…as Oshiomhole deplores thuggery
. Scanty voters at Garrick Memorial School, Benin
Ben Peters, Benin
Edo voters on Saturday lined up to cast their ballot for the candidates of their choice in the rescheduled House of Assembly polls in their various polling units.
But the polls were marred by voter apathy, low voter turnout, violence and vote buying.
At the popular Garrick Memorial Secondary along Ekenwan Road, Agbado Primary School, Emokpae Primary School and several other polling centres all in the Edo State capital, the turn out of potential voters was dismal unlike in the February 25 Presidential/National Assembly elections where there were long queues.
Reports from several polling units both in other parts of Edo South, Central and South Senatorial districts indicated low turn out and apathy of voters even as the Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS) worked well.
There were unconfirmed reports of vote buying by some of the political parties in Benin in a desperate attempt at turning the table against a resurgent Labour Party (LP) which upstaged the two main parties: the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the main opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
Former Edo State Governor Adams Oshiomohle however accused security agencies of colluding with the local vigilantes to unleash mayhem and snatch ballot boxes in the flashpoint small town of Sobe, Owan West Local Government Area in favour of one of the candidates.
There was violence at the Internally Displaced Persons Camp, Uhoghua Ovia North East Local Government Area as hoodlums stormed the sleepy community in a commando-like manner and disrupted the election.
It was gathered that the heavily armed men stormed the camp 30 minute after the election started, shooting sporadically and chased voters away from the polling units, destroyed election materials, and made away with the Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS).
The voters were said to have scampered for safety to avoid being hit by stray bullet.
An eye witness who would not want his name in print lamented that the situation was like a war zone in the camp during the assault.
He said the gunmen stormed the camp with their vehicles and started shooting sporadically just when people gathered to vote and had to run into the bush for safety.
He wailed: “The hoodlums went for the ballot boxes, papers, Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS) and carried everything away. Many people lost their Permanent Voters Cards in the process. There was no security presence during the attack.”
Speaking on his mobile phone, the coordinator of the camp, Pastor Folorusho Solomon, confirmed the incident, saying election did not hold in the area as a result of the incident.
Pastor Solomon however added that he didn’t know who actually carried out the attack