Following the report that suspected ballot box snatchers burnt down an office of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Osun State, PREMIUM TIMES on Sunday visited the office to investigate the incident.
The attack occurred at about 3 a.m. on Sunday at Ijebu Ijesa in Oriade Local Government Area of the state.
PREMIUM TIMES on Sunday morning reported how the Director of Voters’ Education in the state, Venerable Ojewande, said the attack only affected INEC officials.
“Some hoodlums actually attacked our officials. You know after collation at polling units, materials will be taken to the local collation centre. It was when they were transporting it that they were attacked,” he said.
“The results had already been collated and declared for the House of Reps. They were going for collation of the senatorial and presidential election results when they were attacked at the entrance.”
Mr Ojewande said “no electoral material was touched. The INEC building was not touched.”
He said nobody was killed but some were injured.
At Ijebu Ijesa where the incident occurred, our correspondent observed several marks left by bullets on the wall. There were also burnt ballot boxes, ballot papers and generator amongst other properties used for the election.
A corps member who spoke with our correspondent but asked not to be named for fear of victimisation said the disruption was made easy by the absence of security operatives.
“We heard the sound of guns in the midnight. Some thugs came in with all sorts of weapons to attack us. No police or any other security operatives were around to stop them.”
“While all these were going on, we all tried to escape and that was how many of us got injured.”
Another witness told our correspondent that: “The thugs carried the generator and place it alongside our election materials. They fired their gun at different walls and burnt the materials. The police came about five minutes after the thugs left”, he said.
He showed this reporter the bullet marks on the walls of the INEC office.”
Despite the facts, police spokesperson in the state, Sade Odoro, maintained that the incident did not occur.
“Where did you get your information? Nothing of such happened. It was only a generator and an empty box of non-sensitive materials that got burnt,” she said.
When this reporter told her he spotted damages done to the walls by guns, she said: “You believe an observer than you believe the police. Can an observer investigate the matter? Even if there is a fire incident, can an observer indicate it?”
The police spokesperson would not speak on allegations that there were no security operatives at the office when the incident occurred.