Judex Okoro, Calabar
About two people have allegedly been shut as violence erupted during the Cross River northern senatorial primary election which held today, September 5.
Delegates and journalists were also teargassed and harassed as armed security men at the Ogoja council Secretariat.
Over 200 armed policemen had encircled the venue of the elections, with one of the armed men declaring: ‘This is war and we are under instructions to shoot. Leave this venue.’
The two people shot by gunfire have been identified as delegates from Yala Local Government, who were protesting their exclusion from the list by electoral officials.
One of the victims, Cannis Ebiamu, the Chairman of Wanihem ward in Yala, was reportedly rushed to a hospital at Nka in Benue State for treatment
The delegates, numbering over hundred, were seen at the gate of the venue of the primary insisting that they be allowed to enter to perform their civic duty.
In an attempt to push back the crowd, the security operatives shot teargas sporadically into the air.
The journalists, who were on part of the NUJ Monitoring Team, were stopped at the entrance of the venue.
When they had tried to identify themselves, the stern-looking policemen reportedly turned a deaf ear and shot teargass canisters in front the eight reporters.
Fearing that their lives were in danger, the journalists scampered for safety and took refuge in an apartment directly opposite the local government secretariat where they were later rescued by the same security men after they presumably realised their mistake.
Reacting to the incident, the Cross River State Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Victor Udu, who lead the delegation, deplored the mayhem that characterised the excercise.
‘I have not seen anything near this scale before where the security men refuse to recognise anybody, even when journalists identified themselves with their tags.
‘The security men said they were out on a missio. It’s a shame. It’s deplorable that in a senatorial by-election things could degenerate to this level. It’s indeed unfortunate and a shame to our democracy.
‘The policeman pointed a gun at journalists and said every other person is an enemy and immediately opened teargas on us and only God saved us.
‘Next time we have this kind of excercise, or during the excercise and i hear or see that my members are being threatened then we will take it up with Nigeria Police,’ he said.
Also condemning the violence, the two sensational aspirants in the primary, Dr Mrs Mary Iji and Chief Marthina Odom, described it as ‘inhuman and alien to Cross River politics.’