Apathy, card reader failures mar Estako by-election

Apathy, card reader failures mar Estako by-election

Saturday, January 28, 2017 7:26 pm


Jethro Ibileke/Benin
Low turnout and malfunctioned card readers characterised the Etsako federal constituency, Edo State, by-election for Saturday, January 28, by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The election which was held in the three local government areas, namely, Etsako west, Etsako central and Etsako east, was very peaceful.
Accreditation of eligible voters, which was immediately followed by voting, began as early as 8 am.
At several voting centres visited between 8 and 11 am, INEC officials who arrived early in the morning, were seen waiting for voters, a situation attributed by some observers to apathy among the electorate.
There were no reports of violence nor electoral malpractice in most of the areas visited as soldiers, anti riot policemen, officials of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC), were deployed to strategic locations to ensure adequate security of lives and property.
Others also blamed the low turn out on an alleged rumour of ‘black market’ court injunction, which spread like wild fire amongst members of the ruling APC, between late Friday night and Saturday morning ring, that the party’s candidate, Mr. Johnson Oghuma, had been substituted with another ‘non identified’ candidate.
Party leaders in the area however dismissed the development as tissues of lie.
Speaking to journalists, some APC, PDP leaders and voters, described the exercise as peaceful and an improvement in previous elections, even as they commended INEC officials and security operatives for their efforts at making the process more successful.
The APC candidate, Mr. Johnson Oghuma, cast his vote at Ward 2, units one to six, located at Obe Primary School, Fugar in Etsako Central, at about 8:15 am, while his PDP counterpart, Jude Imagwe, voted at about 10:57 am at Ward one, unit 9, located at Osime Primary School, Agenebode in Etsako East LGA.
Speaking to journalists, Jude Imagwe who described process as peaceful and an exercise of civic responsibility, however decried the low turnout of voters which he attributed to lack of proper awareness and sensitization by the INEC.
The State Deputy Governor, Philip Shaibu, who voted at Azama Primary School, however said he was impressed by the turnout of voters and that the process was peaceful due to effective security measures adopted by all the security agencies.
He commended the State Commissioner of Ppolice, Mr. Hariru Gwandu and heads of other security outfits for going round the area to monitor the outcome of the exercise.
While speaking on the purported court injunction, Shaibu said “INEC as we know, respects civil orders, so if there is anything like injunction, there would have been no election.”
A former member of the House of Representatives for Etsako constituency, Mr. Abbass Braimah, noted that the turnout was low because it was a by-election. He however thanked INEC officials for coming out early to carry out the exercise, even as he commended security agencies for the peaceful conduct.
On his part, Comrade John Akhigbe and Damian Lawani, said the process was a walkover for the ruling party and expressed appreciation to members of the APC for turning out to vote for the party’s candidate.

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