Suspected political thugs disrupted Saturday’s Presidential and National Assembly elections in parts of Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports.
The affected polling units included Ward 5 Unit 43 Elelenwo and Ward Nine Unit Three, Rumueme, both in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area.
The suspected thugs, who some voters described as “vigilantes” stormed Ward 9, Unit 3 Rumeme, around 4.20 p.m. in two Toyota Sienna buses.
They commandeered the electoral officers and the materials into the vehicles and zoomed off as the unarmed security personnel at the polling unit watched helplessly.
Earlier, a voter in the unit, Samuel Uzochukwu, told NAN that he and his wife had been at the polling station since morning waiting for INEC officials, who arrived late.
According to him, the BVAS machines the officials came with were only functioning for a short time before they were rectified.
“The exercise is a sham; we have been here since morning and it’s now 3.53 p.m. and only 40 persons have been accredited and we have over 2000 voters here as you can see,” he said.
Another voter, Emma Ajoku, said he came out to vote but was disappointed that he could not vote at almost 4 p.m.
“They started at 11a.m. and said one BVAS was not functioning and up till now few persons have been accredited,” she said.
At Ward Five Unit 43 Elelenwo, some suspected thugs snatched the ballot boxes before the votes cast could be counted by INEC officials.
A voter, Johnson Woka, said the hoodlums came into the polling unit, chased away voters waiting for their votes to be countered and made away with the ballot boxes.
“When the political thugs came to the centre, they insisted that the votes would be counted at the Registration Area Centre (RAC) and some voters protested.
“We told them that what they are demanding contradicts INEC processes that state that votes should be counted at the polling units.
“They proceeded to the Presiding Officer and the lone police officer and said they had agreed to move the ballot boxes to the RAC which we knew was not true,” he said.
Another voter, who gave her name as Cynthia said the thugs also harassed some voters who had attempted to resist them.
“One of the political thugs even smashed an iPhone belonging to a lady who was alleged to be filming them when they raided the centre,” she added.
In Unit 20, Ward 10, Obio/Akpo LGA, all the voters were frustrated as they were disenfranchised because the BVAS did not function while the INEC officials left the polling station in the company of some policemen.
Some of the voters, Grace Ogar and Austin Omoko, said they were frustrated as no one cast his/her votes.
The Supervisory Presiding Officer (SPO), Isaac Okpiri, said, “as you can see everywhere is charged and everybody is tensed up. I can’t say anything again.”
A voter in Ward Ward 10, Unit 21, Faith Mark, said she did not vote due to the malfunctioning of the BVAS machines deployed to the unit.
“They called out only 100 names. Some military men arrived and the INEC officials left with them,” she said.
Another voter, Ifeanyichukwu Nsuofor, expressed sadness for being disenfranchised, saying the three BVAS machines in the units were not functional. (NAN)
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