Vote-buying, ballot snatching mar Kogi bye-election

The bye-election to fill the vacant seat in the Lokoja-Kogi federal constituency which started on a peaceful note on Saturday was later marred by violence, vote-buying and intimidation.

According to NAN, suspected political thugs moved from one polling unit to another to perpetrate fraud.

“Although policemen and other security agents were seen at the police stations, they looked the other way, while thugs terrorised people,” the agency said in a report.

People could not exercise their franchise at a polling unit at Paparanda Square as “thugs” invaded the venue, snatching election materials and beating up people queuing to vote.

The same scenario played out at polling units at Mary Primary School, Karaworo, Adnakolo and Crowther Secondary School, where the exercise was also disrupted.

At Adankolo, some thugs threw stones on people queueing to cast their votes at one of the polling units, chasing them away.

Some of voters who came in their vehicles had their windscreens smashed.

At St. Peter’s Primary School, Felele, voters were seen receiving N2,000 each after being certified to have voted for particular candidates.

Some officials of the Kogi government reportedly moved from one polling unit to another in convoys, accompanied by heavily armed policemen and other security operatives.

Mohammed Haruna, federal commissioner of INEC in charge of Kogi, Niger and Nasarawa states,  has however, said that the election would be cancelled where discrepancies and violence were recorded.

“INEC will review every case of violence, ballot snatching, voter intimidation and vote buying and take appropriate action,’’ he said.

Haruna said the rules guiding conduct of elections in Nigeria were clear, noting that election would be voided at any polling unit where rules had been violated.