Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) ha commenced the distribution of sensitive electoral materials to the local government headquarters in Bayelsa, for the governorship election and Kogi State, for the supplementary election.
The Bayelsa State INEC public relations officer, Mr. Timidi Wariowei, speaking to the press on Thursday, December 3, 2015, said the materials that were moved to the council areas included card readers, result sheets and ballot papers.
Wariowei said non-sensitive materials such as the ballot boxes had been sent ahead in order to ensure that accreditation is done on schedule and voting goes on without hitches.
According to him, only materials that would leave at the last minute are the collation result sheets, which may be distributed either today or first thing tomorrow morning under heavy police escort.
On the preparedness of INEC to conduct a hitch-free poll, Wariowei said: “We are not afraid of any hijacking or stealing of the materials as the process is being well policed.”
He said all the agents of the political parties were moving with the materials from one ward to the other to ensure that everything is done transparently.
Wariowei also disclosed that 48 hours before the commencement of voting, INEC was still distributing voters’ cards to the 105 ward headquarters in the state, and that contrary to reports, adequate provisions had been made to ensure that fake ballot papers are not used during the election.
However, final preparations for the election assumed a worrisome dimension yesterday, when a deputy ward chairman of the All Progressives Congress was shot dead by unknown gunmen.
The action caused tension in the state, with the APC accusing the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) of gradually decimating its members in the run up to the election.
The APC, in a statement by Chief Nathan Egba, the director of publicity and media of the Timipre Sylva Campaign Organisation, cried that the PDP was responsible for the killing of Diseye Dickson, deputy ward chairman in Ward 1 in Odi Local Government Area of the state by unidentified gunmen.
Dickson was reportedly killed in Odi community at about 11pm by the gunmen who were allegedly dressed in military uniforms.
While one version of the report claimed that the deceased was shot during a shootout between policemen and the gunmen in a failed kidnapping attempt on Chief Watson Ogoriba, a businessman and the elder brother of a former member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Warman Ogoriba, another version claimed that it was a coordinated attempt to decimate prominent APC leaders at the ward and local government area level in order abandon the field for PDP to have a field day to rig.
But a security operative who craved anonymity, said: “It was a failed kidnapping attempt. It is not about PDP or the APC. When the kidnappers arrived the community, the vigilantes in the area alerted the police at the Kaiama divisional command and they engaged the suspected kidnappers in a shootout. The victim may have been caught in the cross fire.”
The source revealed that aside from the deceased, a woman was also hit in the buttocks by a stray bullet.
But Egba, in his statement, said: “As at this morning, the corpse of Mr. Dickson, was still lying in a pool of his own blood where he was killed. Do note that this is the second killing being carried out by the PDP since the campaigns started.
“Recall that Mr. Andrew June, a ward chairman of our party in Ekeremor LGA was matcheted to death. We condemned this act of desperation by the PDP to continuously attack and intimidate our supporters.
“This killing is wicked, unwarranted and provocative. The APC and the campaign organisation have repeatedly called on the police and other security agencies to step up their patrol to forestall any further attack on the APC members. The killers of these people must not be allowed to go unpunished.”
Meanwhile, voters across the 19 local government areas where the supplementary poll is to be conducted tomorrow in Kogi State have showed apathy to the election, even as INEC started moving sensitive and non-sensitive materials to the 91 polling units where voting will take place.
However, the Resident Electoral Commission (REC) of the state, Mr. Haliru Pai, during an interactive session with stakeholders yesterday, said the commission was prepared to conduct a free, fair and transparent supplementary election, assuring his audience that all materials and men needed for the election had been mobilised.
He added that ad hoc officials had also been recruited and trained while card readers will be deployed in doubles to each polling unit.
The commissioner of police in the state, Mr. Emmanuel Ojukwu, also assured Kogi residents of adequate security during and after the election, adding that ten policemen will be deployed to each of the polling units where voting will take place.
Policemen and other security agents were seen taking positions at the INEC office when vehicles were loaded with INEC materials.