Three Suspected Ballot Box Snatchers Killed, as Voter Apathy Mar Election in Delta

*INEC workers, NYSC members scared off polling centres

*Gunmen ambush INEC staff, snatch voting materials in Bomadi 

*Delta REC hints at early release of election results

Omon-Julius Onabu in Asaba

The governorship and state legislative elections were generally peaceful across Delta State with the BVAS machines reportedly working seamlessly at practically all polling centres across the state but there was serious low turnout of voters with a few cases of violence reported.

Two young men were shot dead by military personnel at Mosogar in Ethiope West Local Government Area as they allegedly tried to flee a polling unit with snatched ballot boxes while one of two persons who disrupted the polling exercise at Utagaba-Uno in Ndokwa West Local Government Area was also reportedly killed.

THISDAY also learnt that unidentified persons ambushed and snatched voting materials from INEC officials early on Saturday in Tuomo area in Bomadi Local Government Area.

However, Delta State Governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, was accredited and cast his vote at Polling Unit 17 at Eghoma Primary School, Owa-Alero in Ika North-East Local Government Area of Delta State.

He voted at about 9.50am alongside his wife, Dame Edith and their daughter, who is also the candidate of the PDP for the Delta State House of Assembly in the election.

Okowa, who was impressed with the smooth running of the process and working BVAS machines, appealed to the people to put behind them the disappointment over the failure of INEC in the previous election to keep its promise to upload the BVAS results. 

The governor, who is the vice-presidential candidate of the PDP, said, “I have played my part in shaping the future of our great state. If you have a PVC, you should too!”

Nonetheless, Okowa also commended the security personnel for enduring that the process in the area was hitch-free and hoped that INEC would sustained the smooth proceess and upload the election results with the BVAS machines without delay.

The PDP governorship candidate, Hon Sheriff Oborevwori, was accredited and cast his vote at about at his polling unit in Osubi, Okpe Local Government Area while the APC flag-bearer, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, was accredited about the same and voted at about 11.05am his unit in Orogun, Ughelli North Local Area of the state.

There were conflicting reports of disruption of election process at Evwreni in Ughelli North Local Government Area of Delta State, hometown of the 2015 governorship candidate of the Labour Party and a founding member of the APC, O’tega Emerhor.

While a serving member of the State Executive Council was alleged to have led thugs to attack the polling centre and destroyed voting materials in some of the polling units in the community, another account alleged that  the APC chieftain had masterminded the disruptive attack witnessed in the community on election day.

There was yet no independent confirmation of those behind the violence at polling units in Evwreni community at the time of filing this report even as the security personnel deployed in the community were apparently unable to   stop the distruption or arrest the suspected thugs.

However, some NYSC members serving as INEC adhoc staff and others on election duty reportedly sustained injuries while at least three BVAS machines were also reportedly smashed.

Consequently, INEC recorded an unusual shortage of manpower in several.places, including parts of Ethiope East and Amai in Ukwani where voting could not take place at all in at least 16 units as the people refused participate because only about five INEC officials had arrived with voting materials just one or two units.

In a swift reaction to the incident, the Delta State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Monday Udoh, berated the people for “taking the law into their hands” and preventing the few INEC officials from conducting any voting in the community.

He admitted that INEC in the state has been hit by shortage of manpower.

Udoh, who lamented the voter apathy that characterized the entire eketoral process on Saturday, noted that the people ought to cooperate with the INEC personal that came since the Electoral Act 2022 had provided for continuation of voting the following day where voting could not take place due to inability of INEC to conduct election as scheduled.

Nevertheless, the Delta REC commended the relatively peaceful nature of the election and hinted at early collation and declaration of the governorship and state House of assembly results owing to the fact that there was very low turnout of voters, so that the electoral officers would have relatively less used ballots to compute the results.

THISDAY learnt that the drop in the number of INEC adhoc staff may not be unconnected with the harassment some of them, especially NYSC members, were subjected during the presidential and House of Assembly election on 25th February. 

Many corps-members simply opted out of the election duty due to threat of violence, beside the reported delay in the payment of their special duty allowance, alongside policemen deployed to INEC for the general election.

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