The 2018 Delta state local council elections, across the 25 council areas of the state, started out on Saturday on a violent note as unknown armed men set the State Independent Electoral Commission (DSIEC) office in the Ughelli council Secretariat on fire.
The situation was not less volatile in other council areas, especially in the Delta Central District. There were reports of violent attacks, leaving more than two persons hospitalised in Ughelli.
There also reports of malpractices in the distribution of election materials, leading to mass resistance by voters in both Ughelli South and Udu council areas.
Although the take off of the exercise in Warri South and Uvwie council areas was relatively peaceful as DSIEC officials and party representatives were seen going about the distribution processes, the situation in many other parts of the state was opposite.
However, the chairmanship candidate of the All Progressives’ Congress (APC) in Uvwie council area, Ufuoma Okenini, has raised the alarm over alleged intimidation and threat to the lives of members and supporters of his party by those he described as “thugs of the PDP”.
In Ughelli, as at about 8:30am, sources in Ughelli, the headquarters of Ughelli North council area of the state, said while the DSIEC, party representatives and security officers were distributing materials to various units, some armed men invaded the Secretariat, shooting sporadically and left the DSIEC office ablaze.
A source told the Nation that the atmosphere in the council Secretariat was tense as the attackers carried out their mission. Although there was no report of death, it was learned that many persons sustained various degrees of injuries.
“At about 8:30am this morning, while the security agencies were on ground waiting for election materials at the Ughelli secretariat, some armed men bust into the place , shooting very rapidly.
“As we speak, the secretariat has been set ablaze while all on ground are looking for where to hide. Some comrades monitoring the election have run into the bush for hiding,” the source said.
In Udu council area, the exercise did not go peacefully as voters and officials of opposition parties refused to allow distribution of election materials after finding out that the returning officer allegedly ran away with the original result sheets.
The rancorous situation persisted until well after 11:20am when some persons, said to be officials of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), under the cover of local vigilante men and policemen, pushed their way through the angry crowd, loaded the remaining materials and sped away.
In the neighbouring Ughelli South council area, election materials were still holed up in the Divisional Police Station at the council headquarters in Otu-Jeremi as at noon. The Nation gathered that voters and members of opposition parties, including the APC, had kept vigil around the police station after realising that sensitive materials, including result sheets, were missing from the available materials.
Things, however turned bloody in the early hours of the day when some armed vigilante men, allegedly working with the ruling party, attacked some members of the APC, shooting two, in an attempt to scare people away and make way for easy get away with remaining materials.
A chieftain of the APC in Otu-Jeremi, Ifeanyi Adjekota, called for a rescheduling of the election in the council area, noting that there was no way election would hold and be seen as free and fair any longer. He said trouble started when voters sensed foul play in materials brought, adding that the returning officer allegedly ran away with some sensitive materials.