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Published On: Sun, Mar 29th, 2015

Intimidation, Fraud, Late Arrival Of Materials Mar Polls In Delta

Prof Atahiru Jega

Prof Atahiru Jega

LAGOS MARCH 29TH (URHOBOTODAY)-Nigeria’s much-awaited presidential and national legislative elections held today were marred in Delta State by intimidation, fraud, late arrival of electoral materials as well as hitches with card readers in some parts of the state.
Even though our correspondent observed that there was a level of peace and calm in some local government areas he visited during the elections, many parts of the state were chaotic. One of the calm areas was Owhelogbo in Isoko North local government area of the state where the accreditation and voting were peaceful and calm as voters lined up to exercise their civic duty.

INEC Ruralreporters.com At Kwale and other parts of Ndokwa East and West local government areas, thugs allegedly recruited by Patrick Osakwe, a PDP figure who once served in the Senate, destroyed ballots boxes.
Eyewitnesses said the thugs invaded polling units with dangerous weapons, chased away voters, and then destroyed the electoral materials before running off with them to an unknown destination.
At Agbor, the headquarters of Ika South local government area, close to thirty people suspected to be hired by a politician in the area were arrested while others escaped.
SaharaReporters learnt that some supporters and party agents of Victor Ochei, the Delta North senatorial candidate of the Accord Party, were harassed or arrested at Aniocha by security agents and thugs sympathetic to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Condemning what he described as massive fraud, Mr. Ochei passed a vote of no confidence on the elections. “I see this election being cancelled nationwide because of the reported cases of widespread electoral fraud,” a visibly angry Ochei said. He condemned the intimidation and arrest of his supporters and party agents by security men and thugs working for the PDP.
Jones Erue, the Delta State chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), told our correspondent that security agents in different parts of the state intimidated several APC party members.
“At Emede there was no vote, there were no result sheets. Our party agents and supporters were chased away from various polling units by the military men drafted to the town by some members of the ruling party in the community. Thumb printing was carried out at Channel O Hotels, Ewhokpa, and other villages in Aviara under the supervision of the military men who helped in the carrying and escorting of these materials to the hotel,” he said.
At Ethiope East and West council areas, the electoral commission postponed the National Assembly election following the reported stealing of electoral materials.
Speaking with reporters, the Delta State Secretary to Government, Ovuozorie Macaulay, expressed disappointment over what he described as the shortchanging of voters by INEC.
He said electoral materials came late, adding that the electoral commission failed to keep its promise to convey materials to a central location where they would be sorted out. Instead, he accused INEC of bringing materials straight from its office in Ozoro, thereby delaying the whole process.
“107,000 people were registered by INEC in Isoko North but INEC brought 54,800 voting materials for the presidential election, while 74,600 and 74,400 materials were brought respectively for the House of Representatives and Senate elections, meaning we have a shortfall of 33,000 voting materials.”
He accused INEC of depriving a local government “which is totally PDP of 33,000,” describing it as “a huge loss and injustice. We are not happy with the development of depriving a whole 33,000 people of voting. However, I commend my people for maintaining peace throughout the election.”
At Ofagbe, Isoko North council area, a security source told our correspondent that three persons who allegedly hijacked electoral materials were arrested at the point of setting them ablaze.
At Emede in Isoko South local government area of the state, Benjamin Ogbalor, a politician and Director General of the Delta State APC governorship campaign organization, praised the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for reportedly wiping out rigging from the nation’s electoral processes.
“The card readers have brought discipline to the elections and we give kudos to INEC. We, the APC, will continue to have confidence in INEC because this is the first time the peoples votes will count,” Mr. Ogbalor stated.
Esievo Orezi, the PDP House of Assembly candidate for Isoko South constituency 1, remarked that the electoral process was too slow, but she commended the use of card readers. Ms. Orezi urged INEC to re-strategize for the April 11 elections. She expressed displeasure over the late arrival and distribution of electoral materials.
At Kiagbodo in Burutu local government area, the card reader failed three times to verify Ijaw ethnic leader, Edwin Kiagbodo Clark, but he was subsequently accredited after INEC officials worked strenuously to troubleshoot the problem.
In Bomadi, INEC officials also experienced difficulties with the card reader in verifying voters including James Manager who is seeking a fourth senatorial term in the National Assembly to represent Delta South senatorial district.
At Udu local government area, INEC suspended the presidential and National Assembly elections following violence in the area as well as a dispute over result sheets. A source disclosed that Raymond Adijala, a former transition committee chairman of Udu council, was physically attacked. “Some thugs attacked him with dangerous weapons,” the source said.
Meanwhile, Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta spoke to reporters shortly after casting his vote at his hometown of Abigborodo in Warri North West local government area. Noting the initial delay of voting, Mr. Uduaghan expressed guarded satisfaction with the election.
“The way the election is going, I can say it is an acceptable way of voting but I have gotten feelers from other part of the state that the process is slow and delaying. So I can’t give a general assessment of the card reader for now,” Mr. Uduaghan said.

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