Poor Voters Turnout, Violence in Benue

Poor Voters Turnout, Violence in Benue
Poor Voters Turnout, Violence in Benue

Voting has ended in most polling units in Benue State, and counting has started. However, elections could not hold in five local government areas because of violence. Nantawe Yiluwaloa, the resident electoral commissioner, REC, in Benue, confirmed a few moments ago that due to various acts on violence, elections had been postponed in four local governments.

The worst case was in Gwer East Local government where thugs struck about 5.00am at the Independent National Electoral Commission and burnt down the office.  According him, all electoral materials for Mbalom Ward, Gwer East, were burnt. The materials were housed at the RCM Primary School, Aya.

Yiluwaloa said the electoral officer for the local government, Ngunan Yongo, briefed him on the incident, which occurred before the materials were distributed.  She confirmed, “The entire materials are burnt.”

Hoodlums also struck at Tarka Local Government Area and destroyed voting materials for 21 wards. They attacked two times, returning after the initial attack to utterly destroy the voting materials.

This happened despite the heavy military presence in the State. “We are hopeful the security agents will do the needful,” said a helpless Yiluwaloa.

Elsewhere, voting was peaceful in Makurdi, the state capital, but the turnout was very low. Various voters interviewed by the Magazine, felt the reason was principally because of the threat of heavy military presence in the state. For fear of military brutality, most voters were said to have said at home. During the presidential and national assembly elections, the turnout was heavier.

Dagu Fredrick, an electoral observer for Ratech, a non-governmental organization, said people may have stayed home out of fear. “There were so much rumours of militarization but so far there is nothing like that. This is more peaceful than the presidential and national assembly elections, unfortunately many people have decided not to come out and vote,” he said.

The gubernatorial election in Benue is a three-prong fight among three political parties – PDP, APC and PRP. A number of local issues, according to voters, determined who they voted for.

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