Two journalists covering the ongoing governorship poll in Edo State have been molested by thugs.
The incident took place at the polling unit of the immediate past national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole, at Ward 10 (Uzairue North East), Polling Unit 1 of Etsako West local government in Iyamho area of Uzairue.
A PREMIUM TIMES journalist, Samson Adenekan, was slapped, manhandled and then briefly detained by the thugs for allegedly taking pictures and videos.
Mr Adenekan said he was trying to capture an ongoing voter inducement at the centre before him and one other reporter was accosted by the thugs about an hour after Mr Oshiomhole cast his vote.
PREMIUM TIMES earlier reported how agents of the two major political parties- the APC and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) – were found buying votes in the ongoing governorship election in Edo State.
A Premium Times Centre For Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ) observer who witnessed the situation explained that while vote-buying was going on in some polling units, party agents in other polling units were coercing the aged to vote their preferred candidates.
“They surrounded me and asked I should give them my phone. One big black guy landed two heavy slaps on my cheeks and up till now, I cannot feel my cheeks. They seized my phone insisting that I must delete the pictures,” Mr Adenekan explained. “They said I would not leave the place alive if I did not delete the shots.”
The journalist said police officers stationed at the centre watched without raising as much as a finger as the attack ensued. “I eventually deleted the pictures and was allowed to leave after someone I know from the APC secretariat in Abuja intervened.”
Mr Adenekan reports on the APC for PREMIUM TIMES.
Mr Adenkan said he believes the thugs were working for the APC as he heard them saying, “do you know where you are? This is not a PDP stronghold.”
The other journalist, Nathaniel Offel, covering the election for GeeTV, suffered a starker ordeal as he initially refused to delete the pictures in his phone.
“He was beaten mercilessly. One of the thugs hit him with a big chair on the back twice”, said Mr Adenekan, who also witnessed the incident. “His phone was smashed; his clothes torn and he sustained a lot of injuries from the attack.”
The incident occurred inside Iyamho Primary School where the polling unit is located.
There have been reports of pockets of violence in the elections.
INEC, the election umpire, earlier today, said it was aware of a shooting incident in Orhionmwon local government of Edo State, vowing to bring all electoral offenders to justice.
According to the Guardian Newspaper, the Chairman of the Commission, Mahmood Yakubu, stated this in his preliminary address at the “Edo Governorship Election Virtual Situation Control Room” which was held through Zoom.
Mr Yakubu noted that the commission had also received images showing the alleged hijack of electoral materials in Ward 9, Unit 15 of Egor local government in the state.
He said INEC might be forced to take decisive action against results generated from the affected unit.
Meanwhile, the Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, has won the election in his polling unit 19 Emokpae model primary school, Oredo Local Government Area.
The result announced Saturday afternoon by the INEC presiding officer showed that Mr Obaseki of the PDP polled 184 votes, while Osagie Ize-Iyamu of the APC scored 62 votes.
Mr Ize-Iyamu also won his polling unit 26, Ward 5, Iguododo, Orhionmwon Local Government Area.
The result showed that Mr Ize-Iyamu of the APC scored 292 votes while Mr Obaseki of the PDP scored 21 votes.
Although 14 parties are taking part in the Edo governorship election, it is believed to be a two-horse race between Mr Obaseki and Mr Ize-Iyamu.