Voting has ended inmost polling units in Benue State, and counting has started. However, electionscould not hold in five local government areas because of violence. NantaweYiluwaloa, the resident electoral commissioner, REC, in Benue, confirmed a fewmoments ago that due to various acts on violence, elections had been postponedin four local governments.
The worst case was inGwer East Local government where thugs struck about 5.00am at the IndependentNational Electoral Commission and burnt down the office. According him, all electoral materials forMbalom Ward, Gwer East, were burnt. The materials were housed at the RCMPrimary School, Aya.
Yiluwaloa said theelectoral officer for the local government, Ngunan Yongo, briefed him on theincident, which occurred before the materials were distributed. She confirmed, “The entire materials areburnt.”
Hoodlums also struck atTarka Local Government Area and destroyed voting materials for 21 wards. Theyattacked two times, returning after the initial attack to utterly destroy thevoting materials.
This happened despitethe heavy military presence in the State. “We are hopeful the security agentswill do the needful,” said a helpless Yiluwaloa.
Elsewhere, voting waspeaceful in Makurdi, the state capital, but the turnout was very low. Variousvoters interviewed by the Magazine, felt the reason was principally because ofthe threat of heavy military presence in the state. For fear of militarybrutality, most voters were said to have said at home. During the presidentialand national assembly elections, the turnout was heavier.
Dagu Fredrick, anelectoral observer for Ratech, a non-governmental organization, said people mayhave stayed home out of fear. “There were so much rumours of militarization butso far there is nothing like that. This is more peaceful than the presidentialand national assembly elections, unfortunately many people have decided not tocome out and vote,” he said.
The gubernatorialelection 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 theyvoted for.