The atmosphere was charged Saturday evening in Dekina community, headquarters of Dekina Local Government Area of Kogi State, as thugs allegedly loyal to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) invaded the community in an attempt to hijack results sheets for the Dekina Ward.
For more than 30 minutes, the thugs engaged both the police and Dekina community youth who had mobilised weapons to repel them.
Our reporter, among other observers and electoral officers, who were caught up in the fracas, had to lie down in one of the offices at the Independent National Electoral Commission secretariat in the town.
While the crisis lasted, bullets had flown in various directions as people including police officers scampered for safety.
The PDP collation agent for the ward, Obaka James, said the results were already collated and being signed by agents, when gunshot sounds rented the air.
The collation centre, located at the LGEA primary school, directly opposite the community’s police station, was immediately thrown into confusion.
Mr Obaka said; “We know the attackers, they had already operated in the morning and their leader was arrested. But we don’t know how he was released again. Now you can see the problems he is causing. But they don’t know that I have collated result with me.”
He said across eight other local governments in the senatorial districts, collation had been done in most wards.”So, why is ours different? Every time, there must be crisis claiming lives in this place. Is election war?”
Earlier, at about 1:13 a.m. on Saturday, thugs had invaded the registration centre for ward 2 in the local government, which is located at Odu Ofomu community and attacked the electoral officers.
According to one of the victims, Idris Musa, an assistant presiding officer 1, election could not hold in many polling units including Ajiolo Ojayi 1 and 2, Odu Opegele, Ajagumu, Odu Ofoma, Odu Anana, Odu Osiele, among others.
He said a car, generators, ballot boxes and card readers were carted away.
Mr Musa said: “As soon as they came we ran into the bush. They went away with 17 ballot boxes and yet-to-be-known number of card readers.”
Also speaking on behalf of the 33 affected electoral officers, Jibrin Shaibu, an assistant presiding officer 3, said an unnamed supervisory presiding officer who was supposed to pay them had not been seen since morning.
The 33 electoral officers, who had converged on the INEC office in Dekina to protest the disappearance of the SPO who was meant to pay them, said they would not leave the secretariat until their allowances were fully paid.
As at the time of filing this report at about 7:30p.m, a convoy of vans belonging to security operatives including soldiers, policemen and men of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps were spotted filing into Dekina Community, guiding buses conveying electoral officials and materials from other words.
Collation of results could not hold across many polling units as the threat of violence enveloped everywhere.
Tyres were burnt by rampaging thugs on major roads in some of the communities including Ayingba, Ajipome, Odu, among others.