Despite the militarization of the voting process in 21st Century Nigeria by President Muhammadu Buhari, violence again marred Saturday’s governorship and state assembly elections across the country, with at least 13 people, including a House of Reps member and a police officer killed.
Dozens were wounded nationwide due to the win-at-all-costs approach by political aspirants and their godfathers, using thugs and some compromised security agents to unleash mayhem on the electorate.
This has again brought to the fore the question if people actually seek elective posts to serve the people or to enrich themselves?
The member of the House of Representatives from Lagelu/Akinyele (Oyo State) Temitope Olatoye, popularly called Sugar, was shot and later confirmed dead minutes after he was rushed to the University College Teaching Hospital, Ibadan for treatment.
Six people were killed in Khana (Ogoni) Local Government Area of Rivers State, with two of the victims beheaded. The social media is awash with the gory pictures, portraying Nigeria as a barbaric country, where life is still short and brutish.
One of the victims, Micheal Abedinigo, from Upatabo, was said to have been stabbed to death by thugs at Akinima, headquarters of Ahoada West LGA.
Reports from Buguma and Isiokpo said thugs went on the rampage throwing dynamites into people’s homes and cars.
The Katsina State Police Command confirmed the killing of a policeman and abduction of three INEC adhoc staff.
The police also said a civil defence officer was killed in separate attack while on election duty.
The Command’s Public Relations Officer, SP Gambo Isa, in two separate statements made available to newsmen on Saturday in Katsina, stated that the policeman, Cpl Mannir Usman, was killed while on election patrol at Gobirawa Falale, Danmusa Local Government area of the state.
The PPRO said that the gunmen ambushed the police team and shot Usman who was driving the patrol vehicle.
The gunmen also abducted three INEC adhoc staff on election duty in the same incident, he added.
The police further announced that a civil defence officer was shot on the chest at Santar Amadi village polling unit in Kankara Local Government area, in another attack on Saturday.
In Akwa Ibo, a suspected ballot box snatcher was shot to death by soldiers while attempting to run away with the box from a polling unit in Ikot Udo Ossiom village, Ukanafun council of the state.
The Police in Anambra State also confirmed the killing of two persons in Obosi area of the state during Saturday’s elections.
In Enugu, an election observer was reportedly killed by a police stray bullet at Umuida community, Enugu Ezike, Igbo-Eze north local government area of Enugu State, while a gang of gunmen allegedly working for some parties also rained bullets on polling units in Ughelli South local government area killing a man.
Mr. Ebere Amarizu, spokesman of the Enugu police command, confirmed the Enugu incident to journalists, attributing it to “accidental discharge”.
The man was said to have had a confrontation with the policeman at a polling unit metres away from the residence of the Enugu State APC governorship candidate, Ayogu Eze.
Two others were killed at Oba-Akoko, headquarters of Akoko Southwest local government area of Ondo State, following an attempt by political thugs to snatch a ballot box.
In Imo State, a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) agent was killed by suspected thugs in Eziama Obire in Nkwerre local government area of Imo State, while in Delta gunmen opened fire polling units in Ughelli South local government area of Delta State, leaving one person dead. Several others were wounded.
The presidential and national assembly elections of February 23 were also marred with violence in some parts of the country. At least 40 Nigerians were killed, including one INEC staff.
A shootout between the military and hoodlums in Abonnema, Rivers State left one solider and five others dead, the military said.
But the Abonnema people claimed that at least 35 of its children were killed by the military during that election.
Meanwhile, Nigeria’s main opposition, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) condemned the heavy militarization, violence and killing of innocent Nigerians during Staurday’s elections.
PDP National Publicity Secretary of the party, Kola Ologbondiyan blamed the development on what he saw as the desperation by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to win at all costs.
He said, “The world watched with utter horror as soldiers under the command of the Buhari Presidency, hound, arrest, shoot, terrorise opposition figures and provide cover for APC thugs to unleash violence, kill opposition members, cart away electoral materials and disrupt polls in PDP strongholds, all in the bid to forcefully foist the APC on Nigerians.
“In Rivers, Akwa-Ibom, Cross River, Delta, Bayelsa, Kogi, Benue, Imo, Abia, Ebonyi, among others, soldiers brazenly aided APC thugs to unbridle violence, hijack electoral processes and write fictitious results for APC candidates.
“In Rivers State, soldiers invaded INEC office in Bori, beat up and chased away PDP agents and assisted the APC in ballot stuffing and writing of results. The scenario was the same in Akwa-Ibom where security agents provided cover for APC thugs in their bid to hijack the electoral process.
“In Imo State, APC thugs, accompanied by security agents disrupted polls in PDP strongholds and reportedly killed a PDP agent in Umudo/Umuwala area of Owerri.
“In Ebonyi State, APC thugs aided by security agents, burnt down INEC facility in the state, seeing that their party did not have any foothold in the state.
“In Ajaokuta, Kabba/Bunu, Olamaboro, Ijumu and several other local governments in Kogi State, APC thugs, assisted by soldiers invaded polling units and carted away ballot materials, a development which sparked off restiveness in some areas and resulted in mass destruction of property in the area.”
The APC was yet to react to Saturday’s violence and killings as at the time of filing this report.