AS COLLATION of results for the presidential and National Assembly elections is on-going across the country, Nigerians have already begun to compare notes between the Saturday’s polls and previous elections.
“Could this be the most violent election ever held in Nigeria? The videos I am seeing aren’t funny at all,” said Kelechukwu Iruoma, a journalist.
The 2015 elections were better organised than the 2019 elections, why have we retrogressed instead of making progress? #NigeriaDecides2019
— Ahmad Salkida (@A_Salkida) February 23, 2019
While it appears too early to start comparing the two elections, violence disrupted voting in different parts of the country.
In Rivers State, police confirmed four persons had been killed. Spokesperson for the police in Rivers State, Omoni Nnamdi, told journalists that the victims were murdered by thugs.
Consequently, the Independent National Electoral Commission cancelled elections in Bonny Local Government Area of the state after supporters of All Progressives Congress (APC) prevented INEC from distributing voting materials in the area.
Spokesperson of INEC in Rivers State, Edwin Enabor, also confirmed that voting did not hold in a ward in Okrika Local Government Area because the sensitive materials were diverted.
In Kogi State, police confirmed murder of 19-year-old Daniel Usman by suspected thugs at Ajetachi polling unit in Anyigba, Dekina Gocal Government Area.
In other states, two persons were killed in Ebonyi during clash between supporters of political parties and other two persons were killed in Nembe Local Government Area of Bayelsa.
— TheCable (@thecableng) February 23, 2019
Armed thugs disrupted voting in several parts of Lagos by chasing away voters and destroying electoral materials. The affected areas are believed to be the stronghold of the opposition.
Apart from Salkida, other journalists and observers believed the Saturday’s elections did not meet the expectation of Nigerians.
Mercy Abang, a journalist said, “this democracy doesn’t seem to have progressed – the violence recorded in this election year is disturbing, to say the least. We made progress in 2015, we have retrogressed.
A journalist from South Africa, Julia Silvester who covered the election inRivers reported about how security agents participated in ballot snatching.
“I was been detained inside military van two hours ago in Rivers state because I captured in a video, a scene where government forces did the snatching of ballot boxes. At the spot they shot two Nigerians who tried to confront them. They freed me after they learnt that am a reporter from South Africa. My camera and phone’s memory card were all seized.
“This isn’t an election,” she concluded.
This democracy doesn’t seem to have progressed – the violence recorded in this election year is disturbing to say the least. We made progress in 2015, we have retrogressed. #NigeriaDecides2019
— Khaleesi (@AbangMercy) February 23, 2019
Despite the violence, accreditation and voting did not start on time in most of the polling units across the country.
The ICIR reporters monitoring the process in several parts of the country report that voters queued up in their various polling units as early as 6 am on Saturday but electoral officials did not arrive on time.
The late start of voting forced INEC to extend voting period in all the affected areas. Speaking during a press briefing at the International Conference Centre in Abuja on Saturday, INEC Commissioner for Voter Education, Festus Okoye, said the voting time has been extended beyond 2 pm.
“Based on what I’m seeing out here in Niger, it will be tough to complete voting/collation today,” said Amaka Anku, who Leads Africa coverage for Eurosia Group.
Based on what I’m seeing out here in Niger, it will be tough to complete voting/collation today. #NigeriaDecides2019
— Amaka Anku (@AmakaAnku) February 23, 2019