Vote Buying, Violence Mar Delta Governorship, Assembly Elections

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The governorship and house of Assembly elections which was observed to be peaceful in some areas in Delta state was marred with votes buying by the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress, (APC) across the state.

At Ekiugbo community, Ughelli North local government area of the state, HardReporters correspondent who moved round the state monitoring the elections, was told that a former commissioner and PDP Delta central campaign chairman, Fred Majemite, was seen disbursing money to electorates to cast votes for his party.

At Beneku community, home town of the member representing Ndokwa East constituency and deputy speaker of the house of Assembly, Friday Osanebi, it was gathered that at the commencement of voting, Osanebi disbursed money to electorates before political thugs allegedly hired by the deputy speaker snatched away ballot boxes to unknown destination where thumb printing was carries out.

At Ikpide-Irri riverine community, Isoko South local government council, votes buy followed by intimidation of APC members by security agents working in connivance with the PDP was said to have been carried out by a PDP chieftain in the area, one Immanuel Emoefe and other party leaders in the area.

It was also gathered that at Ughelli, Abraka and Orogun, cash were allegedly disbursed to electorates by the All Progressives Congress, (APC) during the elections.

Massive vote buying according to eyewitnesses, took place in ward 5 unit 1, 2 and 3 in Warri North local government area of the state by officials of the PDP, at Uto Ukpo, Ika North East council area, electoral materials were said to have been carted away by suspected political thugs working for the PDP.

At ward 5 unit 4 and 6, Eziokpor of Ukwuani local government area, rigging and malpractices were said to have taken place whike at Bomadi, James Manager’s ward 4, 5, 6, some men with military uniforms and PDP agents chased away APC members from voting, and at ward 13 unit 5 and 7, Isoko South local government area, youths suspected to be PDP thugs made away with electoral materials.

Voting was said to have been disrupted at Oyede and Bethel, Isoko North local government area as thugs believed to working for the APC invaded polling stations with dangerous weapons but were countered by PDP members with weapons leaving several others wounded in the process.

At Evwreka, one person was killed why several others were shot and attacked with dangerous weapons at Oviri-Olomu and Owhodokpopo-Olomu communities, Ughelli South local government area by persons said to be APC hired thugs, alleged led by one Efe Duku, legislative Assistance to Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, representing Delta central senatorial district.

At Iyede ward 1, unit 003, Isoko North local government area, some group of thugs in military uniform accompanied by some PDP leaders in the area said unleashing violence, mayhem and chasing away APC supporters while flogging others during voting.

In Abraka, Ethiope East council area, home town of the APC governorship candidate, Great Ogboru, the incumbent member of the house of Assembly representing the area, Evans Ivwurie, was booed be constituents at the polling station, calling him “Thief, Ole, Ole.”

Speaking shortly after casting his vote along side his wife in Abraka, the APC governorship candidate, Great Ovedje Ogboru, said “I have just voted. Although there are pockets of violence in some parts; and the security is weak in several places. But in any case, we’ve seen how the beginning is, we will see how the day will end and my expectation is that I will win.”

Addressing the press shortly after casting his vote with his wife and children at different polling units ward 2, Omi primary school and unit 3, Owa-Alero, Ika North-East local government area, the state governor, Ifeanyi Okowa expressed confidence that he will emerge victorious in the governorship polls at the end of the day.

“By the grace of God, I will emerge victorious; I have partnered with Deltans, I have worked with them, and by God’s grace, a lot of them will vote for me. The only thing we are doing is to ensure that those who planned to use thugs to disrupt the elections will be handled by the security agencies because, aside plans to disrupt the elections, it would be a no contest situation.

“So far, the electoral process is peaceful, and we pray to God that it remains peaceful; people are coming out in their large numbers to cast their votes, a lot of votes have been cast already despite the fact that it is still very early in the day; we hope that the voting process remains peaceful across the state.

“I believe the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has done well, everything appears to be working well, but, the day is just starting and of course, we are still perfecting our system but, the best thing is the effectiveness of the response to handle any challenge as they occur by the INEC officials. INEC did well to deploy a lot of youth corpers at each polling unit, that has made the job easy as they assist themselves, we can see that there is a lot of assistance to each other.”, Okowa said.

Speaking to Journalists, after casting his vote accompanied by his wife at his Abigborodo home town,Warri North local government area, immediate past governor  of the state, Emmanuel Uduaghan and APC Delta South senatorial candidate, noted that about two days, officials of INEC started sending out the materials to the various local government councils and by Friday the materials would have been at the RAC (Registration Area Centres) and Abigborodo is a centre.

“But I think my party in Warri North protested. Based on our security experience, if you take the materials a day before the voting to any of the riverine areas, it is a very risky business because people can go there at night and vandalise them. So, I think the party protested and INEC evaluated. So, it was this morning that they (INEC officials) left Koko but it was much earlier than the last time.

“I will not be surprised in the case of Sapele because you know that in the last exercise, there were some skirmishes and people died. So, I think the security is tighter in these elections because of what happened in the previous elections. The security agencies usually evaluate what is on ground based on information and, of course, intelligence report. So, maybe the security arrangement, this time, was because of previous experience, currently information and intelligence report, which I don’t know.

“We are optimistic. Let us get the results first; let me get the reports first because I don’t know what is happening in other areas. I don’t know whether people are behaving, misbehaving or there is a security challenge. So, it is difficult for me to just give a verdict.”, Uduaghan stated.

At Owhelogbo, Isoko North local government council, immediate past Secretary to the Delta state Government, SSG, Ovuozorie Macaulay, described the election very orderly so far, saying that “My hope is for the exercise to continue like this till the end, so there will be a happy ending,  so there will be no doubt that the history of the political process in this state will not be changed,  what I mean is that from 1999 till date this state has been know to be a PDP state and I don’t think its going to change in this election.”

Also speaking, PDP former House of Assembly candidate, Isoko North constituency, Mike Ogwah, noted that the elections were generally peaceful in Owhelogbo adding that “We are very sure of victory at the end.”

At Emede ward 5, unit 2, Isoko South council area and home of the state chairman of APC, Jones Erue, election did not take place as electoral materials were said to have been destroyed by persons suspected to be members of the PDP, while members of the APC lamented the absence of the state chairman during the elections, saying that in every elections, it has become a ritual that Erue is always absent.

At Oleh Ward 1, headquarters of Isoko South council, the APC chairman in the area was severely attacked by persons said to be PDP thugs who invaded the polling unit and began to unleash mayhem on APC supporters.

Speaking with Journalists, APC chieftain in the area and human rights lawyer, Rockson Igelige said, “As we speak, the APC Chairman of Oleh Ward 1, Vincent Egbogbo has been stabbed on the head by a PDP thugs and currently hospitalized in a pull of blood. We call on the security agencies to quickly come to our rescue and restore the confidence of voters in Oleh. Otherwise, the situation will degenerate and lead to complete breakdown of law and order, as no one has monopoly of violence.”

At a polling unit in Afiesere community, Ughelli North local government area and home town of the commissioner for finance, David Edevbie, two persons said to be supporters of the APC, narrowly escaped death after a heated argument where APC members were allegedly been forced by PDP members to the PDP.

Our correspondent reliably gathered that few day to the elections, the finance commissioner had met with the leadership of the community and decision was reached and announcement round the community was made that anyone who cast a vote to the PDP will be made to pay a fine of N50,000.

At Evrweni, shortly after casting hi vote, 2015 APC governorship candidate in the state, O’tega Emerhor noted that “We started very early, we didn’t have logistics problem this time around as far as this ward is concern, I have cast my vote,  this time around the card reader was quick, I can see visible improvement and excitement everywhere,  its a peace full exercise as far as this ward is concern, we also hope to get results quickly as far as the exercise is over.”

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