Thugs working for politicians yesterday prevented many registered voters from voting in the rerun election that held in the state. The armed thugs allegedly took over polling units, turning back supporters or agents of opponents.
Rerun election was slated in polling units spread across 28 local government areas in the state after the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared the March 3 governorship election held in the state inconclusive.
The candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Abba Kabir Yusuf, was leading in the inconclusive election with a margin of over 26,000 votes after polling 1,014,477 votes, while Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) got 987,810 votes.
Over 120,000 voters were to participate in the rescheduled poll yesterday. There were reports of incidences where hoodlums took over some polling units, preventing registered voters from exercising their civic rights.
Our correspondents observed that in Gama ward of Nasarawa Local Government, which has over 40,000 voters, thousands of weapon-carrying hoodlums, majority of them wearing the APC agents’ tag, took over the polling units, forcing the PDP supporters into hiding.
A resident, Ya’u Alhaji Gama, told Daily Trust on Sunday that the hoodlums that took over the streets were brought in to intimidate residents. “I swear to God, all these people you are seeing are not from this area, they are only here to cause mayhem,” he said.
Reports from the state on the eve of the election quoted residents as saying that thugs were being brought into the state in droves by politicians planning to use them to rig the poll.
Residents of Gama claimed they saw strange faces in the area from the time of morning prayer. They said the strangers later took over the polling units in Gama, brandishing weapons and unleashing terror.
“It is not possible to identify yourself as a PDP member here, not to talk of an agent. You can’t hang any PDP tag here,” a Gama resident said.
Pressmen were not spared the harassment as thugs attempted to lynch journalists under the umbrella of state’s Correspondent Chapel who were at Suntulma Primary School polling unit, Gama ward, to cover the exercise.
A correspondent of The Authority newspaper, Mr Madu-Jerry Buchi, was rescued by security personnel after the hoodlums threatened to attack him for taking pictures.
At Masaka polling unit in Dala Local Government Area, three people were reportedly injured in a clash involving supporters of the ruling party and the opposition PDP.
It was gathered that voting was made impossible for supporters of the opposition PDP as armed thugs harassed anyone showing sympathy for the party.
A PDP supporter who insisted on voting for the party, Dahiru Sa’ad, was attacked causing him to lose two teeth.
Policemen present at the polling unit did nothing to save the situation. A police officer, who declined to give his name, told our correspondents that they could not interfere because they were not carrying arms.
At Nahadatu polling unit in Gwammaja ward, there were fears of a likely clash due to massive infiltration of hired thugs into the voting point.
At Takai Local Government Area, there were reports of the presence of heavily armed political thugs who disrupted the election in favour of the ruling party.
An observer who identified himself as Dr Babaye Liman said he saw over 500 armed thugs snatching ballot boxes as well as ballot papers.
The situation was the same at Minjibir, where voters complained of intimidation from unknown thugs who came into the town from other places.
Thugs attack 2 commissioners
However, the commissioners for information and finance in the state, Malam Muhammad Garba and Alhaji Aminu Dan-Amu, allegedly came under attack by thugs suspected to be supporters of the PDP.
The suspected thugs allegedly molested the information commissioner at Yalwa polling unit in Dala Local Government and smashed his vehicle’s windscreen.
His counterpart of the finance ministry, Dan-Amu, was allegedly attacked at Dogon-Nama polling unit in the same Dala Local Government.
Also said to have been attacked was APC’s elder, Alhaji Liti Kul-Kul, who was trailed to his family house and assaulted.
Confirming the incident, the information commissioner said: “I was personally attacked by PDP thugs at Yalwa polling unit and the windscreen of my car was smashed.
“I am sure the attack emanated from the pronouncement of the Kwankwasiyya leader, Senator Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso, who said all PDP members are agents and security men.
“This is the danger of such statements, especially by leaders. We have Kwankwaso on tape urging his supporters to be agents and security men at polling units. This is wrong and unacceptable,” he said.
The PDP, however, dissociated its members from the attack on the two commissioners and the APC elder.
Speaking to Daily Trust on Sunday, Alhaji Sanusi Bature Dawakin Tofa, the spokesperson of the PDP gubernatorial candidate said their supporters were peace- loving people; hence they could not attack anybody.
“We only came out during the rerun election to protect ballot boxes and ensure that each vote counts. Our people did not attack anybody during the election. We neither attacked any commissioner nor identified anybody as target for attack during the election. We are peace-loving citizens,” he said.
Cancel Kano rerun poll – PDP
Meanwhile, the PDP has called for the immediate cancellation of the resrun election in the state. In a press briefing, the acting chairman of the party in Kano, Alhaji Rabiu Suleiman Bichi, described the exercise as a charade, saying, “What we have in Kano is nothing but sham.”
The chairman accused the APC of mobilising thugs to take over all the 280 polling units in the state.
“As I address you now, we have reports that some of our agents have been killed, vehicles burnt, property destroyed in Doguwa, Nasarawa, Minjibir, Dala and Tudun Wada local government areas. These, with other infractions, made us to completely lose faith in the whole exercise, and therefore, call on the INEC to cancel these elections,” Bichi said.
The PDP headquarters also called for the cancelation of the supplementary election over what it termed the disruption of polls and bloodletting.
In a statement yesterday by its national publicity secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, the PDP said all material facts on the rerun poll in the state showed that “rampaging APC thugs violently took over polling units, attacked and chased away voters and engaged in massive thumb-printing and ballot stuffing.
“The INEC is already aware that the police arrested the Kano State commissioner for special duties, Muktar Yakasai, alongside APC thugs he led to disrupt election in Yelwa in Dala Local Government Area of the state.
“Also, the INEC is already aware of how APC thugs attacked voters in polling units in Gama area, during which four PDP members were feared killed and many more injured before they carted away ballot boxes for stuffing for the APC.
“The PDP cautions the INEC to note that in this circumstance, any result they come out with from this convoluted electoral process will be a sham and will surely be rejected by the people of Kano State.
“It is completely reprehensible that the APC and Governor Abdullahi Ganduje would resort to violence and bloodletting as a means to attempt to hold on to power after they have been rejected by the people.
“The PDP, therefore, charges the INEC to save the nation from crisis by cancelling the Kano supplementary election, as failure to do so is not in the best interest of our dear nation,” the PDP stated.
Kano rerun peaceful – Police
The Deputy Inspector General of Police, Mr Micheal Anthony Obizi, has described Kano rerun election as peaceful.
Obizi, who was deployed to Kano for the purpose of the rerun poll, said the election recorded minor violence.
He explained that the reports on various social media platforms were purported by some elements in order to cause chaos in the state.
“We have arrested only 10 people for various election offences and they will be charged to court as soon as we finish investigation. So, as far as police are concerned, the election is peaceful,” he said.
He said there was no report of death from the affected 24 local governments where the rerun election was conducted.
On the alleged taking over of the some polling units by thugs, Obizi said: “If it is true that some thugs took over some polling units, how did INEC find its way to bring election materials and officials to the polling units?”
The DIG assured that police would maintain its ground in protecting the lives and property of the Nigerian citizens.
He said there was no cause for alarm as far as security was concerned, adding that everything was going smoothly.
Similarly, a coalition of foreign and domestic election observers has described the just concluded rerun election in Kano State as peaceful.
Addressing a press conference, leader of the coalition, Chinyere Manukwem, said even though there were violence at few polling units in Dala and Gama, the rerun poll was generally peaceful.
Manukwem also expressed satisfaction with the level of security arrangement during the poll.
The Kano State police command has confirmed the arrest of 74 suspected political thugs over various election offences.
Confirming the arrest, the police public relations officer in the state, DSP Haruna Abdullahi, said the suspects were arrested at various polling units where the rerun election held. He said the thugs were arrested for ballot box snatching, unlawful possession of Parmanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) and public disturbance, among other offences.
Abdullahi said the suspects would be charged to court as soon as police finished investigation.
In Sokoto State, Governor Aminu Tambuwal relocated to Kuchi town in Kebbe Local Government Area for the supplementary election.
Kuchi, which has the highest number of cancelled votes in the last governorship election in the state, is one of the areas where the rerun election took place.
The governor was said to have relocated to the area in the early hours of Saturday.
There was massive deployment of security forces in the area, our correspondent reported.
It was a herculean task controlling crowd in some polling units that witnessed massive turnout of voters for the election in Sokoto metropolis.
There was chaos at Rijiyar Danfarijo Magajin Gari ‘B’ ward 009 in Sokoto North Local Government Area following an alleged display of thumb-printed ballot papers by PDP stalwarts, which was opposed by APC supporters.
Police had to fire teargas to restore order.
In Jos, the capital of Plateau State, there was rowdiness and a short altercation between security agents and youths at polling unit 027, Unguwan Abuja, Tudun Wada II in Jos North Local Government Area when mobile police officers attempted to disperse youths from the voting area.
Our correspondent, who was at the polling unit, observed that the youths insisted that they were, by law, allowed to wait till the end of collation as long as they were orderly. The polling unit had 1,297 registered voters.
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