Violence, vote intimidation and ballot box snatching dominates polls in Kogi and Bayelsa
Bookmakers were, yesterday, proven right, when shootings, widespread violence and electoral malpractice took centre stage as Bayelsa and Kogi states went to the polls to elect new governors, and a senator.
In the build up to the exercise, the actions and inaction of some interested parties, forced many, including observer groups to express fears that bedlam may reign. It did, as reflected in at least two deaths, maiming, kidnapping, several cases of ballot box snatching, intimidation of voters, massive rigging and sundry electoral malpractice, which were recorded in both states.
The nadir of the violence in Kogi State, was the killing of two persons, Umoru Shuaib and Faruk Suleiman, at Barracks Polling Unit in Abocho Community, in Dekina Local Council.
Three persons, who were shot in Bayelsa State, have their stars to thank for still being alive, while another youth identified as Prince Odede, allegedly had his hand chopped off by political thugs at Ward 5, Opolo, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.
In Kogi, which lived up to its reputation as a hotbed of political violence, an unidentified Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) official was allegedly kidnapped at the SUBEB Polling Unit in Lokoja.
The abduction allegedly occurred after gunmen shot sporadically into the air while voting was going on. As voters scampered for safety, the gunmen went away with the official. This happened not long after some suspected thugs reportedly attacked the polling unit where Senator Dino Melaye voted. The hoodlums reportedly broke one of the ballot boxes, carted away the other, and shot severally into the air as they departed in a black Hilux van.
Senator Melaye, who confirmed the development via his official Twitter handle, said that the incident did not happen while he was at the polling unit.
The gunmen, who killed the duo in Abocho, while they were about casting their votes, an eyewitness claimed, apparently came for Shuaib.
“They came in a bus while voting was taking place and were in police uniform. So, we didn’t suspect anything. Shuaib had voted and was chatting with Suleiman close to the poling unit, when the bus drove by. None of the occupants alighted from the vehicle, but all we just heard were gunshots and shouts from the victims, as well as onlookers. And in the ensuing pandemonium, the attackers drove off.