Voters in Kogi state will on Saturday elect a new governor for the 24-year old state.
The voters have options of 22 candidates, but the most popular candidates are Abubakar Audu, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, and Idris Wada, candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party.
While Mr. Wada is the incumbent, Mr Abubakar was governor of the state between 1999 and 2003.
PREMIUM TIMES reporters, Josiah Oluwole and Hassan Adebayo are on ground in the state and would provide live updates of events from the state.
Voting has ended at PU 12 Crowther Memorial College, Ward A, Lokoja. Counting of votes is about to begin.
Calm returns to Wada’s unit – Odu Ogboyaga 001, Odu Ward, Dekina LGA.
More copies incident form have been made available for details of those who failed biometric authentication. Also, we observed card readers are now working well. The Polling Officer had earlier promised Mr. Wada the machines would be fixed.
Yet, accrediation exercise is still on going, with more than 100 persons still on the queue.
However, at the neigbouring unit – Odu-Ogbaloto, voting has begun. Those who had voted said the exercise started 1.30pm.
At polling unit 006, Adankolo Primary School, Lokoja, Suleiman Abubakar, an agent of the APC alleges that the PDP agents are sharing money at the polling centre. Security agents on the ground are intervening. However, voting is in progress, peacefully.
Voting started in some Units in Lokoja. This is Crowther Memorial unit
At Ajikpome open space polling unit, Odu Ward 2, Dekina LGA, there are more than 300 voters still awaiting accreditation.
“But they are eager to vote and they have been calm,” an observer from INEC, who identified herself as Sefiya, said.
According to the Polling Officer, two factors caused the delay.
First, one of the two card readers was not working initially. “But it was later fixed and the two are not working very well now,” the PO said.
“Then, we are under staffed here,” she complained. “We don’t see other assistant presiding officers.”
She also expressed fear that there could be nobody to “man the voting point when voting starts.”
Fuel Tanker Crash, Hazard Scooping
A fuel Tanker crash into a mechanic workshop in Ajaokuta, while trying to avoid a broken down truck in the middle of the expressway.
The tanker which is loaded with PMS is leaking out while some youths around the area took out time to collect the leaking fuel.
A car belonging to the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, ran into the situation and seized the opportunity to refuel from the scooped petroleum product.
The vehicle quickly zoomed off as it got enough to continue its journey, leaving the small community to the imminent danger of an explosion.
Voter Apathy In Smart Adeyemi’s Town
There was low turn out of voters at Iyara, in Ijumu Local Government Area, where Smart Adeyemi comes from.
Residents attributed it to the fact that none of the major contenders had serious following in the area.
However, accreditation which closed some minutes ago, was peaceful and card reader problems were minimal and made little impact.
According to observers across wards in Kogi Kotonkarfe LGA, accreditation is still on going.
One of the observers, Rahman Ibrahim, said accreditation would end when the last person on the queue undergoes the process.
The observers said the exercise has been “peaceful”, “hitch free” and “credible”.
On the card readers, one observer said it had functioning well.
“But it is slow in some areas,” another one added.
At polling unit 002 Karaworo South, Lokoja, with 1660 registered voters, accreditation is over. Accreditation is also over in most units in Lokoja.
Ita-Aja 1 polling unit, Anyigba, Dekina LGA. Just five persons left on the queue for accreditation. The situation is calm. Voters said the card reader did not malfunction. The Polling Officer said “all the card readers worked very well.”
He said the voting will start 1.30pm.
So far, in Dekina LGA, PREMIUM TIMES observed that many voters failed biometric accreditation.
In such situation, INEC procedure requires that Polling Officers enter details of those who fail into incident form and they would be allowed to vote once they are electronically accredited by card reader and PVC.
However, in all the Polling units visited, only one incident form was provided per unit. Therefore, officials have to resort to using papers to enter voters’ details.
Olofu open space polling unit 012, Anyigba, Dekina LGA. Accreditation still on going. The polling officer complained of biometric authentication failure for many voters. There is just one incident form. But the PO said sheet of paper was used to get details of those who failed biometric accreditation.
Money changing Hands
The ugly practice of financial inducements at polling units surfaced on Saturday as political parties secretly dole out currency notes to potential voters.
Premium Times observed a party official at Unit 001, Ganaja Ward 14, Ajaokuta, mustering funds for inward distribution.
The same incident was witnessed at Ganaja Unit 009, where the two major parties, APC and PDP were trying to outdo each other in money distribution.
Wada fails Card Reader accreditation
At Polling Unit 021 Achai/Dogo street Adankolo, Lokoja, with 1389 registered voters, accreditation is in progress seamlessly.
At Family Health Centre Adankolo polling unit 5, Lokoja. Accreditation of more than one thousand voters is in progress at the moment. Security agents are on the ground, and there is no incident.
Odu Ogboyaga 001 unit, Odu Ward, Dekina LGA. This is Governor Wada’s polling unit. Accreditation exercise has been hitch free like other places.
At 10.56 a.m. Mr. Wada is still being expected for accreditation.
At Odu-Ogbaloto unit, Ward 1, Dekina LGA, Patrick Shaibu, a PDP stalwart in the area, said the “only problem we are having is that the card reader machine is slow.
“Also, it can’t read some voters’ fingerprints but there is just one incident form here.”
The Polling Officer, a female Youth Corp member, confirmed Mr. Shaibu’s claims.
She said the card reader is “not very slow…just normal issue really.”
The incident forms for those who failed biometric accreditation have been used up.
The Polling Officer said an order was been given to “get a sheet of paper for those whose fingerprints can not be authenticated.”
Odu-Ogbaloto Polling Unit, Ward 1, Dekina LGA. “The situation is encouraging; no problem,” a teacher said. The teacher added he would not mention his name because “this is a political situation” and “I don’t want anybody to witch-haunt me.”
Meanwhile this is the first polling unit in Dekina where police officials are sighted. They stand by the road, without interference in the process.
“if the situation continues like this, the election is well and credible,” a voter, Jacob Awodi said.
Tension in Ganaja As Card Readers Close Accreditation
“Accreditation closed” is the reading of some card readers at Ganaja Unit 009, when fingers are placed on them for accreditation.
The polling unit which has seven voting points with 3773 registered voters is famed for violence.
As voters express frustration, the electoral officers are working hard to fix the problem.
“We have been here since morning and we have not accredited one person with the card reader because it will read the card but when you place your finger, it will say ‘accreditation closed,’ Bako Abraham, Assistant Presiding Officer in charge of Voting Point 1, said.
“We have called our supervisors, and they said they are sending an engineer, when that will be we don’t know.”
He said the incident form is the alternative but because almost every body might have to fill the for,, the unit might run out of the paper.
Voting point 4 is also witnessing the same problem, but waiting voters complained that the machine was tampered with and needed to be urgently fixed.
Meanwhile a good number of voters are sitting idle waiting until the machines begin to work again.
The apprehension is that given the history of the unit, officials are not certain if the voters will continue to be patient.
Ajiyolo-Ojaji Polling Unit 1 and Odu Ward 2, Dekina LGA. Accreditation is on going. Like other polling units so far visited in Dekina LGA, security officials are not on ground to monitor the process. However, the process is going on smoothly and voters expressed satisfaction.
In Ogbabo polling unit 1 and 2, Alobi ward, Ofu LGA, accreditation is on going and the turn out is high.
Barack 1, 2 and 3 polling units, Abocho ward, Dekina LGA. Accreditation on going. The situation here is calm, even with no security official present.
Contrary to the declaration of the Police that the military will have no role in the elections, military personnel were seen on Saturday mounting road blocks in Lokoja, the state capital. The personnel who were armed naval officials restricted movements and conducted searches as some motorists tried to make their way through the streets. Deputy Inspector General of Police, Leroy Sotonye, said on Friday that the military will only be called in only when there is an overwhelming security challenge.
Distribution of kits and electoral materials started about 7:20 a.m. at INEC headquarters on Marine road. Vehicles carrying electoral personnel are moving to different local government areas.
As observed by Situation Room the previous day, there are indications that welfare of security personnel deployed is not properly taken care of. Two of the police officers deployed to Dekina LGA, Idris Wada’s LGA, were complaining over poor welfare.
“Oga you say make we go but nothing for bele?” one of the officers asked INEC staff leading the team to Dekina.
Card Reader Malfunction
Barely an hour into the accreditation exercise in the Kogi governorship election, some card reader machines have started malfunctioning.
At Polling Unit 015, Ward A in Lokoja, the electoral officers are having a hard task as one of the card readers won’t recognize finger prints.
The Presiding Officer had put a call through to the operation room for a replacement.
But voters on queue were restless for a while but officials efforts to calm frayed nerves paid off. Accreditation however went on slowly.
At Polling unit 012, ward A, card readers are selecting the fingers they would identity making the process slow.
The problem of finger print recognition is widespread, and the affected persons had to fill the incident forms.
“There’s security lock down in my local government” – Gov Wada
Peoples Democratic Party candidate, Idris Wada, has raised alarm over alleged “security lock down” in his Dekina Local Government Area.
Mr. Wada spoke through his Communications Manager, Phrank Shaibu.
“There is security lock down in Dekina Local Government since 5am by soldiers,” he said.
”Voters can’t go out neither can our party agents move. There are also cases of missing result sheets as identified by few of our agents that could find their way to INEC office in Dekina….The polling unit where the result sheets are missing is Ajetachi opposite Abochi Aji house and the polling unit of The DG of Audu’s campaign.”
Mr. Wada had alleged on Friday that a military officer, Isidore Amah, was deployed to Dekina LGA to “harass and intimidate” voters and work for the All Progressives Congress.
Kogi State governorship election has commenced in earnest as accreditation of voters began at 8am in parts of Lokoja, the State capital.
Turnout is encouraging but it is too early to predict as voters are still walking into the polling stations.
Audu, Wada, 20 other candidates in race for Governor
The Kogi governorship election slated for today (Saturday) is underway, with 21 candidates and their political parties vying to take over power and the Government House in the state.
There would have been 22 candidates, but the candidate of the African Democratic Congress, ADC, Zainab Usman, announced her withdrawal from the contest on Friday night.
Ms. Usman, the only female in the race, withdrew and then asked her supporters to vote for the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Abubakar Audu.
Withdrawing on the eve of the election when it was too late to alter election materials, her name would definitely remain on the ballot paper as voters go to the polls.
Although two candidates are prominent, namely Idris Wada of the Peoples Democratic Party and Abubakar Audu of the All Progressives Congress, other parties such as the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, Accord and 18 others have registered their names on the list of contestants for the coveted office.
While the two leading parties had profound rallies and campaigned throughout the 21 local governments and 239 wards of the state, the other parties managed outings barely noticed by the generality of the citizenry.
The Independent National Electoral Commission in the state has put the number of registered voters in the state at 1,397,786.
With 4,548 polling units across the state, there would be over 31,836 policemen manning the units if the words of the Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase is anything to go by.
The police boss had promised that each polling units would be manned by seven police officers, besides personnel of other security agencies also expected to be on duty.
The governorship candidates and their political parties are as follows:
Isah Yakubu Kamaldeen, AA
Dickson F. Fred, Accord
Ukenya Musa, ACD
Michael Abdullahi, AD
Usman Zainab, ADC
Odufu Cosmas Friday, APA
Abubakar Audu, APC
Akwu Umar Goodman, APGA
Yinka Cherry Oloruntoba, CPP
Philips Ezekiel Koleola, DPC
Abubakar Ibrahim, DPP
Ibrahim Adejoh, ID
Raji Ogirima KOWA
Philips Omeiza Ozovehe Salawu, LP
Mohammed Ibrahim Dangana, NCP Mallam Abdul Hussein, NNPP
Emmanuel Daikwo, PDC
Idris Ichalla Wada, PDP
Emmanuel Enesi Ozigi, PPA
Ojuh Godwin Hussein, PPN
Enema Paul, SDP
Saád Mukailu Yaro, UDP
Female candidate withdraws for Audu
The candidate of the African Democratic Congress, in Saturday’s governorship election in Kogi State, Zainab Usman, has announced her withdrawal from the contest. Ms. Usman, the only female in the race, withdrew to pitch her tent with the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Abubakar Audu, according to a statement she signed on Friday. Mr. Audu is the only candidate that can take the state to the promise land, Ms. Usman said. She said the only visible developments in the state were put in place by Mr. Audu between 1999 and 2003 when he served as Governor. She added, ” the successive regimes of the Peoples Democratic Party, have failed woefully in spite of the huge resources at their disposal. “(Therefore) I decided to dump my ambition and support Audu to move the state forward and continue from where he stopped in 2003. “I have thus direct all my supporters to go out and vote en masse for the APC and Prince Audu tomorrow.”
How presidency, APC plans to rig Kogi governorship poll — PDP
The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, says the President Muhammadu Buhari-led APC government has pulled in partisan military operatives to assist it in rigging Saturday’s Kogi state governorship election, “instead of allowing the forces to concentrate on their statutory role of providing peripheral security during elections”.
The party said “intelligence” information available to it shows that some compromised military personnel led by a senior officer of the rank of a Colonel have been detailed by the Presidency to carry out specific assignments in support of APC candidate in the election.
The National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Olisa Metuh, in a statement on Friday, said the development was not only a recipe to civil disorder but also a clear invitation to total disruption of free and fair polls in the state if not immediately checked.
Mr. Metuh said, “Available intelligence shows that the deployment to Kogi state, of the Army Colonel, who is a known APC sympathizer is part of the fallout of last week’s secret meeting coordinated by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), where orders were issued to clamp-down on PDP members and supporters to pave way for some pliable INEC officials to manipulate the election in favour of the APC.
“Compromised troops have already been detailed to Dekina Local Government Area, the largest PDP stronghold in the state and home of Governor Idris Wada, where they have been instructed to create panic, strong-arm PDP supporters, frighten and scare away voters, ostensibly to deprive the our party of its expected large votes from the area.
“We are also aware of how the head of Security of APC candidate’s Campaign Organization, a retired Army General, is coordinating the movement of partisan security operatives into other key local governments, including Igalamela, Ofu, Ankpa and Idah, to harass and frighten PDP supporters and provide a leeway for the APC to manipulate the election.
“The PDP also has information of the copious involvement of a retired police officer, who is working with some men of the Directorate of Security Services (DSS) in providing illegal arms, vehicles and cover for APC thugs who have been positioned to attack PDP supporters during the election.
“We find it absolutely shocking that President Muhammadu Buhari-led APC government, a huge beneficiary of free, fair and credible election conducted by the PDP, would so early in the day, seek to corrupt the electoral system and willfully attempt to subvert the will of the people.
“The PDP however notes that no amount of force and intimidation can bend the will of the Kogi people from appropriately exercising their franchise and using every means within the law to protect their mandate.
“While we charge our members and the entire people of Kogi state to remain vigilant and continue to assert their constitutional rights and liberty, we also call on the security forces to note that their duty is primarily to the nation and its citizens, and as such must ensure that they do not become tools in the hands of anti-democratic forces seeking to truncate our democracy.”
Police uncovers plans to import thugs, arms for Kogi governorship poll
The Police said on Friday said it has uncovered plots by some unknown persons to “smuggle in” thugs and ammunitions with the intention to disrupt Saturday’s governorship election in Kogi State.
The Deputy Inspector General of Police in charge of Operations, Leroy Sotonye, who disclosed this while briefing journalists in Lokoja, the state capital, also said travellers going through the state would be restricted, screened and properly searched in order to forestall breakdown of law and order during the poll.
The police chief spoke as the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party and governor of the state, Idris Wada, alleged that one of the parties, the All Progressives Congress, had concluded plans to manipulate the election.
Mr. Sotonye, who was briefing journalists on the rules of the election, urged travellers to either postpone their journeys, seek alternatives routes or go by flight in order to avoid the inconveniences that might be experienced on Election Day.
“If you know you are going to travel through Kogi State, you are advised to either postpone, suspend the trip, go by flight or take alternative routes because you will be stopped by the police,” Mr. Sotonye said.
“We have intelligence that some people are trying to smuggle in thugs and ammunitions and all sorts of things.
“You will be screened and searched. It will be a distraction to the police and we don’t want to be distracted.”
The DIG warned politicians and troublemakers to stay away from polling units and election area as the police were prepared to deal with offenders during and after elections.
According to him, “Our officers have been asked to use their phones to take pictures and videos of incidences so that such persons can be apprehended even after the election,” the police boss stated.
“If we cannot arrest the culprits immediately, we can use the pictures to arrest them after the election and provide evidences to the Election Petitions Tribunal.”
Mr. Sotonye said funds had been provided for police personnel involved in covering the election and deployment of the personnel had commenced in different locations.
He said the allowances would be paid into their accounts as soon as the full details of the list of personnel were ascertained.
He however noted that some of them might not receive the alerts until Monday because banks would not operate fully on Friday.
The police chief urged the electorate to be peaceful before and after casting their votes, warning those who had no business with the elections to stay at home.
PDP ACCUSES APC OF PLANS TO RIG
Addressing journalists in the office of the state deputy governor’s office on Friday, Phrank Shaibu, the Chief Communication Manager to Mr. Wada, claimed the PDP had uncovered a plot by the APC and its candidate, Abubakar Audu, to use military officers and thugs to “harass and intimidate” voters.
He also alleged that some electoral personnel had been compromised to ensure victory for the APC on Saturday.
According to Mr. Shaibu, a military officer in the rank of Lt. Colonel was deployed to Dekina Local Government Area, to “work in cahoot with the APC to intimidate and harass voters.” Mr. Wada hails from Dekina LGA.
Mr. Shaibu further said the officer “is an experienced election contractor” with a history of “collaborating” with Mr. Audu.
“INEC PERSONNEL COMPROMISED”
Mr. Shaibu also alleged that some personnel of the Independent National Electoral Commission had been compromised by the opposition APC.
“We have uncovered acts of inducement and bribery by our challengers to compensate electoral officers,” he said.
He said the Electoral Officer for Kogi Local Government Area, Chris Utile, on Thursday afternoon, dropped 40 trained ad hoc staff for new ones brought in two buses from Benue State.
“The (new) persons in question did not go through any training whatsoever. The changes were made Thursday afternoon,” he said.Mr. Sahibu expressed regret that, “all these things are happening under President Muhamadu Buhari who became President in an election conducted under PDP government.”
However, he vowed that, “we shall not lie docile and allow desperate elements to truncate the wish of the people.”
When contacted, Mr. Utile told PREMIUM TIMES denied that he changed the staff of the Commission. “I don’t even have that power, he said, adding “the list of my trainees is there for everybody to see. They should come and point to who is new in the list.”
The Resident Electoral Commissioner, Haliru Kpai, promised to investigate the allegations “that concern INEC.”
Kogi Elections: Observer group raises concerns over police deployment, welfare
The Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room observing the governorship election in Kogi State has expressed concerns over the welfare of security personnel deployed for the election.
It also feared that the huge security deployment could become a state-motivated instrument for voter intimidation in Saturday’s election.
In its preliminary statement on the election on Friday, the organisation said it was hopeful that security operatives would conduct themselves responsibly and adhere to civil and responsible terms of engagement under the rule of law.
The Deputy Inspector General of Police, in charge of Operations in the Kogi election, Mr. Leroy Sotonye, had earlier clarified that police authorities had made funds available for allowances of its personnel deployed for the election.
The statement signed by Obo Effanga, on behalf of the 29 civil society organisations, noted that voters were highly mobilized and motivated to cast their votes on the Election Day.
“The Situation Room however hopes that, drawing from its experiences in previous elections, that this deployment, would not lead to state inspired voter and process intimidation and suppression,” the statement said.
“The Situation Room also expresses concern about the arrangements made for the welfare of tens of thousands of armed security personnel drawn from other parts of the country.
“We have noted so far, that like in previous elections, there seems to be scant regard for the overall wellbeing and welfare of these officers of the state.”
The Situation Room however noted that it was reasonably satisfied with the deployment and conduct so far of the security personnel to the state to ensure a safe, secure and peaceful election tomorrow.
It also observed that the electoral environment is charged and that there had been various allegations across the aisle on plans to rig the election.
The group noted the developments and called on all stakeholders, especially political parties to approach the election with responsibility and utmost respect of democratic standards as they could not afford to fail Nigerians.
“The Situation Room nonetheless urges the State Government to assure the electorate of their personal safety and urges voters to go out and peacefully cast their vote,” the statement read.
“The Situation Room calls on INEC in its role as the EMB (Election Management Body) to fully acknowledge and make special arrangements for people with disabilities, the elderly and nursing mothers to help them exercise their franchise. This can be effected by giving specific instructions to INEC officials at the voting units.
“The Situation Room especially urges the digital public to be discerning in their reading of social media reports as experiences have shown that some of the reports may be replete with deliberate falsehood aimed at misleading the public.
“Finally, the Situation Room calls on all stakeholders in the election process to live up to the expectation of Nigerians and especially calls on INEC to deliver free, fair and credible elections in Kogi State.”
Policemen were seen at the police command headquarters being deployed to their various locations for the election.
Trucks were overloaded with police personnel suggesting there might be serious logistical problems.
Majority of them were still waiting at the command to be conveyed to their respective destinations.
Army has no role in covering election – Police DIG
The Deputy Inspector General of Police deployed to oversee security for Saturday’s governorship election in Kogi state, Leroy Sotonye, has said the Army would not be involved in providing security for the poll. “They will have no role in the election, unless I invite them when the law enforcement is unable to curtail the challenges, ” Mr. Sotonye told journalists in Lokoja on Friday. The DIG is leading the security formations for the Kogi governorship election.
Police battle-ready to bring troublemakers to book — Police Commissioner
The Kogi State Police Commissioner, Emmanuel Ojukwu, said on Friday that the military would be available to play its “constitutional role” in providing adequate security in Saturday’s governorship election in the state.
He said while speaking to PREMIUM TIMES on the phone that his command had deployed “enough” police personnel to man all polling units and strategic places to ensure the election went undisrupted on Saturday.
“The military will be there to play its constitutional role,” Mr. Ojuwkwu said.
“We have enough men to man all the polling units and relevant places to ensure law and order on Saturday.”
He also warned trouble makers to stay away on Election Day as the security agencies would not hesitate to bring them to account for their actions in line with the law.
“Politicians must not approach the election as a do-or die-affair,” he said.
“It is expected to play the game according to the rules. Losers always will have another day to win.
“For troublemakers, everyday they say is for the thief, but here, everyday is for law and order.
“The operation is led by the DIG and anybody who commits any offense will be dealt with according to the law.”
Kogi Governorship Poll: PDP alleges APC’s deployment of 15,000 Osun APC members to rig election
The Osun State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, on Thursday alleged that Governor Rauf Aregbesola, was planning to deploy 15,000 persons to Kogi State with the intent of rigging the elections in favour of the All Progressives Congress. A statement on Thursday by the party’s spokesperson, Diran Odeyemi, said the plot was to use voters from Osun State who are APC members to garner votes for Abubakar Audu in Saturday’s election. The statement said 15,000 APC members from Osun State had been mobilized and would be deployed to the different local government areas in the state, particularly those where Mr. Audu is popular. “We want the Inspector General of Police, IGP, Mr. Solomon Arase and the Director General of the Department of the State Security, DSS, Mr Kifasi to immediately act on this information and prevent the move by Osun governor to storm Kogi with APC members from Osun,” the statement said. “We want to recall the arrest of some APC members from Osun state led by the Senior Special Assistant to Governor Aregbesola on Inter Governmental Affairs, Mr. Waheed Lawal, on the eve of the 2014 Anambra state governorship poll by the eagle-eyed men of DSS in Imo state enroute Anambra state. “It should not also be forgotten the role played by Aregbesola in the failed efforts to unseat Governor Segun Mimiko in 2002 Ondo governorship poll and his financial efforts to return Dr. Kayode Fayemi to office as Ekiti state governor for another term last year June.” The PDP called on President Muhammadu Buhari to impress it on security agencies not to be partisan in the discharge of their duties , adding that the gains recorded since the return of democracy in 1999 should not be allowed to be rubbished by a few persons in power. The party also called on eligible voters and stakeholder’s in Kogi state to be vigilant and report any suspicious person to law enforcement agents.