Thugs disrupt polls, two fatally injured, Edo INEC staff allegedly abducted

Security agencies narrowly lost the chains of command Edo State when suspected invaded some voting centres, disrupted elections and snatched ballot boxes during Saturday February 23, 2023 presidential and National Assembly elections in the State.

ARMED POLICE PERSONNEL AT A POLLING CENTRE/SCATTERED BALLOT MATERIALS

This followed the violence that trailed the conduct of the polls where 7000 policemen were deployed in addition to other security agents for the exercise, which recorded late arrival of voting materials in most parts.

Reports from Iyowa Ward 4, in Ovia North East Local government Area of the State, say two unidentified persons were fatally injuries during a gun duel between security agents and political thugs, leading to the alleged abduction of two-yet-to-be identified ad-hoc staff of INEC.

It was learnt that voter accreditation by ad-hoc staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, had barely started when the gunmen invaded the polling centre and opened fire and snatch ballot boxes.

Eligible voters scampered for safety while an unspecified number of the Bimodal Accreditation System (BVAS) machines got missing amid sporadic gunshots.

Speaking on a Radio station tagged ‘Nigeria Decides 2023’, Lady Omosede Igbinedion, Peoples Democratic party Candidate, representing Ovia Federal Constituency, accused his main opponent and Candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Hon. Dennis Idahosa of fuelling crisis in the area.

The PDP Candidate also alleged voters intimidation and harassment by suspected thugs.

A similar attack also happened in Oredo Ward 6 polling Units in Idia College, the former State Ministry of Education, Iyaro and Mission Road by Ugbague street junction, were allegedly invaded by hoodlums.

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The gunmen who latched on the absence of armed security agents at the affected voting centres and struck in the area which is close to Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State, voting centres in Emokpae primary school, Ward 4, Oredo Local Government Area of the State on Saturday afternoon.

It was gathered that the hoodlums disrupted the peaceful voting after the violence erupted.

A Benin-based journalist, Mr Eben Kingsley Enasco, who confirmed the attack on Saturday afternoon, said the incident happened almost at the same the Governor and his wife, Mrs Betsy Obaseki, were about to perform their civic duties.

A public affairs commentator who did not want his name on print, raced the attack to lapses on the part of security personnel who concentrated their efforts at the Governor’s voting centres, launched on soft target.

A volunteer, Sunny Ighedosa, said the situation was later brought under control by security agents who mobilized to area and chased the hoodlums away after the hoodlums have disrupted voting.

Ighedosa alleged that he heard gunshots around the King square and encouraged elderly female voter who scampered for safely, following the invasion of a nearby voting Centre.

TheNewspad reports that there was widespread reports on delayed arrival of election materials, especially in Ikpoba-Okha where the voters were agitated.

Despite the pockets of complaints due to logistics challenges in some parts of the State, here was a large turnout of eligible voters and pockets of violence of the State.

Lucky Way, Upper Mission, Uteh, Saint Patrick Catholic church area around Eyaen and its environs had logistics challenges, which delayed voting in the areas.

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Officials of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) made efforts to address some the logistics challenges bothering on late arrival of voting materials.

Security personnel on ground were civil, while eligible voters were upbeat and orderly.

The turnout of voters at The George Idah primary school in Oredo Local Government Area of the State, was also impressive.

Officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) were also present at the George Idah voting Centre apparently to forestall vote buying by politicians.

Elections were relatively peaceful in most parts of Edo North Senatorial district including Edo Central Senatorial district where INEC suspended elections in two Constituencies due to logistics challenges arising from absence of Labour party logo on the ballot papers.

Commenting on the development, the police Command in Edo State through its spokesman, SP. Chidi, assured that the will comment on the matter soon after preliminary investigation has been concluded.

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