THE Lokoja/Kogi federal constituency seat bye-election held on Saturday was marred with death irregularities like ballot snatching, intimidation, violence and vote buying.
The deceased, a young man was said to have died in the process of snatching a ballot box at NEPA poling unit along Murtala Mohammed way, Lokoja.
The unidentified man was said to have stormed the polling unit to cart away the ballot box but was resisted by the vigilant youths of the area.
However, luck ran out on him as the gun he allegedly hid in his pocket was said to have discharged, killing him on the spot.
The voting exercise which commenced peacefully in the morning later turned violent in some polling units as sporadic gunshots rented the air with the aim of intimidating voters.
The state police command also failed to enforce the restriction on movement order as people moved about and engage in their normal commercial and personal activities.
In Lokoja local government area, suspected political thugs in white caps allegedly from neighbouring local government went around the town to disrupt voting in some centres.
Some government officials and political office holders were also noticed moving around with security agents in Lokoja and Kogi local government areas where the election was held.
There were cases of ballot snatching in Paparanda square, St Mary Primary School, Adankolo, Crowther Memorial Secondary School, all in Lokoja, while cases of vote buying were witnessed at St Peter’s primary school, Felele.
At about 1 pm, some of the polling units that had been peaceful witnessed various levels of violence as the suspected political thugs discovered that the voting patterns were not in favour of the political party they were working for.
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The candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Abubakar Bashir, lamented that the process was marred with irregularities.
He said members and supporters of the party were attacked and intimidated by political thugs that were “imported” into the state.
But the national commissioner of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), representing Kogi, Nasarawa and Kwara states, Mohammed Haruna, said the commission would cancel elections where there were clear evidence of violence and infractions on the rules guiding elections.
He said: “Our rules are very clear anywhere there is disruption and the disruption is enough… and there are threats to our staff, we will cancel the election in those areas.
INEC does things according to its own rules and now we do accreditation and voting simultaneously so anything that is contrary to that is not acceptable to INEC.
“I am assuring that we will comply strictly with our rules so anywhere thee violation of those rules we will act accordingly.
On the allegation of vote buying in the election, Haruna said: “vote buying is illegal, anywhere there is vote buying, as much as we can, we will prosecute people that are caught and anything that violates our procedures for voting, we will act which is essentially to cancel the election. Any election that is not free fair and credible will be cancelled”.
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