From John Adams, Minna
Ballot box snatching, thuggery marred yesterday’s by-election for Magama/Rijau House of Representatives bye-election in Niger State.
The epicentre of the violence was Ibeto in Magama and parts of Rijau in Rijau local government areas, where youths suspected to be supporters of both the All Progressives Congress (APC) and People’s Democratic (PDP) were said to have been 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 uniforms 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 turned out to cast their ballots in the election. The story was not different in some of the polling units in Rijau where some thugs, as early as 7:00am, took over the polling units, disallowing voters from casting their votes.
The situation prompted the Resident Electoral Commissioner in the state, Professor Sam Egwu, who is one of the three commissioners monitoring the election, to direct the Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of operation to deploy armed policemen to Ibeto to restore peace, law and order.
When spoke with Sunday Sun on the phone, Egwu described the development as “sad” noting that the situation was brought under control for the process to commence again.
Reports from other areas indicated that election materials were distributed on time while voting commenced at 8.30am as expected.
Three political parties ADC, PDP and APGA slugged it out for the single House of Representatives seat. The APC whose thugs are said to be involved in the violence was disqualified from taking part in the election by the courts.