From ROMANUS UGWU, Abuja
For the quick intervention of spirited village leaders, four journalists on election duty at Godoji, Ward 007, Godoji Primary School in Kuje Area Council of FCT would have been lynched by angry youths suspected to be political thugs.
The journalists from the Sun newspaper, FRCN, and Core television who had stormed the rowdy polling centre on election monitoring and tried to talk to the helpless corps members at the mercies of only one unarmed policeman, but incurred the wrath of the hostile youths for having the audacity to find out the cause of the disorderliness.
The situation became more tensed when the youths insisted that the journalists must leave the village, mobilising from 10 to 20 and up to a threatening and intimidating number, brandishing sticks and dangerous weapons, pushing and shoving them until they were chased out of far distance from the polling centre.
With the only unarmed policeman struggling to cope with controlling other rattled troublesome youths, the village leaders, who built a networked hand wall, had to come to the rescue of the journalists, calming and appealing to the rampaging youths bent on smashing their camera and other gadgets to ensure they did not take anything negative out of the place.
Before speeding off from the scene for safety, the journalists had while interacting with Assistant Presiding Officer, a corps member, gathered that what triggered off the crisis was an attempt by a party agent to educate an old woman on how to cast her vote, adding that such gesture did not go down well with certain persons which resulted in the protest.
One of the villagers among those protecting the journalists said: “It was even the presence of you, journalists that charged the atmosphere. This village is always a flashpoint in every election. They have so much to hide because there will always be incidences of underage voting, ballot box snatching and other electoral offences. Please leave the village in your own interest and safety.”
Securing their lives, the journalists had reported the incidence to the Kuje Police station, warning that the lives of the helpless corps members were at a very big risk, which resulted in the standby patrol van heading to the area.
Meanwhile, the failure of the card readers to verify the finger print of the voters, the use of Incident Forms, high illiteracy of the electorates and voters apathy in some polling centres were some of the challenges that characterised the Area Council elections held in Kuje.
Speaking to our correspondent who monitored the election at Chibir Ward 002 in Kuje, an Assistant Presiding Officer, Olumolade Adekunmi, attributed the failure of the card readers to the occupation of the electorates, adding that since most of them are predominantly farmers with think thumbs they had to resort to the use of Incidence Forms.
“The voting commenced by 8.00am and I can assure you that the voters are cooperating very well. In fairness to them, there has not been any form of violence. However, the major challenge we encountered here is the failure of the Card Reader to pick their fingerprints.
“Their thumps are very hard, understandably because of the nature of their occupations as farmers. We have only 2000 registered voters in this ward but the reading of the fingerprint really slowed down the operations here and in most cases where we cannot verify their finger prints, we don’t have other option than to use the Incidence Forms and allow them to vote,” he noted.