From Priscilla Ediare, Ado-Ekiti
Political thugs on Saturday invaded a polling unit in Omuo-Ekiti, Ekiti State, during the House of Assembly by-election in Ekiti East constituency I conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), killing three persons.
Two police officers, an officer of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), a National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) member and a Presiding Officer, and another individual, were also shot during the crisis and are now in critical condition at the hospital.
Among those that were killed were Bola Adebisi (50), and Tunde Ogunleye (35).
The elected position became vacant following the death of an All Progressives Congress (APC) lawmaker in the state House of Assembly, Hon Juwa Adegbuyi.
The election was barely two hours in progress when the violence erupted, forcing voters, INEC officials and security agents to scamper to safety.
The senator representing Ekiti South Senatorial District, Mrs Biodun Olujimi, said she narrowly escaped being shot when political thugs invaded her polling unit at Ward 7 Unit 007 and the federal lawmaker had to be ferried out by party supporters.
Besides the shootings and killings, there were also reported cases of ballot snatching in Ward 9 unit 008 of the constituency.
Recounting how the crisis was triggered at her unit, Mrs Olujimi said the election started peacefully before some APC thugs and compromised police officers started disrupting the voting process.
‘The leaders of the APC came to the polling unit, in fact, we greeted them warmly. After they left, some APC thugs who stayed behind pulled out guns and started shooting sporadically. This is the first time we would witness this. They picked the ballot box and ran away.
‘A man died as he was trying to escape the scene. The policewoman guarding the ballot box was also shot in the head. The Corps member and Presiding Officer at the unit were hit by bullets. In totality, eight people were shot. Some dead and five are battling with their lives in the hospital receiving treatment,’ she lamented.
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Olujimi accused the leaders of the APC of being the masterminds behind the violent attack, saying they mobilised people from all over the state for the election taking place in just five wards.
A member of the House of Representatives and a native of the town, Hon Femi Bamisile, described the shooting as appalling and unbelievable, saying no election is worth the blood of any Nigerian.
‘In any election where people are being lost, that is no longer democracy. APC was fully prepared for this election and canvassed for votes and we never wanted to kill anybody. I really don’t understand how it happened. I didn’t want to believe that it was our party. The election started peacefully; what could have erupted shootings and killings?,’ he asked.
Regretting the extreme show of brutal force by political goons, the PDP candidate in the election, Mr Akinrinade Adeniran, said the violence began on Friday night when his house and cars were allegedly riddled with bullets.
‘They invaded my compound on Friday and smashed my cars’ windscreens with gunshots. They also shot at the roof of my building. This is no longer a democracy. Democracy is the government of the people and the people should be allowed to make their choices through their votes,’ he said.
A statement by police spokesman ASP Sunday Abutu confirmed that six persons were shot.
‘Today, some hoodlums attacked Ward 7, Unit 7 during the House of Assembly by-election. In the process, six people were injured, among them were two policemen and one National Youths Service Corps (NYSC) member who is currently receiving treatment in Ikole General Hospital.’
Abutu said the state Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi, has given a directive that all the suspects involved must be apprehended and brought to book.