From Priscilla Ediare, Ado-Ekiti, Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has announced the suspension of the Ekiti East State Constituency I by-election indefinitely.
INEC, in a situation report on Saturday signed by the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Dr Tella Adeniran, stated that the decision is a result of the violence that erupted while the election was ongoing, with attacks on voters, election officials and security personnel
The electoral commission noted that the Saturday by-election started at 8:30 am and witnessed a hundred per cent opening of polls at 8:30 am.
‘The exercise commenced on a good note in a peaceful and orderly manner. However, at about 10:00 am there were reported cases of violence:
‘In two (2) PUs of ward 09 (Obadore IV); polling unit 8 (Baba Egbe house/Odouro/Odoule) & polling unit 9 (Beside Baba Egbe/Odouru/Odoule) i. Polling unit 07 (Aro street/Aro) of ward 07 (Obadore lI).
‘In PU 07, ward 07 three (3) voters were shot dead while a youth Corper, a policewoman and an INEC staff sustained gunshot wounds.
‘Under this circumstance, the safety of electoral officials, security personnel and election materials, as well as the credibility of the process, cannot be guaranteed,’ the statement read.
The REC noted that the State Commissioner of Police is fully aware of the situation.
‘It is unfortunate that in spite of the effort of the Commission in giving Nigerians free, fair, credible and inclusive election, some people appear to be unprepared for an improved electoral process.
‘The situation is such that a conducive environment no longer exists for further electoral activity at the PUs and the collation centres.
‘In view of this development, the Commission has suspended the election forthwith,’ the situation report. added.
The National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee
Festus Okoye, in a statement regarding the election-related violence, noted that continuing with the process will amount to rewarding bad behaviour.
While announcing that the situation is unacceptable in line with its avowed commitment to electoral integrity, the Commission said that it has not only suspended the election indefinitely but that security agencies have commenced an investigation.
The statement reads:
‘The Commission has received a report from the Resident Electoral Commissioner for Ekiti State that the by-election to fill the vacancy for the Ekiti East 1 State Constituency holding today, has been disrupted by violent attacks on voters, election officials and security personnel.
‘The Commission made adequate arrangements for the election. Personnel and materials arrived on time in all the 39 Polling Units spread across five Wards of the Constituency for the 23,670 registered voters to exercise their franchise in a free and fair process.
‘However, no sooner had voting commenced than unidentified gunmen unleashed mayhem at some Polling Units, thereby disrupting the process.
‘Unfortunately, some innocent voters were shot dead, while a policeman, some INEC regular and ad hoc staff who sustained gunshot injuries during the melee are receiving medical attention.
‘This situation is unacceptable. In its avowed commitment to electoral integrity, the Commission has suspended the election indefinitely. To continue with the process will amount to rewarding bad behaviour.
‘The security agencies are aware of this unfortunate situation and have commenced an investigation. The Commission commiserates with the innocent victims of this dastardly act and affront to our democracy.’