Massive turnout, minor logistic challenges, and widespread violence characterised Saturday's presidential and National Assembly elections in the country held amid tension and apprehension. Accreditation and voting commenced as early as 8am in many locations, while in some places, they did not start till early afternoon. But the process was generally commended by many of the political actors and voters.
Reports of late arrival of voting materials in any centres were also rife, causing delays and unease among voters in some of the affected areas.
In response to the reports about delayed commencement of voting, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared that the election at polling units where the voting process did not start as scheduled would be extended by the amount of time lost. INEC National Commissioner in charge of Voter Education and Publicity, Mr. Festus Okoye, made this known while giving an update on the election, the challenges encountered and the solutions put in place by the commission.
Okoye stated, "As most of you are aware, we did promised the Nigerian people that most of the polling units will open by 8am. Based on that, it is at 12 noon we decided that it was important for us to give an update of where we are, the progress we have made, the problems we have encountered, the challenges we are resolving and some of the solutions we have provided in relation to some of these challenges."
He explained that in relation to the opening of polls, some of the states had as at noon recorded 100 per cent opening of polls, while some recorded over 90 per cent.
The breakdown of the opening of polls as at noon, as provided by the Election Management Support Centre (EMSC), set up by INEC, showed that Osun, Ondo, Kastina, Kebbi, Ekiti states recorded 100 per cent opening of polls. Kwara, Kogi, Anambra, Niger, Edo, Benue, and Cross River states recorded over 90 per cent poll opening, while Ogun and FCT recorded more than 70 per cent.
Yobe, Taraba, Lagos, Jigawa, Enugu, and Akwa Ibom recorded more than 60 per cent opening of polls; while Oyo, Sokoto, Adamawa, Borno, Delta, recorded more than 30 per cent; and Nassarawa and Kaduna recorded more than 50 per cent opening of polls.
Okoye said there was no report of opening of polls from Rivers State, while Kano recorded 0.18 opening of polls as at noon.
But the commission blamed the late opening of the polls in some states to the late arrival of the members of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) and security issues, among others, which Okoye said were being addressed at the time.
Okoye said in a few places where malfunctioning of the smart card readers was recorded, the commission directed the Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) and electoral officers to replace all the faulty smart card readers.
He stated, "In other places where there are a few challenges in relation to Smart Card Readers verifying or authenticating, all the members of the technical support staff that have been posted to registration areas are already on ground and are addressing some of these issues, and we are confident that as we progress, before the close of polls, most of these issues would have been identified and rectified.
"We also received reports in a few states of the inability of some voters to get to their polling units on account of security issues. The INEC chairman is in touch with heads of all the security agencies that are providing support in relation to this election and in all the places where people have experienced challenges; he has personally called the heads of these agencies and some of these issues have been addressed."
Okoye said as the election progressed, most of the issues that could arise would be addressed. "What the commission has decided is that in any of the states, where polls opened at 9am, there will be an extension of one hour. In any place where polls open at 10am, there will be an extension of two hours and it progresses that way," he said.
He also said a few states that had issues with result sheets, which had been resolved.
Buhari: I'll Congratulate Myself Because I'll Win
President Muhammadu Buhari, in company with his wife, Aisha, voted at his Polling Unit 003 Kofar Barau III Gidan Niyam, in Daura Local Government Area of Katsina State. Buhari, who was listed as Voter No. 187, carrying the Voter Identification Number 90F5B 02C90 29569 4732, arrived the Polling Unit located along Waziri Road, Tone Quarters, Sarkin Yaura A, in the vicinity of the palace of the Emir of Daura about 8am. He was duly accredited and within 10 minutes, completed the voting procedure.
The president told journalists that he was happy that Nigerians decided to exercise their franchise and the process was going on well.
However, responding to a question on whether he would congratulate the winner if he lost, the president said, "I will congratulate myself, because I expect to win this election."
He waived at the reporters and departed immediately for his house.
Other members of the president's household also listed at the same polling unit included his wife, Aisha as voter 182. Hadiza, Safina and Ibrahim were numbered 183, 189 and 184, respectively.
I Look Forward to a Peaceful Transition, Says Atiku
But the presidential candidate of PDP, Atiku Abubakar, said after voting that he looked forward to a peaceful transition, apparently insinuating his possible defeat of Buhari. He, however promised, to accept the outcome of the election if transparent, free and fair. Also in company with his wife, Titi, the former vice president, who voted at Ajiya 012 polling unit in Yola, the Adamawa State capital, said as a democrat he would accept the outcome of the election.
Atiku said he was impressed with the massive turnout of voters and the peaceful manner the people conducted themselves, even as he appealed to the security and INEC officials to be transparent and fair to all so that the mandate of the people would not be tempted with.
Saraki, Mohammed, Others Commend Voter Turnout
At his Ode-Opobiyi polling unit 005/006, Ajikobi ward in Ilorin West local government council, Senate President Bukola Saraki voted at 10.20am together with his wife, Toyin; mother, Florence; and son, Seeni. He expressed satisfaction with the massive turnout of voters.
He commended the peaceful atmosphere witnessed during the exercise and urged residents to maintain the peace, while enjoining them to remain patient to enable them to vote within the stipulated time frame.
The senate president, however, decried the late arrival of voting materials in some polling units within the Ilorin metropolis. He called on INEC to redress such anomalies in subsequent elections.
In Kwara State also, Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, described the 2019 elections as historic. He said this in Oro, Irepodun Local Government Area, shortly after voting.
"It has been largely peaceful here. The observation raised here is that there was a certain polling unit in Oro ward 2 where the card readers are not functioning," said Mohammed, who cast his vote at polling unit 006 Oro ward 2 around 11:30am.
The PDP governorship candidate in the state, Hon. Razak Atunwa, voted at his Efue/Berikodo 002 polling unit in Asa local government council of the state and lauded the turnout of voters. He said the development showed the commitment of Nigerians to vote for a new government that would add value to their wellbeing.
The turnout was also commended by the governorship candidate of the APC in the state, Abdulrahaman Abdulrasaq. Abdulrasaq, who voted at Idi-Igba polling unit in his Adewole ward, noted that the card readers were not functioning properly in some areas. But he urged the electorate to exercise patience and remain on queue to be able to vote when the hiccups were resolved.
The PDP senatorial candidate for Kwara North Senatorial District in the polls in Baruten local government council, Hon. Zakari Muhammed expressed satisfaction with the conduct of the election.
Obasanjo Charges Losers to Accept Defeat
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo charged losers in both the presidential and National Assembly elections to accept defeat, in the interest of good democracy.
"In any competition, there will always be winners and losers. What anybody in any competition must be prepared for, as a good sportsman, is that he or she that wins should show magnanimity.
"For instance, if I lose, I will also bow down graciously. That is what any competition is all about. If your purpose of going to competition is that you must win at all cost, then, that is no longer a competition. I know, INEC will make amends for the shortcomings ahead of the next election," Obasanjo said.
Obasanjo who arrived at Ward 11, Unit 22, Olusomi Compound, Totoro Road, Sokori, Abeokuta North Local Government Area, in a black Lexus Jeep marked AAD 24 TF (Ogun), at 11:10am and cast his votes at 11:15am, complained about the delay in getting the election materials.
Obi Complains About Harassment by Security Operatives
The vice presidential candidate of the PDP, Mr. Peter Obi, and his wife, Margaret, voted at 8:55am at his Amatutu Village polling Unit, Agulu ward 2, in Anaocha Local Government Area of Anambra State.
Speaking to journalists after casting his ballot, Obi said it was too early to confirm that the process was going smoothly. But he promised to confirm so later in the day after reaching out to voters in other parts of the country.
He, however, said security agents the previous night went after some known PDP stalwarts in the state, adding that he was also harassed by security agents but refused to elaborate.
"The answer to your question is capital yes. Most of our members, including myself, were harassed by security agents last night... I cannot speak further than this, but you just heard me say yes. The answer to that question is yes, I was also harassed," the former governor stated.
Police Arrest Journalists in Anambra
Meanwhile, five journalists from major national dailies were arrested by a team of fully armed police officers close to the home of Mr. Peter Obi. The officers, who came in five unmarked police vans, fully loaded and arms, had trailed the journalists from the home of the vice presidential candidate where they went to cover him during the voting.
The police officers, who refused to identify themselves, simply blocked the vehicle used by the journalists and ordered them out and collected the key to their vehicle. They later left the journalists but drove off with the vehicle keys, leaving the reporters stranded.
The journalists, Mr Nwanosike Onu of The Nation, Geoffrey Anyanwu of Sun, David-Chyddy Eleke of THISDAY, Vincent Ujumadu of Vanguard, and Tony Okafor of Punch, were never given the opportunity to even introduce themselves, despite wearing the INEC apron provided for journalists.
One of the officers told the journalists that they were on instruction, and would not listen to anyone, not even journalists on duty.
Uba Experiences Difficulty Voting
Earlier in another part of Anambra, Chief Chris Uba, candidate of the PDP for Anambra South senatorial district, could not vote due to the malfunctioning card reader at his Polling Unit 015 in OtiOgbata Ward. All eyes were on this ward where the Uba brothers, Andy and Chris, slugged it out on the platforms of different political parties. Andy Ubah is the APC candidate.
When Chris Ubah arrived at his polling unit a few minutes past noon, he was surprised at the massive turnout. However, many who had arrived as early as 8am could not cast their votes because the card reader malfunctioned.
He told reporters, "You can see the turnout is very impressive but I was shocked that the card reader is not working. I didn't cast my vote. My wife couldn't cast her vote. I don't know when we will vote. I want it to be on record that we didn't cast our votes. We are waiting.
"You can see the crowd here. Nobody can cast their vote. INEC said we can't use incident forms. So, you can't do anything manual. Everything must be electronic and must allow people to vote the candidate of their choice. This is democracy. It must work like that."
Ubah, who expressed hope in the process, insisted that the votes must count.
"When my own has this type of problem, what is happening elsewhere? INEC can't tell me that after postponing election by one week they can't get their card reader right? How can these people feel happy going home without casting their votes? Nigeria must give me opportunity to cast my vote," he said.
Ambode Happy with Polling Process
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, voted at his home town in Epe, accompanied by his wife. Ambode voted at 10:01am at ward A5, polling unit 033, Ogunmodede College, Ajaganabe Area, Papa Epe.
Speaking to journalists after casting his ballot, the governor commended the peaceful process and asked the people to come out and exercise their franchise.
He said, "I have just performed my civic right; I have voted successfully in my polling unit and from the information I already have across the state, I can observe that the election is going on peacefully across the state.
"I am delighted that Lagosians have been very cooperative. We have had a peaceful night and ever since the morning also, everywhere has been very peaceful."
Fintiri, Jibrilla Affirm Election Peaceful
Governorship candidate of PDP in Adamawa State, Hon. Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri, voted at Kirchinga 004 polling units in Madagali Local Government Area, where Boko Haram insurgents invaded recently. But he affirmed that the election was peaceful.
Adamawa State Governor and candidate of the APC, Bindow Jibrilla, who cast his vote at 10:15am at Abu Muwachi of Kolore ward of Mubi North Local Government Area, also expressed satisfaction with the massive turnout of voters.
Oshiomhole, Obaseki Optimistic APC Will Win
In Edo, speaking with journalists after casting his vote about 11.44am, APC National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, commended the process and expressed optimism that APC would win with a big margin.
Oshiomhole said, "I have been voting here for a very long time, but the crowd that came out today is very unprecedented and at the same time orderly and peaceful. It is a sign that APC will win landslide".
In Benin City, the capital of Edo State, Governor Godwin Obaseki arrived at his polling unit, Emokpae Primary School ward, at 9:55am to cast his vote.
His presence drew the attention of other voters who abandoned their queues to catch a glimpse of him on his queue, where he joined other electorate.
Speaking to journalists after voting, the governor said, "This is my voting unit and it is quite orderly for the 20 minutes or so I have been here. It has been quite orderly. I am quite impressed with the presence of the security personnel at the polling unit. As I was just driving in here, I saw a lot of security personnel here."
Shettima, Others Vote amid Attack Scare
In Maiduguri, determined voters trooped out in large numbers, despite the early morning attacks on the town by suspected Boko Haram members. The people of the town had been woken up about 5:40am by large explosions, gunshots and sound of warplanes hovering over the area. The explosions were on for about an hour as the military were believed to have engaged the insurgents, who tried to attack the town.
Investigation by our correspondent revealed that 16 heavy artilleries were shot in the crossfire.
The insurgents were believed to have shot the missiles from there enclave in Sambisa Forest into the town, with two landing at the Teachers' Village IDP's camp, one at the Garrison command and another at the runway of the airport.
The insurgents, who had earlier attacked Zabalmari, about 15 kilometres from Maiduguri, on the election eve, tried to enter main Maiduguri on Saturday but were repelled by soldiers.
During the Friday attack, the insurgents, who came in about four motorcycles and two trucks, told the people of the area that they did not want them to participate in the election.
The army and the police were quick to douse the tension by giving out information that it was friendly fire and a show of strength.
But when our correspondent went out to monitor the election, a large crowd of people were seen voting, though the town was heavily militarised.
Some of the voters who spoke to our correspondent said they came out about 9am to cast their votes after they heard that the town was not under attack and that it was just the military test running their ammunitions. They also disclosed that the officers of INEC were late to the polling units as they started coming out from about 8am.
Governor Kashim Shettima, who cast his vote at the densely populated Lamisula area, said he was impressed with the whole exercise. He said the people showed their will to vote against the evil machination of the Boko Haram, who had wanted to disturb the entire process with the early morning attack.
Shettima, who spoke to journalist after voting, said his people defied the insurgents' threat and participated massively in the election.
He said, "I call on people to come out and vote despite the early morning scare. We must defy the Boko Haram insurgents' threat and show them that they are defeated. They attempted to scare, make people afraid so as to prevent them from exercising their franchise, but we are resolute and triumphed over them.
"You should come out and vote candidates of your choice, even if you are not going to vote for me and President Muhammadu Buhari."
Okorocha, Izunazo Vow to Deliver Their Areas
From the South-east, Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha expressed confidence that President Muhammadu Buhari would win in the state. Okorocha voted at 10.35am at his Ogboko ward in Ideato South local government of the state.
His counterpart in APGA, Senator Osita Izunaso, who voted at his Obeakpu ward in Orlu East LGA expressed satisfaction with the turnout of voters in his area and was confident, too, of winning the senatorial seat for the zone.
However, in other locations, voting was delayed. At Isiekenesi Central School 4, Ideato South the delay was in connection with the insistence of members of APGA that the ballot papers were short by 300.
About 9am, electoral officers, polling agents and law enforcement agents had gathered at the Town School Ibeku in Aboh Mbaise Local Government Area, collecting materials for onward movement to their various polling booths in Ngurunweke, Ngurunwenko, Lagwa and Ibeku.
Those of Enyiogwugwu and Ahiato were believed to be doing same in Mbutu, while those in Uvuru collected their materials within the period.
Ayade Says Election Peaceful
Cross River State Governor, Professor Ben Ayade, expressed satisfaction with the conduct of yesterday's elections, describing the exercise and turnout as both peaceful and massive. Ayade accompanied by his wife, Lynda, arrived Kakum Town Hall, Ipong polling unit, Obudu with registration area code CR/09 about 11:05am. They were accredited and later voted.
Speaking shortly after voting, Ayade said, "I am here in my own polling unit and I am happy that we have a very peaceful and massive turnout here in my ward and indeed my polling unit.
"I am also very happy with the conduct, certification and quality of training that the INEC officials and ad hoc staff have received."
Mark Proud of the Peaceful Process
Former Senate President, Senator David Mark, expressed delight with the peaceful conduct of yesterday's presidential and National Assembly elections. Mark, who spoke after voting at his Otukpo country home in Benue State, emphasised that peaceful conduct of election was possible in Nigeria if politicians and relevant authorities complied with the rules of the game.
According to him, "The peaceful exercise so far in the state is reassuring that elections can be conducted orderly in Nigeria. I expect that this peaceful trend that is characteristic of my ward and home is replicated in every part of the country. For me, election should be a game that must produce a winner or loser. We do not need to lose our heads because of election".
Akpoti Complains Over 2015 Materials
In Kogi State, candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) for the Kogi Central senatorial district, Natasha Akpoti, expressed concern over her observation concerning the use of 2015 electoral paper in some polling units in Ihima, Kogi Central. Akpoti, who spoke to journalists shortly after casting her vote at her Kuroko ward 022, said she got the report with dismay that INEC was issuing 2015 ballot papers to voters in Oboroke polling unit.
She said she had already notified INEC to register her protest. But she expressed cautious satisfaction with peaceful conduct so far at the election.
On his part, Senator Mohammed Ohiare expressed satisfaction with the peace observed at the election, which he said showed the degree of understanding and readiness by the people to express their political desire.
He said, "You have been round Kogi Central and have seen for yourselves. In my area here in Karaworo ward, the atmosphere has been peaceful; no incident of violence anywhere and that is commendable."
Again, Rivers Boils as Four Die
There were disturbing reports of violence from Rivers State. no fewer than four people were said to have died at the time of filing this report.
The APC has alleged that one of its chieftains and former Chairman of Andoni Local Government Area of the state, Chief Mowan Etete, was killed alongside his elder brother and also his cousin in Asarama.
In a statement issued by its Publicity Secretary, Chris Finebone, the party also said one of its ex-officio members of the State Executive Committee, Ignatius, was shot dead at Ajakaja, also in Andoni by suspected political thugs.
But the police have yet to confirm any of the deaths.
However, heavy gunfire was reported in Abonema, headquarters of Akuku Toru Local Government Area of the state. THISDAY gathered that many voters were scared away from the polling stations.
Consequently, INEC suspended voting in Bonny and Akuku Toru council areas pending the return of normalcy to the area.
Lagos Wallows in Ethnic Violence
Serious violence was reported in some parts of Lagos State, particularly in areas believed to be heavily populated by the Igbo, like the Ago Palace Way, Okota, over alleged plans to prevent the Igbo from voting for fear of preference for the opposition. Violence in some of these areas, including one that happened at Unit 17 on Frederick Fasheun Street, were however covered in short video recordings, which have since gone viral. They alleged connivance between APC thugs and some members of the Oodua Peoples' Congress (APC), while INEC officials and security operatives watched almost helplessly.
Thugs reportedly stormed many of the polling units in the identified areas, distorting the voting process and in some cases burning already thumb-printed ballot papers.
Citing a personal experience on his Facebook page, Earl Okezie, wrote: "Just returned home after surviving attacks from APC thugs, who went from polling unit to polling unit with a huge concentration of Igbo voters in Ago, Okota area, disrupting voting proceedings and scattering polling units.
"They hit me to the ground as they tried to snatch my phone querying why I should video what was going on. When they couldn't, one of them who I suppose knows me insisted I must delete the videos. Meanwhile, others kept hitting and cursing me. Many were disenfranchised and many injured as they ran for safety.
"From Nwachukwu drive, to Balogun, Jemtok, Sijuola, Street to areas around Ago last Bus Stop, Ali Dada, etc all in Ago Palace Way/Okota area were held hostage by APC thugs because they had directives not to allow Igbos vote.
"Unfortunately, INEC officials and security agents stood by helpless. What could they have done anyway? It's a pity."
El-Rufai, Sambo, Sani, Applaud Election Process
Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, commended Kaduna people for the massive turnout for the presidential and National Assembly elections. El-Rufai, who voted about 1:20pm after waiting on the queue for over four hours, before casting his vote at his Angwan Sarki polling unit, also commended the people for their patience in spite of the late commencement of voting materials.
He said so far, the election had been peaceful as there were no cases of violence and called on INEC to address the challenges being faced in the next elections.
Similarly, former Vice President Namadi Sambo and his wife Amina, who voted at the Swimming Pool Road, Police College, Kaduna, commended the high voter turnout and the peaceful conduct of the elections so far.
"I am pleased with the turnout of people to vote, and I am also happy with the orderliness of the process. I pray we have peaceful exercise," Sambo said.
Likewise, Senator Shehu Sani, who spoke with journalists after voting at his Angwan Sarki, unit 021, Kaduna North Local Government Area, said he was not happy that the process was delayed for hours. He, however, said, "The process so far went on relatively well as there are no reported cases of violence so far and we are grateful. It has stated well but it is too early to start commending INEC."
Although there was massive turnout of voters, there was late arrival of voting materials at most polling units within Kaduna metropolis.
In places like Sabon Tasha, Barnawa, Narayi High Cost, Kawo area, Romi, Tudun Wada, among others, voting either started by 11:00am or 1:00pm.
Orji, Emenike Flay INEC over Process in Abia
INEC received knocks in Abia State over the late commencement of voting in the state. Senator Theodore Orji, who is seeking re-election in Abia Central senatorial district, expressed disappointment over the sloppy electoral process in Abia.
"I'm not happy with what is happening here. INEC, after causing high pretension for us last week following the botched election has shown that it was still not prepared for the election," he said.
The former governor of the state was only able to cast his vote at 1.30pm on his return to his polling unit at Ugba Primary School, Umuahia, having first gone there by noon without voting as the process was yet to commence.
"My position is that my people should not be disenfranchised. INEC should allow the people to vote until the lost hours are recovered," Orji said. Also, a chieftain of the APC in the state, Chief Ikechi Emenike, flayed the INEC for the shoddy development.
In most of the over 2,000 polling units across Abia, voting did not start before 1.00pm.
Emenike, who voted at polling unit 011 at Okpuala Umukabia at 1.45 pm, was the second person to vote at the polling unit. He told journalists afterwards that INEC in Abia State had exhibited "incompetence" which Mr. President had complained about.
"INEC in Abia has refused to key into the change mantra of Mr. President by making sloppy arrangement for the polls in the state," he said, adding, "This is one way of trying to disenfranchise people."
Meanwhile, voters at the Abia State University, Uturu (ABSU) were unable to cast their ballots due to inadequate supply of ballot boxes and other electoral materials. It was gathered that INEC was only able to supply five ballot boxes instead of 33 needed for the 11 polling units in the university community.
The voters, who had been waiting to cast their votes were said to have protested against the huge shortfall of ballot boxes and INEC polling officials left to go and bring the remaining boxes but did not return.
Similar situations were recorded in many other areas.
Army: Lieutenant, 6 Assailants Killed in Rivers
The Nigerian Army said six assailants and a lieutenant were killed during attacks by suspected political thugs in Abonnema, headquarters of Akuku Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State. A statement yesterday by Acting Director Army Public Relations, Colonel Sagir Musa, said, "Information reaching Headquarters Nigerian Army (NA) revealed that troops of 6 Division on a legitimate duty of protecting lives and properties of law abiding citizens and ensuring a conducive environment for peaceful conduct of 2019 General Elections in Abonnema, Akuku Toru Local Government Area (LGA) Rivers State were attacked by some hoodlums.
"The pre-planned attack occurred in between Charles and Bob-Manuel's compounds in Abonnema Town at about 1:00pm on the 23rd February 2019.
"The attackers barricaded a major road into the town and laid an ambush in the adjoining built-up areas from where they opened fire on our unsuspecting troops when they attempted to remove the barricade.
"The gallant troops fought their way through the siege and in the process killed six of the assailants. However, we lost a lieutenant in the encounter.
"Preliminary investigation indicated that one Roland Sekibo, - the Chairman Akuku Toru LGA, Omodo - the CSO Akuku Toru LGA and Kenneth of Kula currently at large were the masterminds of the unexpected/ unprovoked attack.
"To this end, the NA strongly hereby state that perpetrators of this ambush will be made to face the full wrath of the law."
APC Killing Nigerians, Burning Ballot Boxes, Alleges PDP
PDP accused APC of killing innocent Nigerians, snatching and burning ballot boxes during yesterday's presidential election and National Assembly elections. The main opposition party stressed that President Muhammadu Buhari and the APC leadership must know that they were directly responsible for the killings in Rivers State, the violent snatching of ballot box and burning of electoral materials in Lagos and various other states where compromised security agents were used to directly interfere in the electoral process.
The party in a statement yesterday by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, said PDP was already compiling a list of infractions and killings as well as securing the identities of individuals who played roles in these the atrocities.
He stressed, "The unleashing of violence is the major part of the script by the APC to intimidate Nigerians and disrupt the election, in their bid to enforce the now failed President Buhari's self-succession plot.
"In Lagos state, the world watched in amazement as security agents aided APC thugs to invade polling centres, disrupt electoral process, manhandle voters, destroy and burnt electoral materials, including ballot papers and boxes.
"In Rivers state, voters were shot and killed by agents of the APC in their desperation to manipulate the elections."
The party, however, saluted the resilience, courage and sacrifices by Nigerians, across the board, in resisting the Buhari's anti-democratic forces and insisting that their votes must count, against all odds.
It said Nigerians across the country were exceptionally upbeat in their resolution to vote out this incompetent, violent prone and corrupt APC administration, despite the machinations of the Buhari Presidency
"This election has shown President Buhari and in particular, certain individuals in Lagos state, who thought that they were emperors, that the will of the people is bigger than them. The APC turned the election into a war but Nigerians have shown that nobody can suppress their resilient spirit."
The party called on INEC to ensure that all votes count as Nigerians are following all the figures from the polling units. It noted that having come thus far and after making huge sacrifices, Nigerians would never accept any result that does not reflect the reality of their already expressed wishes and aspiration at the polls.
16 Persons Die Election Violence, Says Situation Room
The Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room said it received reports that about 16 persons had lost their lives due the violence that characterised Saturday's presidential and National Assembly elections. It said the 16 deaths occurred across eight states, including, Borno - 2, Bayelsa - 2, Rivers - 6, Yobe - 2, Kogi -2, Ebonyi - 2, Lagos - 1, and Zamfara - 1. In Lagos State,
In Lagos State, the civil society coalition said there were reports of disruption of voting by suspected political thugs who shot in the air in some places and set ballot boxes and papers on fire in others in the Okota, Isolo and Oshodi suburbs of Lagos, just as there were other reports of violence caused by non-arrival of INEC officials and materials.
Executive Director, Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre, and Convener, Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room, Clement Nwankwo, who issued the statement of the coalition yesterday also said reports of smart card reader failures were significant during yesterday's election.
The statement said, "Situation Room received reports of several instances of smart card reader failure which have necessitated INEC officials resorting to manual accreditation. This was reported in Binji Local Government Area in Sokoto State and Owerri North LGA in Imo State.
"States where card reader challenge is prevalent also include, Imo, Lagos, Ogun, Abia, Nasarawa, Kebbi, FCT and Kaduna. The Situation Room restates, strongly, that there should be no voting without proper card reader authentication."
On the conduct of security personnel, the Situation Room said it received isolated reports of security personnel acting in an overreaching manner in some states, particularly Rivers, Akwai Ibom, Delta and Kogi states.
The statement reads: "The Situation Room notes with concern the rising incidences of violence and reported deaths in some states of the country. At the time of this statement, Situation Room has received reports of about 16 deaths across eight states: Borno - 2, Bayelsa - 2, Rivers - 6, Yobe - 2, Kogi -2, Ebonyi - 2, Lagos - 1, and Zamfara - 1.
"Situation Room calls on INEC and the security agencies respond swiftly to these issues and arrest culprits as promised by the Inspector General of Police."
The Situation Room further stated that there were incidences of vote buying across Lagos, Niger, Edo, Kwara, Kano and Katsina states.
INEC Scores Self High
Meanwhile, INEC said despite hitches associated with violence in some states and Smart Card Reader failure, it was satisfied with the conduct of the presidential and National Assembly elections. INEC National Commissioner and Chairman Voter Education and Publicity, Mr. Festus Okoye, stated this Saturday during his second briefing where he updated the press on the conduct of the elections.
He said, "As at this moment, INEC is generally satisfied with the process and the procedures for the conduct of these elections, notwithstanding the challenges relating to the commencement of polls in some polling units.
"When I briefed you earlier in the day, I did say that some poling units opened on time and some polling units did not open on time. Between 8a.m and 10a.m in the morning, the summary of the polling units that opened stood at 67.91 per cent, the polling units that opened after 10a.m stood at 16.96 per cent.
"So, at this moment, we recorded a total of 92.76 per cent of the polling units that opened. With regards to challenges associated with the Smart Card Readers (SCRs) in some polling units, most of these challenges were resolved on time."
Okoye added that the electoral body was still receiving reports relating to incidents in some states of the federation, especially in Akuku Toru and Bonny local government areas in Rivers State. He noted that as long as the commission could not deploy in those areas, the implication was that polls did not open in the areas.
Okoye said, "The commission will hold consultation with relevant authorities and the RECs in relation to these areas and will announce the date when polls will take place in some of these areas especially in relation to areas that may be affected in House of Representatives and senatorial elections.
"We heard reports of burning of electoral materials in Lagos, we heard report of burning of electoral materials in some part of Anambra State, we also heard reports of violence in places, like Rivers.
"So, we are just waiting for reports, we need to clarify, we need to be sure about these reports before we take final decision in relations to them. What we are waiting for is the official reports of some of these places for us to take a decision."