No fewer than three persons were feared dead in Omuo Ekiti, Ekiti East Local Government Area of Ekiti State, during the House of Assembly bye-election into the vacant Ekiti East constituency 1 Assembly seat.
Eyewitnesses said that the peaceful conduct of the election was suddenly disrupted at noon when hoodlums invaded the polling centres to snatch ballot boxes.
Those who sustained varied degree of gunshot wounds, the witnesses said, were rushed to the Methodist hospital, and General hospital, Omuo Ekiti, while others were moved to facilities outside of the town.
Senator Abiodun Olujimi of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), representing Ekiti South Senatorial District, who is a native of the town, was one of those who escaped death when suspected hoodlums invaded the community to snatch ballot boxes.
Olujimi, who later addressed newsmen at the Omuo Ekti Divisional police headquarters, said she narrowly escaped being shot by political thugs who invaded her polling unit at Ward 7 Unit 007 and was ferried out of the polling unit by party supporters.
She said besides shootings and killings, there were also reported cases of ballot snatching in Ward 9 Unit 008 in the constituency .
Recounting the incident in her unit, Olujimi said that the election started peacefully ” before some hoodlums disrupted the voting process”.
“The leaders of APC came to the polling unit, in fact we greeted warmly . After they left, some APC thugs who stayed behind pulled out guns and started shooting sporadically. This is the first time we would witness this. They picked the ballot box and ran away .
“A man died as he was trying to escape the scene. The policewoman guarding the ballot box was also shot in the head. The corps member and Presiding officer at the unit were hit by bullets.
” In totality, eight people were shot. Some dead and five are battling with their lives in the hospital receiving treatments”, she lamented.
Also, a member of House of Representatives who is also a native of the town, Mr Femi Bamisile, described the shooting as appalling and unbelievable.
He said no election was worth the blood of any Nigerian, and absolved his party of complicity in the attack and disruption of the election process. “APC did not know anything about the attack.
“In any election where people are being shot, is no longer democracy. APC was fully prepared for this election and canvassed for votes and we never wanted to kill anybody
” I really don’t understand how it happened. I don’t want to believe that it was our party. Election started peacefully what could have erupted shootings and killings?”, he asked.
The PDP candidate in the election, Mr Akinrinade Adeniran , said a signal of war started manifesting on Friday night, when his house and cars were allegedly riddled with bullets.
“They invaded my compound on Friday and smashed my car’s windscreens with gunshots. They also shot at the roof of my building .
” This is no longer democracy. Democracy is the government of the people and the people should be allowed to make their choices through their votes”.
However, a statement by the Police Public Relations Officer , ASP Sunday Abutu, confirmed that only six persons were shot.
“Today, some hoodlums attacked Ward 7 Unit 7 during the House of Assembly bye-election.
” In the process, six people were injured, among them were two policemen and one National Youths Service Corps NYSC) member who are currently receiving treatment in Ikole General Hospital”.
Abutu said the State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, has however, given a directive that all the suspects involved must be apprehended and brought to book”,
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Ekiti East Constituency 1 seat became vacant following the death of an All Progressives Congress lawmaker in the State House of Assembly, the late Mr Juwa Adegbuyi.