
He, however, commended the introduction of the BVAS but chided the INEC for the late distribution of electoral materials to polling units.