Controversies trail governorship elections in Kogi, Bayelsa, and Imo

Following the governorship polls in Kogi, Bayelsa, and Imo states on November 11, 2023, there has been a wave of violence and accusations of vote-buying, ballot-snatching, and other electoral malpractices.

According to reports from polling places in all three states, there were a lot of previously unheard-of abnormalities during the exercise.

Many thought that the fact that the activity was off-cycle added to the abnormalities.

According to StechiteGist Media, an off-season election is a political contest held outside of the general election’s schedule.

Speaking shortly after casting his ballot at Polling Unit 39, Ward 13, Otuoke, in Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, on Saturday, former President Goodluck Jonathan called on the National Assembly to amend the 1999 Constitution to put an end to the off-season exercise.

According to him, the exercise is “odd” and “not a global best practice.”

Speaking also in Bayelsa, Chief Timipre Sylva, the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state, alleged that security operatives are harassing his agents and “playing on the side of the PDP.”

The former governor who spoke after he voted at Ward 4, Unit 4 in the Brass Local Government Area of the Bayelsa state, claimed that a member of APC was shot and the polling units where he is popular were being targeted.

“There is a lot of violence from the PDP trying to molest our voters with security (agents),” Sylva said.

“In fact, in some cases, it is believed by our people that we are running the election, not against PDP, but against security (agents) but we are containing it.”

Similarly, the Labour Party (LP) governorship candidate in Bayelsa State, Udengs Eradiri has decried the level of vote buying in the poll.

He said that voters approached him to negotiate, but he declined.

“I had thought my message against money politics would have tracking with the people but I was wrong. I was deeply disappointed, I was wrong.

“My greatest disappointment was with a woman from this community to whom I offered a scholarship to her son, she sold her vote for N14,000 and I was disappointed,” Eradiri said after casting his ballot at Agudama-Ekpetiama in Yenagoa local government area.

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DAILY POST reported that Eradiri was defeated at his own Polling Unit by incumbent Governor Douye Diri of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.

The final tally from Unit 05, Ward 10, Yenagoa local government area (LGA) showed that Diri garnered 130 votes, while Eradiri managed only eight votes. The candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Timipre Sylva, got 45 votes in the same polling unit.

Meanwhile, the incumbent Governor and governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Douye Diri has alleged disenfranchisement of his supporters in Nembe-Bassambiri, Nembe LGA.

“We have concerns about Nembe-Bassambiri where our party members, most of whom were excluded, our agents have been stopped from going into Nembe,” Diri said.

The governor who shortly after casting his vote at his Kalamaowei Ward 6, polling unit 4, said his party had petitioned the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, on the situation.

Kogi State

In the North Central state of Kogi, there were reports of ballot-snatching. An alleged ballot box snatcher was gunned down in Anyigba in Dekina Local Government Area of the state on Saturday.

“An alleged leading political party thug was gunned down in Anyigba LGA, Kogi State in an attempt to disrupt the election by snatching the ballot box,” the Transition Monitoring Group (TMG) revealed on its X account on Saturday morning, sharing the video of a man clad in black lying in a pool of blood.

Meanwhile, Senator Dino Melaye, the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Kogi State, has alleged rigging of the exercise by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, in favour of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC.

In a video message shared via his X account, Melaye alleged that INEC officials were caught with pre-recorded result sheets in Ogori-Magongo local government area on Saturday morning.

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In another post on X, the former lawmaker called for the cancellation of the governorship election in five local government areas of Kogi Central Senatorial District, describing the exercise in the affected areas as “a scam.”

Melaye wrote, “INEC must cancel the election in the 5 local governments of Kogi central. The election in Okene, Okehi, Ajaoukuta, Adavi, and Ogori/Mangogo is a scam coordinated from the highest level of INEC.”

In a similar vein, the candidate of the Social Democratic Party, SDP, in Kogi State, Muritala Ajaka alleged that he got report that the INEC original result sheets were missing in some local government areas of the state.

Ajaka who spoke after casting his vote at the Okotonowa Polling Unit 005 in Owolapa Ward, Idah in Idah Local Government Area of the state, called on the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof Mahmoud Yakubu to investigate the missing result sheets in some local government areas of the state.

“From what we are seeing it is clear I’m the one having the majority but the report I’m getting from Okene and Adavi (LGAs) has been forwarded to Abuja. They have not seen the original results sheet in Okene and Adavi and I hope the INEC chairman is updated with this because there is no way we are going to an election that the original results sheet is not there,” he said.

Imo State

In Imo State, there were reports of widespread violence in Saturday’s off-cycle gubernatorial election. It was reported that sounds of gunfire disrupted the atmosphere at Amaimo Central School, Amaimo ward, Ikeduru LGA, Imo state, as police officers and party agents got into an altercation at the polling station.

A video surfaced on Saturday of an alleged police officer being manhandled by some youths who accused him of ballot snatching at the Amakohia Ikeduru collation center during the November 11 governorship poll.

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Meanwhile, the Nigeria Police Force has pledged to investigate the alleged involvement of one of its officers in ballot snatching during the governorship election held on Saturday at the Amakohia Ikeduru Collation Centre in Imo State.

The Force Public Relations Officer, ACP Muyiwa Adejobi, made this known in a statement shared on his X (formerly Twitter) on Saturday night while reacting to the viral video.

On Saturday morning, the chairman of the Labour Party in Imo state, Barr. Calistus Ihejiagwa accused members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state of allegedly hijacking the electoral materials meant for four wards in the Ideato North Local government area of the state with the aid of security agents.

“Rigging is ongoing now by APC at Akokwa in Ideato North LGA at the house of an indigene of the area. They highjacked all the voting materials from the four wards in Arondizuogu clan and are voting with it there,” he said in a statement issued on Saturday morning.

“They have about 10 Hilux vehicles with police, army, and NSDC. They blocked the roads and are giving APC cover as they rig the election,” Ihejiagwa added.

However, in his reaction, Cajetan Duke, APC spokesperson for Imo state denied the allegation, saying “there was no truth” in it.

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