James Apam, Kogi Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), on Wednesday decried the widespread electoral violence in Kogi East Senatorial District during the February 23 Presidential/National Assembly elections in the state.
Mr Apam expressed his feeling during a preview of the February 23 polls at a stakeholders’ meeting, preparatory to the March 9, State Assembly and Dekina/Bassa supplementary elections in the state.
He noted that the electoral violence claimed three lives and disrupted elections in over 157 polling units in the senatorial district with 89 units in Dekina/Bassa Federal Constituency alone.
The REC disclosed that a pick-up van loaded with electoral materials was burnt down by thugs in Dekina while in Ogori-Magongo Local Government Area of the stste, eight polling units with card readers and other materials were destroyed.
Mr Apam, therefore, appealed to the electorate and electoral stakeholders in the state to have a change of mind and avoid violence during next Saturday election.
The REC assured that should the card reader be compromised at any polling unit during the Saturday election, results from such unit would be cancelled.
Mr Apam, however, declared the readiness of the commission to conduct the State Assembly and Dekina/Bassa supplementary elections in the state.
He promised that the distribution of materials to local governments in the state would commence on Thursday.
Some stakeholders at the meeting expressed disappointment over some lapses on the part of some INEC officers as well as inadequate security personnel in some cases during the past exercise.
The Secretary of Jama’atul Nasir Islam (JNI), Isah Adeboye, urged traditional and religious leaders to address electoral violence.
He,however,commended the Attah Igala, Ameh-Oboni, for cursing perpetrators of electoral violence in Kogi East.
One of the stakeholders, Omakoji Oyiguh, representing Onu-Igala Lokoja, commended INEC for trying to deepen democratic practice in the country.
The Onu-Igala, however,expressed the need for security agencies to secure lives and property,especially during the elections.
He also expressed concern over the death of three persons during the last polls in Kogi East, including a 300-level student of the university in Anyigba, Daniel Usman.
The traditional ruler attributed the death of the deceased to the failure of security agencies to provide adequate security during the polls in the area.
Hakeem Busari, Commissioner of Police, in the state was represented at the occasion by DCP Operations, Kabiru Gwarzo.
The police boss described most of the complaints by the stakeholders over the February 23, outing as “genuine and true.”
He promised improved security operation in Saturday’s elections in the state and urged the electorate to come out enmasse to exercise their franchise.
“We are trying our best to ensure security of lives and propert during and after the elections,” he said.
On Tuesday, a candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Suleiman Babadoko, also expressed fear over insecurity in his Ward A in Lokoja.
Mr Babadoko,who is seeking reelection into the state House of Assembly, called on the security agencies to increase their presence during and after Saturday’s election in the area.
According to him, increased security presence becomes important, adding that some poeple are planning to disturb peace during the exercise in the Ward.