16 January 2016

Nigeria: Niger Council Poll Peaceful but Mar By Low Turn-Out of Voters

The Saturday local government council election for chairmen and councilors in all the 25 local government councils in Niger state was generally peaceful but not without pockets of violence basically due to insufficient electoral materials by the Niger State Independent Electoral Commission (NSIEC).

While there were well pronounced turn-out of voters for the election which has so far claimed a life and scores of others injured in Bida, others such as farmers and artisans went about their day's businesses claiming that, 'the government cannot feed us'.

Accreditation started well as early as 8am in most places but soon became rowdy in some areas when voters discovered particularly that ballot papers provided by NSIEC is not in commensuration with the number of registered voters in the affected polling units.

Again, notwithstanding that the election had been due for November, 2015 but was postponed by the state government, election did not take place in Suleja, one of the commercial nerve centres of Niger state due to 'logistics' problems which the NSIEC had said is beyond their explains.

Combined team of police and the military saved electoral officials on duty from mob attack as voters discovered that ballot papers in virtually all the polling units in Gwada, Shiroro local government area and demanded explanations from the electoral officials or face the wrath of the people.

Some of the electorates who spoke to journalists on why the elections could not continue in Gwada, Shiroro local government argued that the electoral officers came with only 200 ballot papers for the chairmen and councilor election against the 487 registered voters in the area, a claim that was also confirmed by the Presiding Officer, Ayuba Habila.

Though the election within Minna the state capital was generally without hitches, the situation in Paiko in Paikoro local government council and Beji was not same as the common complaint that almost marred the entire exercise has been that of inadequate ballot papers to serve all registered voters.

There were conflicting reports on weather or not election took place in Bida which recorded a bloody crash between supporters of the two rival political parties; All Progressive Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over election related matters which led to the loss of a life.

While one of Governor Sani Bello's Media Aide, Mr. Jide Orintunsin claimed election in the area was peaceful, some residents of Bida in a telephone interview said on the contrary there was no election as everybody was going about their normal businesses and they only noticed increased number of security personnel at strategic points along major streets.


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