2023 State Elections:  How Electoral Violence Scared Voters  In Lagos, Rivers, As The Military Battles Terrorists

By Lateef Adegbite And Elizabeth Chukwuma

Those who think that there were technical hitches with the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System, BVAS, deployed by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, under the Chairmanship of Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, during the February 25, 2023, Presidential and National Assembly elections, would may have to do a rethink.

 This is because the same BVAS, that were deployed during the elections,were still used during the just concluded governorship and House of Assembly  elections on Saturday, March 18, 2023, though with minor reconfiguring. Note that the federal government had spent more than N300 billion to acquire the technology for the conduct of elections in Nigeria. 

Many believe that the malfunctioning of the technology during the just concluded Presidential and national Assembly elections was a clear case of the incompetence of the electoral officials, sabotage and plot by  the politicians who want  to ensure  that the results were never uploaded  to  the INEC ReV, in order to give the impression that it is ineffective and encourage the government to phase it out.

 Aware that INEC officials and the ad-hoc staff, have been properly retrained on the handling of the BVAS to upload results in real time for public viewing may have informed why the polical masters and their foot soldiers  , have gone back to the drawing  and which may be difficult to manipulate, may have informed  why the politicians have gone back to drawing  board on how to disrupt the elections through violence to rig the elections. 

This is evident going by what happened in Lagos, the home state of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, a former governor of the state,and now the President –elect , whose victory is being challenged in the Presidential election Tribunal , Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, by Peter Obi, a former governor of Anambra state,  and the flag bearer of the Labour Party, LP.

 Musiliu Akinsanya, popular, MC .Oluomo,  Chairman , Lagos Parks  and Management Committee, may have known that since the officials of the electoral umpire have decided to play to the regulations and guidelines of the 2023, electoral Act, by uploading the results in’’ real time’’ the APC, Candidates, seeking elective office, including Babajide  Sanwo-Olu, the party  governorship Candidate, may not win the election, that  he had warned the Igbo residents  in the state coming out  to cast their vote but  not ready to vote for the ruling APC ,in the state  to stay at home  or risk being attacked. The police Authorities had debunked the comments credited to Oluomo, asking people to disregard it as a joke.

Idowu Owohunwa, the Lagos state Commissioner of Police, may have risen to the challenge as he was said to have deployed more policemen on election duty to strategic locations in the state to promptly respond to any distress call on election violence in any area in the state. That was how far he could go.

Given the state police Authorities assurance to voters that there was no cause for alarm, may have encouraged many voters to come out to exercise their Franchise. Thy got it wrong. This because Oluomo, who has large follower of Area boys, popular, Agberos, who is not someone  who  issue a threat  without pursuing it to its logical conclusion  was said to have  concluded arrangement with his boys  to strike.

Party Thugs Attack Voters In Polling Units In Lagos

  It was not surprising why some of the polling units in the state were attacked to scare the voters and give the party thugs opportunity to do what they want with the collaboration of the INEC staff. Eye witness, account disclosed that no sooner had the voters started troopinging out around 11 am, to vote in their various polling units than for the Political thugs, believed to be symphatisers of the APC, to strike.

 . The Value News online Magazine had watched the bizarre situation as reported by Channels Television, showing how the political thugs had arrived some of the polling units in the state.  Going by the Channels report, the thugs were armed with dangerous weapons such as   bottles, sticks, canes, and fierce-looking dogs, which were used to chase the voters around.

Voters had expected the security agencies personnel, particular, policemen, on election duty in the state assigned to the polling units to protect them and the electoral officers to be on ground, but they were nowhere to found.  The policemen and INEC adhoc staff, were said to have disappeared with the BVAS,to unknown location  when they sighted the thugs, thus leaving the voters to their fate.    

The Channels Television, report, monitored by The Value News Correspondent at the FCT, on the governorship and state elections, shows that the party thugs, who may have had the backing of their   political sponsors, in high places, may have had a mandate to forestall a repeat of what happened during the Presidential and National Assembly elections but ensure that Sanwo-Olu, of the APC, who is seeking re-election, is returned to office, on May 29, 2023.

  A man who was come to vote in his polling unit at Oshodi –Isolo, local government Area , but could not say where his loyalty lies  was flogged  by the  party thugs as shown on Channels Television, , forcing him to vote for  the APC, governorship and the House of Assembly Candidate , for his LGA, also of the APC.

The fear by the Victorian Garden city, VGC, residents  that  hoodlums  might disrupt  the election process may have  discouraged the INEC ad-hoc staff  who did not feel secure  to come with their electoral materials  to the estate , which is around the Lekki Area of the state,  because of the incident of February 25, 2023, during the Presidential  and National Assembly elections when they were allegedly held hostage by the hoodlums.

This may have informed why   the INEC, Authorities in the state were forced to postpone the governorship and state Assembly elections in 10 polling units at the VGC, which was said to have continued on Sunday, March 19, 2023.

In Rivers state, over 50  INEC adhoc  staff were arrested , by Policemen  from MOPOL19 on election duty  on Sunday, March 19, 2023, a day after  the gubernatorial and state Assembly  elections in a private residence  in Rumueprikon , PortHarcourt, allegedly  thumb-printing  ballot papers  for the ruling PDP, Candidates, in the state as the election was said to have been disrupted by thugs , thus leading to low turnout of voters during the state  elections.

Amaechi: Former Minister Of Transportation

Rotimi Amaechi, a former governor of Rivers state and immediate past minister of Transportation had accused political contractors of Nyeom Wike’s Administration of being behind the electoral violence in the state. Addressing Journalist after casting his vote at Ward 8, polling unit 14, , Ubima Community, in Ikwerre , LGA,   the former Rivers state governor , who could not hide his feelings  had described the conduct of the elections , in the south-south state  as a ‘’complete failure of governance’’, which was an indictment on Wike.

He had said that ‘’the situation in the oil state   had led to voter apathy as most people had failed ’’to show up for the polls for fear of being eaten by the thugs’’. The murder of Chisom Lenard, the Director General of the APC,  Campaign  in Ahoada West  LGA, by  yet-to be-identified gunmen in the afternoon of Saturday, March 18, 2023, during the governorship and state Assembly  elections,  bear eloquent testimony to the high level of electoral  violence in the state.

 In a related development, while casting his vote, in Daura, Community, in Katsna, hos home state,  President Muhammadu Buhari, who noted that  he is aware  that ‘’the money  is not there like  before  for people  to sway their votes as they used to do’’, had advised  voters  that ‘’ if the politicians bring the money now, the people should pocket it  and still vote for their conscience’’ .

But the Economic and Financial  Crimes Commission, EFCC, under the close watch of  Abdulaziz Bawa,  operatives, on election duty,, across the country and who had put a close tab on politicians  to guide against  vote buying may not have cued into the Katsina state born Nigerian’s President’s advice.

 The Commission  Election Monitoring Team, in Sokoto state,  were said to have intercepted  bales of fabrics  allegedly belonging  to a Principal officer  of the state House of Assembly  seeking re-election, for distribution to voters in his LGA, Area, to sway their votes in his favour.  

 The antigraft agency personnel, may not have .allowed the items to get into the hands of the voters to forestall rigging.The Commission was said to have also   in Argungu LGA, of Kebbi state, a vehicle, fully loaded with fabrics and other items suspected to be earmarked for voter inducement.

Even the  Independent  Corrupt Practices  and Other Related Offences  Commission, ICPC, could not spare the politicians, who had  wanted to induce the voters,  as the Commission was said to have   arrested one Mahe Bello, with the sum of N38,00.00 cash, two Permanent Voters card, PVC, , one Automoted Teller Machine, ATM,  and an infinix phone.

Another suspect, Musa Adamu, still in the custody of the ICPC,   was said to have had in his possession CFA228,000, which was being offered  to voters, meaning that some of the voters in the state , were not Nigerians.

Lt .gen.  Farouk Yahaya, led Nigerian Army, on its part, who had been working round the clock to contain Terrorists , who  were bent on disrupting the election process at the collation centres  in the flashpoint states.There is no gain saying the fact that the  Islamic Fundamentalist Group, BokoHaram and the Islamic State of West African Province, ISWAP, operating in the north eastern geopolitical region states of Borno and Yobe including the Bandits Group, operating in the north western states  of  Kaduna, Zamfara, Skoto, Katsina, and Niger, home state of Ibrahim Babangida, a retired Army General and former Nigerian military President are bent on disrupting process but for the troops being on the red alert at all times.

The Nigerian Airforce, under the close watch of Air Marshal Isiaka Oladayo Amao, was said to have carried  out a major offensive  against  the bandits , killing scores of hem  in multiple airstrikes  in their hideout in  Igu Village,  Munya LGA, of  Niger state to assist the ground troops .

NAF Strikes IN Bandits Hideouts in Niger State

 The over 60 members of the ISWAP,  who had attempted to infiltrate  an Army base serving as a Collation centre for the March 18, 2023, state governorship and Assembly elections, would never forget their experience in a hurry  as they were said to have  met their waterloo, in the hands of Nigerian troops.

Reports , from military sources  shows that  the Insurgents  had stormed Mafa in gun trucks  and motorcycles on the early hours of Sunday, March 19, 2023,  and headed towards  the military base  where the  Collation of votes for the LGA,  was ongoing.

 Security experts had said that  without the aggressively  executed  counter-attack  operation  which was supported  by Operation Hadin Kai  air Tskforce  fighter jets  that was said to have been  dispatched  to the scene  which bombarded  the fleeing  terrorists, killing a large number of them, they would have disrupted the  exercise at the Mafa Collation centre and other Areas of Borno, home state of Kashim Shettima, a former governor of the state and now, Vice President-elect, on the ticket of the APC.  

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *