The March 18 Governorship and House of Assembly election in Nigeria was characterized by violence, with 28 states participating in the guber election, violence was recorded in some parts. Despite the heightened security and officials deployed to these states as hinted by the Inspector-general of police (IGP) Usman Baba, the election was still marred by violence.
15,000 security personnel including the Police, Army, and other agencies were deployed to monitor the Governorship/House of Assembly election in Oyo state on Saturday. In Kano State, about 18,748 security personnel were deployed across the state.
Also, before the election, the Kwara state Police command said it received some logistics that would aid the job of policemen in the state. The Lagos state commissioner of police, Mr. Idowu Owohunwa, reassured citizens that there will be adequate and massive deployment of Police and all operatives of sister agencies all through the State.
Election Marred By Violence
16 INEC ad-hoc staff were attacked and electoral materials, including ballot boxes, were destroyed at Odoakpu Ward 7, Onitsha South Local Government Area of Anambra State as 19 electoral officers were abducted and later rescued in Imo State. The 20 lives were lost in Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Delta, Benue, Niger, and Osun, just as many people sustained gunshot wounds.
5 feared dead, 1 injured, house razed in Delta. In Delta, five persons reportedly lost their lives at Mosogar and Oghara, in Ethiope West Local Government Area during the polls.
The March 18 gubernatorial election in Lagos was marred by multiple incidents of violence at several polling units. Hoodlums attacked more than one polling unit in Ago Palace Way on Saturday.
Footage from a live television report showed the aftermath of one polling unit attack off Ago Palace way. The attack ruined the voting process, as many ballot papers were already shredded. Eyewitnesses said that the thugs told voters to go home if they were not ready to vote the All Progressives Congress (APC). After curses and threats to life, these thugs snatched and destroyed the voting materials.
Residents of the Ajegunle area of Lagos reported that armed thugs warned them not to come out and vote on Saturday morning. The same armed thugs stormed a polling unit around Wilmer in Ajegunle around midday. Voters shared videos of ballot boxes and ballot papers scattered in the gutter.
Despite the security architecture the Lagos State Police Command and other sister agencies supposedly put in place, sponsored hoodlums overran the state as they unleashed violence on voters and officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
From Surulere to Oshodi, Mile 12, Ejigbo, Bucknor, Oke-Afa, Bolade Oshodi, Surulere, Amuwo Odofin, Berger, Ojo, Agiliti, Ago Palace Way, Okota, Mushin, Igando, Ibeju Lekki, Alimosho, Ijegun, Ijesha, Ikeja, Magodo, Elegushi, Fadeyi, and many other areas, these thugs ran amok unchecked.
Backed by local militia and touts, the hoodlums brutalised and maimed voters who were not out to vote for the All Progressives Congress (APC). While three people were suspected to have been killed in different parts of the state, including a 68-year-old man, who was allegedly killed at a Somolu polling unit, hundreds of others, including celebrities, were brutalised, with their properties destroyed, before they were prevented from voting.
Journalists Had Their Share Of Violence
In the course of undertaking their duty, observers from the Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID) were victims of abuse from various actors. Among other forms of assault, some of them were detained, beaten, threatened, or had their phones seized.
One of the observers, Abiodun Jamiu, was attacked at polling unit 11, Garba Garba ward, of the Bodinga local government in Sokoto State. Also, Richard Ekeke was not spared. He arrived at polling unit 002, Ward 2 of the Esit Eket local government in Akwa Ibom where he observed massive vote buying.
He noted that the INEC officials were also working with the PDP party agent and he took a picture discreetly and left for the next polling unit. Unknown to him, he was not as discreet and he had some party thugs on his tail. As soon as he arrived at polling unit 001, Ward 3 of the Esit Eket LG, he noticed an angry mob charging into the polling unit.
He soon realised that they were after him and they snatched his tag, tore it, snatched his phone and hit it several times with a stick. As Mr Ekeke tried to identify himself, he was barraged with slaps and punches from the angry mob that descended on him.
In Lagos State, reporter Oba Adeoye, cameraman Opeyemi Adenihun and driver Yusuf Hasan, all members of the Arise News crew, came under attack while reporting the election at the Elegushi Palace in Lagos.
In Ogun State, the News Agency of Nigeria (NANS) reported that Adejoke Adeleye, one of its reporters, was among several journalists assaulted in the Itori Odo area of Abeokuta South Local Government Area. The agency also reported that officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) were assaulted, and ballot boxes were destroyed.