#CRSDecides2023: How Thugs Attacked INEC Ogoja Office, Disrupt Collation

In Breaking News, Politics

By Our Reporters

Thugs suspected to be loyal to the All Progressives Congress, APC, on Sunday morning disrupted the collation of results at the Area Office of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, in Ogoja Local Government Area.

The collation of results from the Registration Areas for the State Assembly and Gubernatorial polls commenced at about 11:00 PM on Saturday night with that of Urban Ward 2 called first by the collation officer, Dr. Joseph Eyam.

The electoral officer, as earlier reported, insisted that only one agent was allowed for each political party. He added that Candidates can either choose to be present or allow the Local Government Area collation agent of the party in their stead.

The candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, Honorable Rita Ayim decided to be present while that of the APC, Mr. Thomas Aruku chose the party’s agent, Chief Wabbily Nyiam.

They were initial protests by a former Director in the Homeland Security directorate of the Cross River State Government, Mr. Raphael Odu who is popularly known as “Defense.” However, he, alongside other agents, were asked to leave.

The electoral officer, later said the agents at different wards can accompany the collation officer while he is announcing the results for collation and leave after that is done.

The collation of results continued with those of the four wards in Mbube and Nkum Iborr Ward which was announced by the collation officer, Mr. Ashishie Providence at about 12:28 AM on Sunday for a total of six out of the 10 Registration Areas in Ogoja.

The collation officer for Ekajuk Ward 2 was called by the State Assembly Elections Collation Officer, Mr. Timothy Ogbang Ellah and asked why he wasn’t presenting his results and he said there was an argument about results from one polling unit where result sheets did not come out but the Bi-Modal Voter Accreditation System, BVAS machine was brought.

An argument ensued about what should be done. The BVAS was queried and the results checked. But, the collation officer said there was a need for the physical forms to be presented alongside.

While this was happening, Mr. Odu who kept complaining about the presence of Mrs. Ayim while going in and out of the collation center said the results from some polling units cannot be accepted and told the ward agent to be “assertive” about that.

A while later, at about 2:38 AM, some thugs breached the gate and kept shouting, protesting against the presence of Mrs. Ayim at the collation center.

“Why is madam Rita inside” and “we go cancel this election,” rented the air while they hit at the gate, shoved aside police officers who were at the entrance and forced their way into the conference room which served as the collation center 

One of them who wore a black beret grabbed the result sheets from the hands of the returning officer, Mr. Timothy Ogbang and lifted a chair to hit him. Mr. Ogbang pleaded for calm but was asked to leave or he will be hurt.

Pandemonium broke out and the PDP candidate was attacked as well as some other staff of INEC.

The glass panes on the windows were shattered and  by the time the Soldiers were called in and arrived with one Mine Resistant Armored Personnel Carrier, some staff and others present had been beaten mercilessly.

Teargas canisters were fired and the mob was dispersed immediately.

However, the soldiers, after assessing the situation, began combing nearby areas and arrested anyone on sight at about 3:30AM.

 

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