Nigeria: INEC Officials Failed to Report Fatal Violence, Ballot Box Theft At Kogi Polling Units

19 November 2019

Despite the disruption of voting, ballot box snatching and the killing of two persons at several polling units in Ward A in Lokoja, none of the incidents were reported by the collation officers and the presiding officers of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Even though elections were supposed to be cancelled in the affected polling units in keeping with the guidelines of INEC, the officials curiously declared results from the units where ballot boxes were carted away and subsequently omitted them from the list of affected polling units to be cancelled.

While submitting his report at the INEC headquarters, the Collation Officer for Lokoja Local Government Area, Godwin Oganeme of the Department of Philosophy, University of Abuja, said there were no incidents of violence in Lokoja A (Ward 01, also called Ward A).

He said only three Registration Areas of Lokoja B(02), Lokoja D(04) and Ward 09 were affected by violence with a total of 16 polling units involved.

He also said that the total registered voters in these units was 14,949.

PDP fumes

The collation agent of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Joe Agada, after the presentation of results, drew the attention of the Returning Officer and other INEC and security officials at the collation centre that the report by the collation officer did not indicate the disruptions in most of the units in Ward A.

He said shooting and disruption which happened in Lokongoma PU 004 where one person was shot dead was not indicated in the report.

This reporter was a witness to the disruption at Lokoja Club PU 016, where the hoodlums struck brazenly and did not only remove the ballot boxes but also stole the handbags of the female ad hoc staff containing their valuables.

What was left after the hoodlums carted away electoral materials at PU 016 Lokoja Club at GRA.

Also, the disruption at the Crowther Memorial College and the removal of the ballot boxes, which were well reported, was also not captured in the report of Mr Oganeme.

Another incident opposite Moremi Restaurant Open Space Polling Unit 008, which was also witnessed by PREMIUM TIMES reporter, was not mentioned by Mr Oganeme.

The police on Sunday confirmed the death of two persons in Adankolo polling units. Adankolo has the following PUs 021, 007, 006 and 005, also in Ward A.

The killings followed the attack on the polling units by armed men who stormed the place and carted away ballot boxes.

Going by the report of Mr Oganeme, no cancellations were done in these affected PUs, even though observers and the media had reported the violent disruptions which occurred there.

The Cancelled Elections

According to the Lokoja Collation Officer, the election in one PU in Ward 02 was cancelled; 5 PUs were cancelled in Ward 04; and 10 PUs were cancelled in Ward 09.

He said the cancellations were as a result of disruptions and ballot box stealing as well as overvoting.

The situation at the Crowther Memorial College Lokoja after the visit of the ballot box thieves.

It is curious, therefore, that the affected PUs in Ward A were also not cancelled, but results were declared and computed despite the fact that the ballot boxes there were also snatched by gun shooting uniformed men.

Despite the protest of the PDP agent, the Returning Officer, Garba Ibrahim, said he had no power to intervene.

He said the PDP could only proceed to make a formal report to the INEC and perhaps seek redress in the court of law.

However, the All Progressives Congress commended the security agencies for doing a good job in Kogi State governorship election in spite of the brazen breach of security and peace during the election.

At the end of the collation of results, INEC declared incumbent Governor Yahaya Bello of the All Progressives Congress the winner of the governorship election.

Meanwhile, the candidate of the PDP, Musa Wada, said on Monday that he would seek to upturn the declaration of Mr Bello as the governor of the state.

"What happened in Kogi was an organised war against democracy; coup against the people and seizure of power through brigandage and the barrel of the gun with members of the police and other security agencies coordinating the stealing of the people's votes," said Mr Wada.

"We will never despair but remain strong in our determination to retrieve the mandate freely given to us by the people in their desire for a change. We will pursue this course to its logical conclusion within the confines of the law of this country," Mr Wada said.

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