Soldiers Disrupt Election In Parts Of Asaba

By EMMANUEL OKORO
AUSTIN OYIBODE soldiers , in their droves, yesterday, temporarily disrupted elections in parts of Asaba, sending voters scampering
for safety.
The soldiers who arrived a section of the city, confiscated car keys from drivers who they claimed were driving to their polling units.
Many of the cars whose keys were collected by the soldiers were left in the middle of the Nnebisi Road, one of the most popular and busiest roads in the state capital.
As their operation progressed from the new Flyover, the soldiers arrived at the St. John Bosco polling unit where the State Commissioner for Information, Chike Ogeah Esq was billed to vote.
Our correspondent learnt that in a bid to clear the vehicles which were parked close to the polling unit, the soldiers demanded for the key of the commissioner’s car. The commissioner who witnessed the incident and was appalled at the impunity exhibited by the soldiers intervened to sort out the issue.
Ogeah identified himself as a civil commissioner with his Permanent Voters’ Card and other means of identification. But the soldiers blatantly refused to listen to his explanation.
Ogeah, who was visibly angry at the audacious actions of the soldiers, drew the attention of journalists to the soldiers’ action which apparently scared away
voters from the polling unit.
He said: “They came and demanded the key from my driver. We even said please, let us park; they refused to allow us leave the road. I identified myself. They still took the key and went away. I’m surprised at the actions of the soldiers.
We need to know the people behind their activity. We want Nigerians to know that Asaba is a very peaceful place. Right now all our voters have been scared away. And we don’t know whether this is a larger agenda by whoever is directing this”.
Ogeah explained that he was really dismayed at the way the gun-totting soldiers behaved in full public glare. According to him, it was like a military seige on the city, adding that he was particularly pained because Delta State has been very peaceful.
But a spokesman of the soldiers, who disrupted the election and identified as Olaleye O (said to be a brigadier-general) claimed that the
seizure of keys from vehicle drivers was an order from the Inspector- General of Police that no vehicular movement should be allowed on
election day.
According to him, “the order of no vehicular movement means no vehicular movement between 8.am and 6pm. It’s only security agents and others on essential duties that are supposed to be with their vehicles. The issue of ballot snatching is traceable to movement of vehicles and tricycles on election
days.
“So while we were going round; there was a lot of vehicular movement and we decided to enforce the no vehicular movement order by the IGP. It was announced on the radio and television. People are supposed to walk to their polling units and cast their votes.
“Nobody has collected any PVC from anybody. All we are saying is that your vehicle is not supposed to be on the road.
Answering a question on distance from residence to polling unit and the fact that there were some vehicular movements during the presidential election, Olaleye said “we are simply enforcing an order from the Inspector-General of Police”.
Meanwhile, two persons have been reportedly admitted at Umutu General Hospital following serious injuries allegedly inflicted on them by security officers who claimed that they were disappointed that civilians would have the boldness of challenging military men on election duty.