Sunday, 24 February 2019

Violence, Burning of Ballot Papers Mar Electioneering Process in Lagos, Rivers others-Reports




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Days after the 2019 election took place in all voting centres across the country, reports trooping in from bloggers across the country coming from the Guild of professional blogger’s situation room, urban express news online gathered there were reports on violence, burning of ballots papers during the electioneering process in some states within the federation.
In Lagos yesterday, for instance, it was revealed that hoodlums invaded three polling booths at Ago Palace way in Lagos and successfully burnt all the ballot papers.


A blogger, who sent in the reports, also conducted an interview where an eyewitness who name could not be ascertained said they started voting around 10.00a.m. Some members of Oodua People’s Congress (OPC) came to intimidate voters, telling us we should vote APC or die and that anybody that refused to vote APC should go back to Nnewi or East, and wherever they came from.
His word: “I told them they could not be more political than the President, who made it clear that everybody should come out and vote for any candidate of their choice.
“They threatened to kill. Some police officers later came and made some arrests. However, after a while, as the voting was going on, they went and re-grouped. I told the DPO in charge of the area that the people had returned, and she promised to contact the Rapid Response Squad.
“Before I could call her again, one man came and made a sign and before we knew what was happening, his boys appeared, got the entire ballot boxes and set them on fire. They crossed to the other side of the road, where two polling booths were located and did the same thing.
“People were angry and started pursuing them. One of them was caught and his motorcycle was burnt.“We are not happy. We are disappointed. We are, therefore, calling on INEC to cancel these elections.“We must vote and our votes must be counted.”
In rivers also, report churning in from guild’s situation room also indicate election was hallmarked by violence, failure of smartcard readers and the late arrival of materials at many polling units across in the state.
Late commencement of accreditation/voting, inadequate materials in some areas, as well as deserting of polling booths by ad hoc staff also added to the organizational blunders recorded by INEC.
Rivers State which was adjudged by many observers as one of the flashpoints lived up to expectation as at least eight persons, including a soldier, were feared killed in the violence that engulfed parts of the state during the presidential and National Assembly (NASS) elections.
The Guild of Professional Bloggers Situation Room also reveals that there are some parts of the rivers state with reported cases of incidents of sporadic gunshots, snatching of election materials and general voter apathy. 
It also reveals that unknown gunmen invaded the residence of an All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain, Mowan Etete, in Asarama, Andoni Council Area, killing him and his cousin.
Etete a former Andoni Local Council chairman was appointed a special adviser to the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike in 2017, but he defected to the APC last year. Another ex-official of the State Executive Committee of the APC, identified as Ignatius, was also shot dead in Ajakaja, Andoni.
The balance of the fatalities, including a soldier, were recorded in Abonnema, the Headquarters of Akuku-Toru Local Council. As early as 7am, scores of political thugs, armed with lethal weapons, including guns and machetes reportedly stormed a Registration Area Centre (RAC) located in Abonnema Girls Secondary School, Abonnema, where INEC ad hoc staff, party agents and observers were waiting for the commencement of distribution of election materials. 
An eyewitness who gave account to a blogger said that the hoodlums macheted members of an opposition political party and shot one person dead. As news of the incident filtered into the community, members of the PDP were quickly mobilized for a possible reprisal attack, but before they arrived the scene, some military men deployed to Abonnema had moved into the area and started shooting sporadically.
The intense shooting forced people to scamper for their safety and made it impossible for the distribution of election materials and for voting to take place. Similarly, in Bonny, sporadic gunshots rented the air for hours, making it impossible for election materials to be distributed until about 2pm.
At least four National Youth Service Corps members were hospitalized after gunmen invaded units 2, 4 and 9 of ward 8 in Ubima, in Ikwere Local Council where they were posted as ad-hoc staff.
 It was also revealed that Over 20 gunmen, who were armed with other dangerous weapons invaded the units shooting sporadically and carted away ballot boxes, looted and robbed INEC officers and voters.
Two corps members posted to Bonny Local Council were also hospitalized as a result of the fracas that broke out following arguments between party agents. Soldiers also raided the home of an All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain in Okrika in search of missing electoral materials meant for four major wards.
Some Bloggers on the ground also gathered that all election materials for Ward 6, 7, 8 and 9 were diverted before the materials got to the Okrika Local Council Secretariat about 3am Saturday.
 Similarly, another eyewitness this time, on a broadcast station channel’s television “the verdict” had the vice chairman of Okrika local government coming on air to explain that there was a pocket of crises going on within some location saying if such situation persists, many eligible voters would be disenfranchised.

 in Bayelsa,  it was malfunctioning of card readers that characterized the presidential and NASS polls. The state Governor, Henry Seriake Dickson, who spoke after casting his vote monitored by urban express news online through Channel’s broadcast television, said at least one person was confirmed dead during the exercise.

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