From John Adams, Minna
Ballot box snatching, thuggery are the order of the day as violence has marred the Saturday’s by-election for Magama/ Rijau House of Representatives election in Niger state.
The epic centers of the violence are Ibeto in Magama local government and parts of Rijau in Rijau local government areas where youths suspected to be supporters of both All Progressive Congress (APC) and People Democratic (PDP) are said to be actively involved in the violence.
The thugs practically invaded the polling stations in Ibeto town, snatching ballot boxes and other election materials. Some men in vigilante and police uniform were seen taking part in the ballot box snatching.
It was learnt that the thugs went round the eight wards in Ibeto town wielding sticks and cudgels thereby scaring away eligible voters that have turned out to cast their ballots in the election.
The story is not different in some of the polling units in Rijau where some thugs, as early as 7:00am, took over these polling units, disallowing voters from casting their votes.
The Resident Electoral Commissioner in the state Professor Sam Egwu who is one of the three Commissioners monitoring the election, said he had directed the Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of operation to deployed armed policemen to Ibeto to restore peace law and order.
Egwu who spoke on telephone described the development as ” Sad” but promised that ” The situation will be brought to normalcy for the process to commence again”
According to him, “I have escalated the situation to the police since. In fact security threat analysis on the part of the police gave indications of what is going on”.
Reports from other areas indicate that election materials were distributed on time with voting commencing at 8.30am as expected.
Three political parties ADC, PDP and APGA are slugging it out for the single House of Representatives seat.
The APC whose thugs are said to be involved in the violence has been disqualified from taking part in the election by the courts .