Widespread violence, death and manipulation of the electoral process by vested interests yesterday scarred the governorship/state assembly elections in the country.
No fewer than 21 people were killed, most of them in the flashpoint states predicted by the security agencies beforehand, and to which they promised to deploy more hands to nip in the bud any threat to law and order.
The assurances turned out to be a hoax with six deaths in Rivers, five each in Akwa Ibom and Kebbi, three in Imo, two in Cross River, and one each in Plateau and Bauchi States.
Scores of other people were either wounded in attacks by thugs, or intimidated by them.
The residence of the Rivers State Commissioner for Women Affairs, Mrs. Joeba West, in Buguma, Asari Toru Local Government Area in was torched by hoodlums.
Turn out by voters was generally low across the country in contrast to the huge enthusiasm shown by them during the March 28 presidential/national assembly polls.
The Akwa Ibom killings occurred at Mbiabong Etoi, Shelter Afrique (Uyo), Ndiya in Nsit Ubium, Etim Ekpo, and Ini Local Government Areas.
The whereabouts of a reporter in one of the local tabloids, Radar Newspaper, Mr. Aniedi Ukpoenang, was unknown last night.
Ukpoenang was said to have been abducted by PDP thugs at Ekpeyong Ufum village, Odoro Ikot clan in Essien Udim LGA.
The Assistant Inspector General of Police Baba Adisa Bolanta could not confirm the killings but promised to call the Commissioner of Police in charge of Akwa Ibom state Gabriel Achong for confirmation.
Bolanta said: “I am not aware that five persons have been killed. Let me call the CP to find out.”
Election materials -mainly ballot boxes and papers – were freely snatched by thugs while voters, mainly supporters of the All Progressives Congress (APC) were harassed.
Consequently, the leadership of the party in the state pulled out of the elections.
Of the six deaths in Rivers, three occurred in Buguma, Asari Toru Local Government area, one in Omagwa, Ikwerre Local Government area and two in Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government area.
Elections materials were also freely snatched in many parts.
Soldiers allegedly killed four voters in Bayan Dutse Polling Unit, Ginga Ward, Suru Local Government of Kebbi State.
The Police Public Relations Officer, Nafiu Abubakar, confirmed the incident to journalists, saying: “Yes, we have received report of the killings of four people allegedly killed by soldiers.”
He gave no details but said such would be made available in due course.
The House of Representatives member elect for Suru/Bagudo , Alhaji Abdullahi Suru, also confirmed the development to reporters.
He said the incident happened around noon on Saturday as accreditation was going on in the area which is an APC stronghold.
A councilor was alleged to have invited the soldiers to arrest some prominent elders in the area because he had been prevented from accessing the polling unit to rig.
“The soldiers opened fire on the voters who challenged them from ‘arresting’ the elders,” he alleged.
Three persons, suspected to be thugs were killed in Imo State when a vehicle in which they were trying to escape after snatching some ballot boxes somersaulted.
The incident occurred at Okwele in Onuimo Council Area of the state.
An eye witness said the hoodlums had just snatched some boxes when they sighted an army patrol team. The soldiers gave them a chase and in the process, the driver of the thugs’ vehicle lost control leading to the vehicle to somersault.
There was heavy shooting at polling units in Owerri North, Aboh Mbaise, Onuimo, Oguta, Oru East and Ohaji-Egbema Council Areas while soldiers arrested some hoodlums wearing army uniform and armed with AK 47 rifles in Aboh Mbaise Council Area.
The suspects, it was gathered, had attempted to snatch electoral materials.
Governor Rochas Okorocha who is seeking reelection on the platform of the APC condemned the violence that marred the elections.
Speaking to reporters after voting at Ogboko he blamed the violence especially in Oguta, Ohaji-Egbema, Aboh Mbaise Council Areas, on desperate politicians.
He said a panel of Inquiry would be set up to investigate the involvement of politicians.