10 April 2011

Nigeria: PDP Loses in Sambo, Obasanjo, Bankole, Daniel Polling Units - Also in Suswam, Oyinlola, Omisore, Adeleke Units

Photo: Maggie Fick
Nigerians lined up for National Assembly elections in Jos.

Bloody violent attacks, tight security and average turn out were major characteristics of Saturday's parliamentary poll which took place in designated areas nationwide in a rescheduled exercise that still experienced chaotic beginning in many areas.

The National Assembly election was originally slated for April 2 but was put off mid stream by the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega after election materials failed to reach many voting centres across the country.

About 74 million Nigerians registered to vote in this year's general election where 36 Governors, 109 Senators, 360 House of Representative members and a presidential candidate are expected to emerge.

Results of the polls started trickling in early this morning with some notable big guns in the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) receiving the shocker of the lives.

Early results from polling units indicate that Vice President Namadi Sambo's party lost comfortably in his unit where the candidates of the Congress for Positive Change (CPC) for both the Senate and the House of Representatives carried the day.

For instance, while the CPC's House of Representatives candidate scored 277, those of the PDP, the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) scored 103, 14 and three votes respectively.

Also in the same unit, the CPC senatorial candidate got 265 to defeat his opponent in the PDP who got 115.

Early results from Ogun, Osun and Oyo have also shown that the ACN candidates are set to retire some Federal lawmakers as it emerged last night that the candidates of the PDP in the units of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole, and those contesting in the units of Senator Iyabo Obasabjo-Bello, Senator Iyiola Omisore and Senator Isiaka Adeleke may have also lost in the contest.

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Governor Gbenga Daniel of Ogun, Governor Gabriel Suswam of Benue, former Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola of Osun and former Governor Rasheed Ladoja of Oyo states, all lost in their units to the opposition candidates.

Also in Lagos, the PDP candidate in the ward of the state's governorship candidate, Ade Dosumu lost to his opponents in the ACN.

In Oyo State, the highly rated Accord Party (AP) governorship candidate and the former governor of the State, Ladoja was said to have lost his Ibadan North Local Government Area of the state to the highly favoured ACN.

Similarly, the incumbent Oyo South Senatorial district representative in the upper chamber of the National Assembly, Kamorudeen Adedibu, who is the son of the late strong man of Ibadan politics, Lamidi Adedibu and a member of the ruling Peoples PDP may be on his way out of the senate for the candidate of the ACN, Femi Lanlehin.

At one of the polling booths where Sunday Independent witnessed the vote counting, the ACN candidate polled 125 votes as against the PDP candidate's 46 and the AP's 58.

In Oyo Central senatorial district, where Jumoke Akinjide, the daughter of the former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Richard Akinjide and PDP candidate locks horns with Ayoade Adeseun of the ACN, the result at press time showed that the ACN was leading comfortably in seven Local Government Areas of the 11 councils that make up the senatorial district.

Results from the polling units in former President Obasanjo's ward 11, indicate that the candidate of the PDP lost.

While it emerged that Senator Obasanjo-Bello may have lost her seat to ACN's Gbenga Obadara, Bankole may also be kissing goodbye to the Rep Chambers going by the early result got by his major challenger in the ACN; Segun Williams.

At the African Church Grammar School, Ita Iyalode in Abeokuta where Obasanjo and his daughter, Iyabo cast their ballot for the Senatorial election, the ACN polled 167 votes while the PDP got 64 and the Peoples Party of Nigeria (PPN) five votes.

At the Agbeloba polling unit, which is opposite Obasanjo Holdings head office, the ACN got 191; the PDP 36 and the PPN10.

And at the African Church Primary school where Senator Ibikunle Amosun, the Ogun governorship candidate of the ACN voted, his party scored 259 votes as against the PDP's 40 and the PPN's nine votes in that order.

At Ita Elega also in Abeokuta North, the ACN scored 305 as against the PDP's 110 and the PPN's 97 while at Obafemi Owode Local Government Primary School in Adigbe the ACN got 482, while the the PDP and the PPN got 143 and 123 respectively.

Early result from Abeokuta South where the Senatorial and House of Representatives polls took place, indicates that the ACN was leading for the two seats.

For instance, in Ago-Oba ward 13 where former Governor Olusegun Osoba cast his ballot, the ACN reportedly got 159 for the House of Representatives and 182 for the Senate while the PDP got 38 for the House of Representatives and 40 for the Senate. The PPN scored five for the House of Representatives and nine for the Senate.

At the African Church primary school, Idi-Aba in ward 9, the ACN got 152 for the House of Representatives, the PDP 83, the PPN 12 and the CPC three votes while for the Senate election, the ACN got 177 as against the PDP's 57 and the PPN's 19 votes.

From the Isote Ward in Sagamu where Governor Daniel voted, the ACN was also leading with 121 votes as against the PPN's 118, the PDP's 90 and the Labor Party's 27. In ward 3 of Ifo Local Government Area where only the Senatorial poll took place; the ACN polled 335 votes in the senate with the PDP and the PPN netting 75 each. But for the House of Representatives; the ACN had 326, the PDP 58 and the PPN 65 votes.

The result from the Federal Capital territory in Abuja suggests that from a major polling centre in Jabi Primary School, where 712 voters were accredited, PDP polled 257 for the Reps and 284 for the Senate while Congress for Political Change (CPC) had 161 for the House of Representatives and 154 for the Senate with the Labour Party recording 68 for the House of Representatives and 47 for the Senate.

There were also indications that the ACN is doing very well in Lagos and may have swept most of the votes in the wards and units in the state.

On the eve of Saturday's NASS poll, a bomb went off at the INEC office in Suleja, Niger State, killing 13 persons, mostly National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members and INEC officials who were at the place to check their names for the role they needed to play in Saturday's exercise as election officials.

Several others, in their hundreds, were reportedly injured and were taken to either government or private hospitals in Suleja where NYSC officials went round on Saturday to identify the affected Corp members.

Following the early morning bomb blast at a polling centre in Maiduguri, Borno, in the North Eastern part of the country also on Saturday, security was beefed up in most parts of the nation's border towns while flights were suspended as the authorities became apprehensive over the incessant bomb explosions.

Although an European Union observer said there was "almost no disorder and no intimidation" during the exercise, underscoring the assessment of many others who described the poll as peaceful, the tight security with heavily armed soldiers and policemen guarding polling centres and the border posts suggested anticipation of violence which of course took place in many places nationwide.

"There was almost no disorder and no intimidation," the head of a European Union observer mission, Alojz Peterle, told Reuters on Saturday.

Regardless, in President Goodluck Jonathan's home state, Bayelsa, some measure of violence was recorded.

At Twon-Brass, headquarters of Brass Local Government Council, supporters of LP House of Representatives candidate, Nelson Belief and those of his PDP counterpart, Foingha Jephthah, engaged in a bloody clash resulting in the death of one person.

Belief, who is seeking to return to the House for a second term, was arrested by men of the Joint Task Force (JTF) and handed over to the police who detained him.

At Otuasega community in Ogbia Local Government Area, one Eniye Igbusa, a LP supporter was matcheted on the head after a clash between his party and PDP supporters. Otuasega is close to Jonathan's country home, Otuoke.

Also, at Ekeremor, election materials were said to have been hijacked from INEC supervisors by persons suspected to be working for second-term seeking Senator Heineken Lokpobiri of the PDP.

Electoral Officer (EO) in the area, Idatonye Idamabo, who confirmed the hijack said the supervisors were ambushed on their way to designated polling centres across the council area. INEC said Lokpodiri will be prosecuted.

Idamabo said the incident was quickly reported to the state Resident Electoral Commission (REC), Edwin Nwatarali, who said in a telephone chat that he had appealed to men of the JTF to recover the hijacked materials.

At Oporoma, headquarters of Southern Ijaw Local Government Area, Sunday Independent gathered that ex-militant commander, Eris Paul, (alias Ogunboss), and his boys were also said to have hijacked election materials from INEC officials for some unnamed PDP candidates.

At Odoni and Agbere communities in Sagbama Local Government Area, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Security Matters, Richard Kpodoh also allegedly hijacked election materials to unknown destination while the Senatorial result sheet was also carted away at Adagbabiri community in the same LGA by a group of youths.

At Ekeki ward two, within the state capital, Yenagoa, over 200 voters could not find their names in the voters' register, a situation which prompted them to storm the INEC office where it could not be remedied.

Ekeremor, Sagbama, Southern Ijaw and Kolokuma/Opokuma and Yenagoa Local Government Areas are said to be the strongholds of the LP in the 2011 general elections.

Condemning the violence in Twon-Brass, Governor Timipre Sylva said the development was inimical to democracy and commended the INEC for duly conducting the election despite the shortcomings, adding that the Commission needs all the support it could get to enable it succeed.

About 12 persons including party chieftains were confirmed killed and several others injured in a splinter of bomb blasts and attacks on police formation across Borno State as citizens filed out to cast their ballot.

The state police confirmed to newsmen that the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) chairman, Fannami Ngaranam in Jere Local Government was attacked in his house on Friday night by unknown gunmen who summarily shot and killed him and his son, and made away with his valuables even as they set his house ablaze.

Just as the residents of Maiduguri were still sleeping on the election day, the Maiduguri International Hotel went up in flames which led to the burning of the five floors of the seven-storey building. It was gathered that the hotel had been closed for renovation since last year even though the staff had gone on an indefinite strike for over a year. No one could ascertain the cause of the fire though many believed it may be an act of arson by those that threatened to destabilise the conduct of elections in the state.

At press time, three victims of several attacks in Borno, including the second son of the party chairman and a police woman were confirmed dead.

From Lagos to Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, to other parts of the country, there was tight security controls with many towns and cities looking deserted. Children turned some major roads and streets into football pitches in Lagos, Delta, Imo, Abia, among other areas.

Polling procedures had begun by 8 a.m. according to INEC rules on Saturday with accreditation of voters to halt irregularities just as voting proper started at about noon. But in some places, accreditation did not start on time making voting to be delayed.

The election was reported peaceful in many parts of the country. President Jonathan, governors and other top politicians lauded the outcome and conduct of the exercise despite the setbacks.

While some states like Anambra (despite late accreditation of voters), Bayelsa, Enugu, Lagos, Kano, Rivers, recorded relatively high turn out of voters, the turn out in some states was either average or poor. In Kano, cases of under-aged turning up for voting were reported. Most voters attributed it to either low enthusiasm, insecurity and late start of the exercise due to late arrival of election materials.

Some of the states where low turn out was reported include-Abuja, Abia, Borno, Delta, Kaduna, Niger, Oyo and Imo.

The early morning murder of five persons in a Cherubim and Seraphim Church located at No. 70, Isale Agbara in Ife-East Local Government Area of Osun nearly marred the election in the state.

It was gathered that there was early morning attack on the residence of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) House of Representatives candidate, Rotimi Makinde during which one of the aides and four others were killed in the attack that looked more political.

In Imo, four persons were shot dead Friday night at Nwangele Council when some unidentified gunmen opened fire on them at the country home of the chairman, Ezekiel Chukwukere.

Reports said the gunmen had stormed the house on the assumption that some PDP chieftains were sharing money for Saturday's poll at the house of the Local Government Area's boss. It was not clear if they collected the money.

Though, there were reports of accusations and counter accusations by some political parties over which party carried out the attack, the Umuelem Oke village, the scene of the attack was reported deserted as the natives fled it.

The spokesman of the in the state, Linus Nwaiwu, an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), confirmed it but could not give the exact casualties. However, also in Owerri, the immediate past State Commissioner for Sports, Tony Uzoukwu was crushed to death by a trailer as he was returning from a meeting at about 12 a.m. on Saturday.

It emerged from Delta that the assurance by the Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Police in charge of the election in the South-South geo-political zone, Mohammed Yesuf, of safety of all voters in the zone, and especially in Delta State, during the election could not hold.

Reports from Ogume, Ndokwa West alleged that three persons were shot dead and that while one died on the spot the other two died at the hospital.

Eyewitness said the police escort of a popular politician in the locality who went with his boss to the polling booth allegedly shot them after an argument broke out. But police version of it said it was an accidental discharge during a gun scuffle between the escort and the victims.

Similarly, it was alleged JTF impounded a car loaded with ammunition in the house of a House of Representatives aspirant in Kwale, Ndokwa West LGA. The politician was allegedly distributing guns to his boys when the military personnel invaded the house and shot sporadically to scare the residents who were said to have escaped leaving the car behind.

Unluckily, one of the politician's aide and loyalist, Henry Oloko was said to be arrested with gun inside his car.

In Ughelli town, not less than three people were said to have been shot dead while in Otor-Ogor and Orogun in Ughelli North, two people were shot but cheated dead while another two were arrested as ballot materials were allegedly snatched.

Jega said the Commission was satisfied at the turn out of the voters noting that in other countries, parliamentary elections record less than 60 per cent turnout of registered voters.

Said he: "We have learnt a lot of lessons from the past and have been able to have substantial improvement, though there are still a lot of places where we noticed a lot of delay and in such places, we have granted an hour extension to enable everybody vote.

"There were few places where attempts were made in Delta and Bayelsa States to snatch ballot boxes. In fact, a sitting senator is involved in such an attempt and we are talking with security agencies with a view to prosecuting him."

Sunday Independent however confirmed that the senator being fingered in the ballot box snatch saga is the one representing Bayelsa West.

Jega also denied insinuations that he is supporting any particular political party in the elections just as he boasted that he was "ready to defend all his actions in the build-up to the elections."

He also admitted that the Commission had problems with organising the elections with the late arrival of voting materials in some states, pointing out that they would be rectified in the future elections.

"About seven people were arrested in Nasarawa apart from the one in Bayelsa State. In Zaria, some people were caught with ballot boxes. They went into a house and there was a mob action. They were saved by the military men, but they burnt down the house."

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