- * As Party Thugs Unleash Violence, Prevent Them From Voting
'They Chased Us Out With Canes, Flogged Us', Alleges Female Electorate
Non-Yoruba Voters Allegedly Discriminated Against
By Julius Oritse (Lagos State Correspondent)
Some residents of Lagos State have expressed fear about going to their various polling units to exercise their civil responsibilities during today’s gubernatorial election.
A couple of residents in Ikorodu, Ejigbo, LASU Road, Ajah who spoke with our correspondent, explained that they are scared about their safety, especially following the incidents that followed the outcome of the 25 February presidential election.
An Igbo female voter, a die-hard Obedient, who resides at Agboroko area of LASU/Iba/Igando area, told our correspondent this morning in an SOS (Save Our Soul) message, that voters like her were manhandled and chased away from casting their votes at a polling unit located at the open space within Agboroko Village 1 called Polling Unit: 24-17-05-014 by Agboroko shrine.
She said the voting unit is in Iba area (near 1st gate bus stop) Ojo, Lagos State. She stated that "They are not allowing none indigenes to vote. They have chased away the polling agents of other political parties except the APC agents".
This lady who does not want her name to be mentioned in our report for fear of being identified in the area and attacked by the ubiquitous political thugs, however revealed that no voting took place in that polling unit and voters fled for their lives and were watching developments from the safe corners of their homes or from a distance.
She also disclosed to our correspondent that she had contacted both the Police and the Army authorities in the area through their official dedicated contacts to inform them about what was going on but they couldn't do anything, instead, they promised to intervene, which, she said, they never did.
Her words: "With what has happened today at our polling unit and in so many other polling centers all over Lagos, there is no way a credible election result will be declared by INEC because voter turn out was too insignificant because of obvious threats, attacks and violence against innocent voters, particularly non-yoruba voters. Even those yoruba people who are not willing to vote a particular party that claims lordship of the state were also being molested. This is not going to be like the presidential poll".
Field reports from the Lagos election however indicate that non-yoruba voters from the South East and South South Zones resident in Lagos and who are often referred to as Igbos, seem to be having a raw deal in the hands of alleged election thugs. These armed thugs were seen going around polling units today to threaten, harass and in some cases, physically attack the non indigenes who are not ready to vote for the ruling party in the state.
They (thugs) were indiscriminately and impudently shouting to anyone that cared to listen, warning that: “If you no fit vote APC, no come outside oo. This one no be like last time oo,”.
For instance, in Ojodu part of Lagos, thugs were reportedly sighted, moving inside three coaster buses and wearing masks. They allegedly went from one polling unit to another, driving away intending voters they considered not supporters of a particular party.
A lady in tears who chose to remain anonymous for security reasons, narrated how she was pounced on by the thugs in her polling unit, preventing her from casting her vote for her preferred candidate. At another polling unit in the same area, another intending voter was slapped by thugs and driven away because they suspected he was not an APC supporter.
A career driver in an adjacent polling unit by name Ayo (not real name), showed our correspondent a head injury he sustained from trying to rescue an Igbo lady who was attacked by some of the thugs. “This is not fair, I am a full fledged Yoruba man but those thugs hit me on the head just because I tried to stop them from attacking an Igbo lady who had lined up to cast her vote. Look at my head (he pointed at the wound). Is this an election? People should feel free to vote for their preferred candidates. But with a situation like this, we are no longer in democracy,” he narrated.
Investigations by this paper reveal that same violent situation occurred in most parts of Lagos. A source in Alimosho area which accounts for the largest number of potential voters in Lagos State, revealed that thugs were moving from house to house, warning people who were not ready to vote for APC not to venture to step out of their homes.
In the highbrow Victoria Garden City (VGC), INEC officials were said to have moved all the polling units outside the estate, unlike the usual practice whereby voting was carried out within the estate. When asked for explanations for moving out the polling units, an INEC official simply said, “It’s an order from the Local Government Council”.
The Frontier reports that the turn out of voters in Lagos today has been abysmally low due to fear of harassment by thugs. The Frontier had reported the threat issued against Igbos by the Lagos State Parks Management Committee Chairman, Musiliu Akinsanya popularly known as MC Oluomo.
Addressing supporters of the ruling APC at a meeting, MC Oluomo threatened Igbos who would not vote for APC to stay at home. “We have begged them. If they don’t want to vote for us, it is not a fight. Tell them, Mama Chukwudi, if you don’t want to vote for us, sit down at home. Sit down at home,” he said in the video. MC Oluomo withdrew his statement after it triggered a nationwide outrage.
Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar had condemned the silence of President Muhammadu Buhari and the President-Elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
The Lagos State Commissioner of Police, CP Idowu Owohunwa, also ordered the Cybercrimes Unit of the Command to commence immediate and comprehensive investigation into the incident.
However, as the current development in the Lagos gubernatorial and State House Assembly elections continue to generate concern, Mr Yinka Agbolade, a resident of Ejigbo, Lagos, revealed that he would rather stay at home and channel his time to other activities.
He said: “Well for me it’s fairly obvious who is going to win. Added with the people at INEC who will do everything to push their favourite party forward with the violence again, it’s maddening.”
From the Ikorodu axis of Lagos State, Immaculate Ndubuisi’s experience during the presidential election was enough to discourage her from coming out for the gubernatorial event..
“I am not sure I will be stepping out to vote today because I don’t have strength to run. I saw things during the last election that I am not sure I want to witness again, so let me just remain where I know I am safe today,” the young lady explained.
An electorate who resides around LASU, Iyana-Iba area of the State told our correspondent that she nearly had High Blood Pressure after racing all the way home without casting her vote during the presidential election.
Mrs. Fagbegbe said: “My poling unit in Akesan was so scary, we were intimidated by thugs and were unable to even cast our votes.
“I only stepped out to vote because my husband in church asked the congregation to beg me to go out and vote, but what I experienced that day, I will rather stay in my house and let the will of God prevail.”
Although some residents confirmed their interest in coming out to vote, they still feel concerned about their well-being.
Darlington from Ajah said that: “This is my obligation, so definitely we will go all out for it, and hope for a better experience today in terms of stronger security and well organized INEC Officials.”
Meanwhile, some angry voters in Lagos have lamented that the were being beaten and chased out of the polling units with canes by some group of hired disorderly boys.
An electorate cried out and alleging that voters were manhandled at their polling units in Falana Street, Ejigbo, Lagos State.
The Twitter user with the name @_Chinaza2, revealed that men bearing cans came to chase everyone out if they weren’t voting for APC.
“I am presently at my house now because we were chased out of the polling unit in Falana Street, Ejigbo, Lagos. They brought canes and they chased everybody out. They said if we were not voting for APC, we should go back to our homes. They literally said that. I’m going to post a video now to corroborate my story, right now.”
In the following viral video, Thugs were seen chasing electorate and shouting on top of their voices.
“Everybody ‘Ita’ (outside), e naa won legba (Flog them).” (additional reports from voiceofnaija and centurypost). NNL.