Gunmen have reportedly invaded polling units in some areas of Southern Nigeria, shooting and hijacking election materials as the country conducts Off Season Elections in three states.
The electoral umpire, Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC said that over half a million voters collected their permanent voter cards to vote in the polls. This was despite cases of insecurity including abductions by gunmen in some areas.
In Imo and Bayelsa states, sitting governors, Douye Diri and Hope Uzodimma, are seeking re-election. 18 candidates are looking forward to succeeding incumbent Governor Yahaya Bello in Kogi State. The electoral umpire has assured that the challenge posed by gunmen and insecurity will not have any adverse significant impact on the election process.
Witnesses said gunmen went on a shooting spree in Southern Ijaw and Sagbama local Government Areas of Bayelsa State.
The thugs reportedly first struck at Agorogbene units 6, 7, and 8 in Ward 11 of Southern Ijaw where they allegedly destroyed election materials.
Attempts by some voters to challenge the gunmen were replied with heavy gunshots.
The armed thugs also reportedly attacked the Registration Area Center and carried away election materials from five out of the seven polling units.
At Ogiadiama Ward 9 in Unit 14 of the Southern Ijaw Local Government area, gunmen stormed the unit but were chased away by the military.
Gunshots were also heard around the Abuja/Imbikiri area of Brass Ward 2. Thugs also reportedly attacked the RAC center in Oginibiri in Brass Ward 8.
Earlier, Nigeria’s electoral umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) confirmed the abduction of one of its officials in the same state.
Mr Wilfred Ifogah, Head of Voter Education and Publicity at INEC Headquarters in Yenagoa in the South-South state of Bayelsa said that a Supervisory Presiding Officer (SPO) assigned to Registration Area – 06 (Ossioma) in Sagbama Local Government Area of the state was snatched away on Friday.
He said the unnamed official was abducted by gunmen while waiting to board a boat to his area of assignment at Amassoma Jetty.
Ifogah also said that a boat carrying electoral personnel to Registration Area 17 (Koluama) in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area, capsized, but the 12 personnel and the boat operator were rescued unhurt.