Voters said they were paid between N12,000 and N40,000 in a massive vote-trading that characterised the gubernatorial election in Bayelsa on Saturday.
Governor Duoye Diri of the PDP and his main opposition, Timipre Sylva of the APC, also traded blames and accusations over violence; while Labour Party (LP) candidate, Udengs Eradiri, said he was overwhelmed by the level of vote buying.
Eradiri, who spoke at Agudama-Ekpetiama after voting at the poll, said that voters approached him to negotiate but he declined because his interest was for a better Bayelsa State.
“My greatest disappointment was with a woman from this community whom I offered a scholarship to her son, she sold her vote for N14,000 and I was disappointed,” he said.
Speaking after voting, Sylva accused security agents, especially the army of conniving with the PDP to rig his party out.
Sylva, who voted at Polling Unit 4, Dukuraku Central Open Space, Okpoama, Ward 4, Brass Local Government, alongside his wife, Alaingi, however expressed confidence that his party will coast to victory at the end of the day.
“For INEC, there is a lot of improvement, this is a human system, we expect there will be lapses but I was very shocked how that register was not uploaded in my ward, but we believe there is still room for improvement,” he said.
Also, Governor Diri accused Sylva and his party of aiding the attack on PDP members in Nembe-Basambiri, Nembe LGA of the state.
Diri, who voted at Kalama-owei Wari Unit 4 Ward 6 Sampou in Kolokuma/Opokuma LGA, commended the INEC for improving their facilities and training of personnel.
He said: “I think this is an improvement on all other elections that we have participated in, and it’s very seamless, very fast and if it continues like this, then I want to believe that INEC is improving not only on their facilities but the training of their personnel that are handling the process.
“But we have concerns about Nembe-Basambiri, our party members, most of them have been excluded, our agents have been stopped from going into Nembe, that is a very serious concern. Our party has written to INEC and they have to take drastic action to ensure our people are allowed to vote.”
Earlier, suspected armed thugs had gone on rampage in some parts of the state.
The thugs, who invaded polling units in Southern Ijaw and Sagbama local Government Areas, with heavy gun shots, had hijacked elections materials.
The incident, which happened at about 9am at Agorogbene, unit 6, 7 and 8 in Ward 11 of the Local Government, had the thugs from Southern Ijaw chase away voters and destroy election materials.
Attempts by the electorate to challenge the armed men were replied with heavy gun shots.
Also, around 9am, the armed thugs stormed the RAC centre and carted away election materials for five out of the seven units.
At Olodiama ward 9 in Unit 14 of Southern Ijaw Local Government area, gunmen stormed the unit but were repelled after an emergency call to security men.
Sporadic gunshots were also reported around the Abuja/Imbikiri area of Brass ward 2 and at about 3.30am on Saturday, gunmen suspected to be political thugs attacked the RAC centre in Oginibiri in Brass Ward 8, but they were resisted.
Kogi: INEC staff nabbed with pre-filled result sheets
The Kogi State off-cycle governorship election witnessed pockets of skirmishes in some areas.
The major contenders in the poll were Usman Ododo of All Progressives Congress (APC), Muritala Ajaka of Social Democratic Party (SDP) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)’s Dino Melaye.
Our correspondents report that there was high turnout of voters across the 21 local government areas of the state.
In Lokoja, the state capital, and several other places, voters trooped out as early as 7am to their polling units to exercise their civic duty.
Security was beefed as military personnel and those of other sister security agencies mounted road blocks in strategic places, streets and major highways in the state to curtail criminal activities.
A chopper was seen hovering in Lokoja metropolis and its environs to ensure safety of the voters.
Daily Trust on Sunday gathered that the electoral umpire, the INEC delivered voting materials at appropriate time while voting commenced as scheduled at about 8:30am.
There were reports of technical glitches in uploading results after declaration in some parts of Kogi East senatorial district.
It was learnt that the BVAS machine uploaded about 60 result sheets to the iRev and stopped.
However, an INEC official in Lokoja said there was no cause for alarm as results would be uploaded.
“There is nothing to worry about. There is going to be delay in uploading results; it might take up to six hours to upload,” he said.
INEC staff arrested with pre-filled result sheets
In Ogori Magogo LGA, an electoral official, believed to be an INEC staff, was arrested with a prepared result sheets and cash.
Videos of the incident showing angered voters attempting to lynch the electoral officer but for the presence of security agents, trended on social media.
A chieftain of the SDP in the local government, Desmond Obaro, said the man had been handed over to the security agents for investigation and prosecution.
Civil Society Organisation, YIAGA Africa, candidates of PDP and SDP, Melaye and Ajaka respectively, drew INEC’s attention to pre-filled result sheets in Adavi, Ogori Magogo and Okene local government areas.
They appealed to the electoral body to investigate the issue and bring the perpetrators to book.
In a swift reaction, INEC said its officials were looking into the matter and a decision will be communicated “earnestly”.
“Our attention has been drawn to a report that filled result sheets were discovered in some polling units in Kogi State. The commission views this situation seriously.
“Our senior officials deployed to the state are currently investigating the incident(s). The commission will communicate its decision earnestly,” the commission said in a statement posted on X, formerly Twitter.
Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, and the APC candidate commended the INEC and security operatives for a job well done, urging electorate to maintain law and order for peaceful election.
“The issue of violence in our election in Kogi State is a media creation and figment of the imagination of all those who do not want good things to happen here in Kogi State,” Bello said after casting his ballot.
The PDP candidate, Dino Melaye, according to one of his aides, who preferred not to be named, refused to cast his vote in the election because he was dissatisfied with the conduct of the election.
“He failed to show up at his polling unit to vote, alleging that the election was fraught with irregularities,” the aide said.
Melaye, in a statement he later posted on X, asked the INEC to cancel election in five local government areas of the state.
“INEC must cancel the election in the five local government areas of Kogi-Central. The election in Okene, Okehi, Ajaokuta, Adavi, and Ogori/Mangogo is a scam coordinated from the highest level of INEC,” Melaye said.
Ballot box snatcher gunned down in Kogi East
In Kogi East Senatorial District, one Umoru Iduh in Anyigba, Dekina LGA, who was accused of snatching a ballot box, was gunned down.
The incident happened in a polling unit at Agala-Ogane.
It was not immediately clear whether the political thug was gunned down by the security agents or miscreants.
The election was also marred by vote-buying in some polling units in Lokoja metropolis, Kabba/Bunu and Ijumu in West Senatorial District and at Anyigba, Elubi, Abocho, Ajiolo ojaji, Ejule, Aloma and Idah in East senatorial district. Some areas in the Central Senatorial District were said to have been affected by the same ugly trend.
Jonathan wants off-season elections scrapped
Meanwhile, former President Goodluck Jonathan has called on the National Assembly to enact a law that would end off-season elections in Nigeria.
Jonathan, who voted at Otuoke unit 39, ward 13, Ogbia Local Government Area, said he was worried about the off-season elections in the country.
He explained that if the country continues with the off-season election as contained in the Nigerian constitution, a time may come when even the presidential election would be off-season.
He said that off-season elections are not the global best practices in democracy.