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How Kogi LG poll was marred by violence, irregularities

Few days to the main election, opposition parties announced a boycott due to perceived irregularities witnessed, and accused the electoral officials under the State Independent…

Few days to the main election, opposition parties announced a boycott due to perceived irregularities witnessed, and accused the electoral officials under the State Independent Electoral Commission (SIEC) as well as the PDP of trying to manipulate figures.  Among the allegation was that the PDP in conjunction with SIEC had  been changing electoral officers who were trained and assigned for the election in some local government areas.
Addressing journalists on the issue,   Dino Melaye, said they changed electoral officers at Ijum, Mopamoro and Adavi Dekina Local Government Areas, because they officers will not do their biddings.
He accused the PDP as well as Kogi SIEC of plans to rig the election and called on security agents to ensure credible polls. 
  Melaye and Buba Jibrin, who spoke on behalf of the opposition, told newsmen that they decided not to participate because the state government and SIEC had concluded the election process 24 hours before its commencement.
They said electorate had no idea about where to cast their votes or the location of polling unit across the state as they were not marked.
Other faults, according to them, were that electoral returning officers and polling clerks were PDP card carrying members as against the earlier stand by INEC to use corps members or teachers for the election.
The opposition also alleged that SIEC withdrew election result sheets from sensitive electoral materials that were delivered to all local government   areas in order to write results at the SIEC headquarter in Lokoja.
 Responding to the allegation, the state government and the ruling party denied them and assured that they were ready to conduct free and fair election.
Kogi SIEC through its Commissioner for information,  Adejoh Idachaba,  denied the allegations and said SIEC has no plan to rig the election.
He argued that it is the responsibility of INEC to display voters register and not Kogi SIEC, adding that INEC has already displayed the register in their office.
Weekly Trust gathered that despite the boycott of the election by the opposition party, there were still violence and election malpractices.
A councillorship aspirant and three others persons were allegedly killed during the election, but government sources said only two died.
Adonis Omeh, a councillorship aspirant from Awo Ward 1 in Ojoku District of Ankpa, Ankpa Local Government Area was shot dead  at around 10 pm by unknown gunmen on the night before the election.
Three other persons were allegedly killed on the Election Day at Odu-Ofugo in Dekina and Aloma in Ofu Local Government Areas respectively.
The deceased, one Augustine Ebo and other deceased persons from Dekina were alleged to have been killed during a fight that ensued between their parties’ supporters and those of the ruling party on arguments on whether the election should hold in the area.
John Okpanachi of Ofu Local Government Area, a relation of former governor of the state, Prince Abubakar Audu,  was said to have been shot dead by the police while protesting over the non- availability of some election materials .
On the election day, accreditation of voters commenced early with very low turnout, which was due to the election boycott by the opposition parties.
In most polling units at Lokoja Western senatorial district, there was a heavy security presence and accreditation commenced on time in polling units, but most of them could not accredit up to 100 voters by 12 pm.
Also at the Crowther Memorial College unit 012 in Lokoja, only 39 voters were accredited out of 1,439 registered voters, while in Lokoja Club unit 016, about 50 were accredited out of 1,557.
At Magair polling unit, election materials were said to have been torn by some supporters of the PDP and ACN.
Security personnel at Cinema polling unit in Lokoja, told journalist that they reported at the unit as early as 6am, but  were yet to see electoral officers or materials by 11: 44 am. Weekly Trust learnt that only 12 voters were waiting for accreditation.
In Kabba Area Council at Kogi’s western district, there was crisis between some party supporters in the morning at Ayewa Ward, while accreditation went on well at Oke-Egbe Ward 1 unit 008 at Yagba-West. About 55 voters were accredited at 11:n44 am out of 274 who were registered.
The situation was almost similar in other parts of the state, although the state deputy governor, Yomi Awoniyi, after casting his vote described the election as credible and commended the Kogi SIEC for a job well done.
He described the challenges faced in logistics during the election as normal, but in a swift reaction, the opposition declared that there was no election in the state as claimed by the PDP.
Speaking to journalists, Prince Abubakar Audu, alleged that SIEC would only allocate results to the PDP despite oppositions’ boycott of the election.
He called on his party supporters to be law abiding as they were prepared to pursue the matter through legal means.
When the election was declared, the PDP won the chairmanship seats in the 21 local government areas of the state, while the opposition won 14 councillorship seats at Yagba East, Ibaji, Ijum, Kabba/Bunu Yagba west and Mopamoro Local Government Areas.
Kogi SIEC Chairman, Abraham Olaniran, said the PDP won the chairmanship seats at Adavi, Ajaokuta, Kogi, Lokoja, Yagba East, Ibaji, Yagba West, Ijumu, Ogorimagogo, Mopamoro and Okene Local Government Areas.
Other Local Government Areas won by the PDP were Kabba/Bunu, Olamaboro, Omala, Dekina, Ankpa, Idah, ofu, Bassa, Okehi and Igalamela.
The chairman said the election results were collated at voting units and the local government collation centers in line with the Kogi State electoral laws.
He said candidates with the highest votes were declared winners after the election that was keenly contested.
A political analyst and human right activist, Idris Abdul Milik, said with the result and conduct, the election was a disappointment to the state.
Idris who is the Executive Directive, Centre for Human Rights and Conflict Resolution, said despite several postponements of the local government polls in the state since 2011, the conduct and its outcomes did not meet national and international standards.
“There were late arrivals of electoral materials, while many SIEC’s returning officers were loyalists of the ruling party. More worrisome was the refusal of the electoral body, teleguided by government to declare the result of the election at each polling units or at the ward levels, which is the accepted standard ,” he said
ACN chairman, Alhaji Haddy Ametuo, rejected the election outcome and called it a sham.
Ametuo in a statement said the opposition parties had earlier withdrew from the process following the refusal of the state electoral umpire to address the basic issues that were likely to hamper the election.
“We rejected outrightly the allocation of 14 councillorship seats to the opposition parties by SIEC. It was done as a desperate attempt by the PDP led government to give credibility to the election that was boycotted by larger percentage of people of the state,” he said.
Ametuo described the swearing in ceremony of the newly elected chairmen of the state as a farewell party by a political party that is on its way to wilderness.
He expressed confidence that the opposition would take over both the state and federal level in 2015.
Special Adviser on Media to Kogi governor, Jacob Eddy, said the election did not fall short of credibility saying  if the PDP wins an election; it was rigged in their favour, but if ACN wins any election in the country that election was credible.
He said the PDP in Kogi State has no reason to rig election as they have the majority.

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