Saturday Bye-Election: Terrorists Attack Collation Centre, Kill Two

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The re-run and bye-elections held Saturday February 3, 2024 in some parts of the country were greeted with cases of violence, allegation of vote-buying, ballot snatching, disruption and low turnout of voters in some polling units.

The Independence National Electoral Commission (INEC) conducted re-run polls at designated constituencies and polling units following the order by the election petition appeal tribunals.

The elections, according to the electoral body, were to fill vacancies in three senatorial districts, 17 federal and 28 state constituencies spread across 80 local government areas, 575 registration areas/wards and 8,934 polling units, involving 4,904,627 registered voters.

And of the registered voters, 4, 613,291 permanent voter cards collected were accredited for use.

For the bye-elections, the exercise came up in nine states for two senatorial seats, four Federal Constituencies and three State Constituencies.

This followed  the resignation or death of members after their election during the 2023 general elections.

Among such persons who resigned their positions are the Chief of Staff to the President, Femi Gbajabiamila, and Minister of Works Dave Umahi, the immediate past governor of Ebonyi state.  

Blueprint, however, gathered that the exercise was marred, in some polling units, by alleged thuggery, ballot-snatching and intimidation of voters, with the security agents making some arrests during the fracas.

Consequent upon this, INEC suspended the polls in some of the polling units like  Kano, Enugu, Akwa Ibom, and Plateau states.

Yobe collation centre attacked

Reports from Yobe state indicated an attack on a collation centre by the Boko Harm insurgents.

Confirming the development Sunday, the state government said the terrorists stormed the centre at Kukareta along Damaturu-Maiduguri Road, about 20 kilometres away from Damaturu, and killing two persons during the fracas.  

The governor’s security adviser, Major-General Dahiru Abdulsalam (rtd), who announced this, said the attack occurred in the early hours of Sunday, during the collation of results for the Yobe East Senatorial bye-election held Saturday.

According to reports, the house of the District Head of Kukareta community was burnt down by the insurgents who launched deadly attack on the collation centre.

However, the governor’s aide assured residents that  Damaturu, the state capital, is safe.

Protest in Kaduna

 Also, reports from Rigachikun in Igabi local government area of Kaduan said one Mansur Shafiu, a graduate of Kaduna State University (KADSU), was killed  by stray bullet.

This followed violence during the collation of results for the Igabi Federal Constituency after Saturday’s rerun.

The angry youth from Rigachikun town blocked the Kaduna-Zaria expressway at the Rigachikun end around 10:00am Sunday to protest the killing of one of their own.

But, soldiers from the nearby 1 Division Nigerian Army, arrived the scene to disperse the protesters.

Blueprint gathered that violence erupted during the counting of ballots  Saturday after it was observed that PDP was leading in Box 06 of Women Centre Ward of Rigachikun.

An eye-witness said when counting was ongoing, a group of thugs in company of some security personnel, stormed the area in a Hilux van with Abuja registration number, RBC 144 AP, snatched the ballot box and whisked away the INEC officials.

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A resident of the area, Musa Umar said, “after they left, former Speaker Kaduna State House of Assembly, Hon. Yusuf Ibrahim Zailani from APC who is also a resident of the area, came to the scene in company of police and the people started shouting “karyane ba mua yi”. Meaning, (it’s a lie, we are not doing).”

“It was at that moment the police accompanying the former Speaker started shooting into the air. In the process, a stray bullet hit Mansur Shafiu whose shop was nearby,” he narrated.

Meanwhile, Mansur, who was hit  by the stray bullet, was rushed to the hospital, but later died around 10:00pm Saturday.

Kaduna State Police Public Relations Officer, ASP Mansir Hassan confirmed the killing, saying the Commissioner of Police, Ali Dabigi, had directed the Deputy Commissioner of Police in Charge of Criminal Investigation, to investigate the matter and arrest the culprits.

Jallo, Rep-elect, pledges justice for Shafiu

However, Hon. Hussaini Muhammad Jallo, who emerged victorious at the re-run poll for Igabi Federal Constituency, said he dedicated his victory to God and the slain  Shafiu.

Jallo, in a statement issued in Kaduna Sunday, paid special tribute to the slain Mansur Shafiu.

“We will surely not allow this act of barbarism to go unpunished. We will engage the Nigeria Police Force to launch an immediate full-scale investigation with a view to fishing out the perpetrator of this killing and the deliberate attacks meted on voters during our rerun election that led to snatching of ballot boxes in Rigachikun, Unguwar Yelwa Birnin Yero, Kwarau, Mando and Joga by hired thugs to face justice.

“We have overcome numerous obstacles and challenges that stood in our way, we have faced adversity head on refusing to be defeated or deterred. We have put in countless hours of effort pushing ourselves beyond limit and never settling for mediocrity. My victory is not just a personal accomplishment, but a victory for all those who have supported me along the way. My accomplishments are culmination of unwavering belief and encouragement by all compatriots who stood firm against tyranny and injustice. 

“I acknowledge the challenges that lie ahead for victory is not a one time achievement but a continuous journey. I will face these future obstacles with the same determination and tenacity that brought me here. Today, I raise my voice to declare victory. I embrace the lessons learned, the experiences gained, and the growth achieved. I am a victor, I will continue to strive for excellence in all that I do,” he said.

 …NNPP senatorial candidate rejects Plateau results  

And from Plateau state, the Plateau North Senatorial candidate of the New Nigerian Peoples’ Party (NNPP), Yaqub Shafi’u, has rejected the results of the rescheduled rerun elections in the 16 polling units in Jos North local government area.

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The NNPP candidate said this Sunday at a press conference, insisting the rescheduled election was a grand plan to rob him and  his party of victory. 

Shafi’u said they didn’t seen the reasons behind the rerun election in those 16 polling units because of  mere claims by some people that there was “shortage of election materials in 18 Polling stations” in Tudun Wada Kabong and Naraguta ”B” wards.

“…it is clear to all that this is an off season election and NOT a general election, besides polling units 43, 45, , 51, 52, 53, 54 and 174 results were uploaded already on the IREV Server…owned by the same INEC that scheduled yet another re-run election scheduled for today February 4th 2024,” he said. 

Shafi’u alleged the exercise was rescheduled to favour the candidate of another political party.

“We therefore reject in the strongest term the so-called repeat election of 13 Polling Units in Tudun Wada Kabong and 3 Polling Units in Naraguta “B” wards believed to have arranged and scheduled in strongest wards of other political party other than my party that was massively voted by the people in order to favour a prepared candidate and his party,’ he said.

APC wins, PDP kicks in Ebonyi  

In Ebonyi, the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate in Ebonyi South Senatorial bye-election, Prof. Anthony Ani, has emerged winner of the poll.

Ani had 46,270 votes to defeat his closest rival, Ifeanyi Eleje of APGA who garnered 3,513, while Silas Onu of the PDP polled 2,783 votes and Linus Okorie of the Labur Party (LP) polled 2,710 votes.

Announcing this Sunday, the returning officer, Eze Uchechukwu said, Ani, having certified the law, was declared the winner and returned elected.

He had earlier announced a total of 56,363  as votes  cast,  and 695 as rejected.

Rejecting the results, the PDP candidate said: “In the build-up to the election, we also saw how institutions can become an obstacle to achieving the mandate given to them by law.

“We say this as a result of the shameful conduct of INEC, especially the Ebonyi State office that have become an extension of the APC in the State.

“When we held our congresses, we notified INEC as required by law and they deliberately and wilfully decided not to monitor our congresses for the election of delegates, citing factions within the PDP – one that only existed in the mind of the Resident Electoral Commissioner.

“We held our congresses and soon thereafter, the REC, working with some unknown elements who claimed to be “intending delegates”, instituted an action before the Federal High Court seeking the cancellation of our duly conducted Primary Election.

“This was certainly funded by the APC and with the complete collaboration of the Federal High Court Judge.

“The case was one that should not survive 10 minutes on any court docket as the law is visible even to a blind person that only an ASPIRANT who physically participates in a primary election can question the outcome of such an election.”

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Kayode Laguda wins SuruLere

And from Lagos state, the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Kayode Laguda, emerged winner of the bye-election for Surulere Federal Constituency 1 of Lagos State.

And of the 11,943 votes cast, 11,801 were valid and 138 rejected.

Of this figure, INEC retuning officer, Prof Adebayo Oladipo, said Laguda got a total of 11,203 votes to defeat his closest opponent, Jerry Afemikhe of the PDP who had  278 votes, and the LP’s Adeola Adebanjo, who scored 240 votes.

With this result, Oladipo pronounced Laguda as duly elected having won in all the polling units in the constituency.

Laguda is to replace former Speaker of the House of Representatives and current Chief of Staff to the President, Femi Gbajabiamila.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports there was a low turnout of  voters during the exercise.

INEC explains suspension of polls

Announcing the suspension of polls in some states, INEC National Commissioner and Chairman Information and Voter Education Committee Sam Olumekun, said 20 polling units were affected in the affected states.

In a statement Saturday, INEC had said: “Generally, polls opened promptly and accreditation going on smoothly in the 8,934 polling units in 26 states involved in today’s bye-elections and re-run elections.

“However, we are monitoring reported disruption of processes by acts of thuggery and hijacking of materials in some locations in Akwa Ibom, Enugu, and Kano states.”

Speaking further on reason behind its decision, the Commission said the suspension was followed irregularities and abduction of election officials.

It said: “The Independent National Electoral Commission announces the suspension of ongoing re-run elections in specific constituencies due to disruptions, irregularities and abduction of election officials. The affected areas are: “Ikono/Ini Federal Constituency, Akwa Ibom State: Suspension of elections in two Polling Units (Village Hall, EdemUrua 003 in Ini LGA and Village Hall Mbiabong Ikot Udo 003 in Ikono LGA) where all election materials were carted away by hoodlums.

“Enugu South 1 State Constituency, Enugu State: Suspension of elections in all eight polling units where the original results sheets were not available for inspection by voters before the commencement of polls.

“Kunchi/Tsanyawa State Constituency, Kano State: Suspension of elections in all 10 polling units in the Kunchi LGA due to invasion, vandalism, and disruption by thugs.”

While saying the suspension “aligns with the provisions of Section 24(3) of the Electoral Act, 2022,”  INEC said: “Further necessary measures for the affected constituencies will be announced after the commission’s meeting on Monday.

“INEC invites the security agencies to investigate the incidents, while the commission commits to thoroughly interrogating any breaches involving its officials.” (Blueprint)

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