Pockets of violence and ballot box snatching characterised Saturday’s local government elections that held across 16 local governments and 177 Registration Areas in Ekiti State.
One person whose identity could not be ascertained was reportedly shot dead by suspected political thugs at Ikere Ekiti, while four others were seriously injured.
A witness confirmed to journalists that the gun-wielding thugs invaded a polling unit at Okitiko in Araromi area of Ikere Ekiti and shot sporadically thereby disrupting the poll in the unit.
“Apart from the man that was shot, about four people were wounded and the SIEC officials had to take to their heels,” the witness said.
“The boys came to snatch the ballot and when they were resisted, they started shooting one person was killed in the process.”
Four others who were said to have sustained injuries have been taken to the hospital for medical attention.
PREMIUM TIMES gathered that there was voter intimidation and ballot snatching at Ajiboye Hall, Unit 6, Ward 7, where hoodlums reportedly chased away voters with guns and other dangerous weapons before carting away ballot papers and result sheets.
One of the polling officials who would not want to be named said a young man came shooting and threatening to kill her if she refused to drop the unused ballot papers and other materials.
She also said the policeman deployed to the unit also had to flee for his life before calling for help from his superiors.
“The man came with a gun and declared that the election was over,” she said.
“The voters ran away and the security manning the unit.
“He kept threatening to shoot me if I refused to drop the remaining ballot papers. We had used about 200 and what was left was about 600.
“For fear of my life I had to drop them, so he collected the unused ballot papers, the stamps, the ink and the result sheets.
“Everything was scattered and there is no election in the unit.”
The police Public Relations Officer, Ekiti Command, Sunday Abutu, said he had not been briefed on the development.
The election also witnessed poor turn out of voters, even as the restriction of movement order was not enforced.
Commercial activities were in full swing in major towns in the state, while commercial motorcyclists made quick businesses, plying various routes in the towns.
There was general voter apathy during the election. For instance, at Ijero, St. Stephens Primary School, the PU witnessed poor turnout so that at 10am, only one person had come out to vote.
Some of the officials believe that the situation might have been due to poor mobilisation and enlightenment by the respective political parties.
The Speaker of the Ekiti State House of Assembly, Funminiyi Afuye, who voted at St Johns Primary School in Ikere Ekiti, blamed the opposition for the low turnout, saying it is weak.
He also described the local government election as peaceful and devoid of actions that could truncate free and fair outcome.
“Though the turnout was a little bit low, but it was peaceful. The reason could not have been unconnected with the impression by the People’s Democratic Party that the All Progressives Congress will win all the seats, but Governor Kayode Fayemi believes in democracy and allows free and fair process.
“Unlike in the past when local government elections were like wars, this one is free and fair, we don’t believe in violence. If you have something to showcase, you have no reason to be violent.
“The Low turnout was a clear testimony that the opposition is very weak and about the impression that the ruling party will win. Governor Fayemi wants democracy to prevail and on that, we stand.”
Reacting to the outcome of the election, the PDP chairman in Ekiti, Gboyega Oguntuase, said the election was marred by violence given the information at his disposal.
“It is not fair, as I speak with you, it is believed that they have shot one person dead as one or two persons received gun shots,” he said.
“In ikole local government, the number of boxes that were to go to Ijesa Isu, Odo Oro, ward 4 in Ikole, all of them were reduced. Where the boxes were, nobody could account for them.
“That is a clear case of ballot stuffing. In Ise Orun, very early in the morning, they unleashed terror on PDP people, seized all the ballot boxes from the units. The same thing applies to Emure and Ekiti East.”
He said the PDP would not accept the results of the election because of the irregularities already witnessed.
“We warned them earlier. We told them that we might not have a free and fair election with the calibre of people they put at SIEC and with the nature of APC, Mr Oguntuase added.
“See what they did in Kogi and Bayelsa for instance. They cannot tolerate true democracy.”