• Candidates, Monitors Praise INEC
• Military, Police Deployed To Sensitive, Strategic Points
EXCEPT for strategic locations, deployment of security details was minimal, as the people of Sokoto State yesterday voted to elect a new governor.
Yet, the balloting defied previous encounters of rigging and general malpractice, and went by peacefully despite initial apprehension about the possibility of violence.
In most polling units visited by The Guardian in Sokoto South, Dange Shuni, Tambuwal, Tureta, Bodinga, Kware, Rabah and Shagari local councils, voters remained in the queue, waiting to be screened in order to exercise their civic right.
However, while the state Acting Governor, Alhaji Lawal Muhammad Zayyana, former governor and the
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Alhaji Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko and the candidate of the opposition All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), Alhaji Yusha’u Muhammad Ahmed, voted at their respective polling units, the Sultan of Sokoto and President General of the Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, neither came out for accreditation nor to vote.
Reporters, who converged at the polling unit in his palace to cover the exercise, went away disappointed, when the Sultan did not show up after the voting commenced.
It was observed that the accreditation of voters started in some polling units at about 9:34am, due to the late arrival of election materials, a situation an INEC official attributed to the late arrival of some security personnel to escort the sensitive election materials.
It was also noticed that election did take place at Runfar Gidan Sidi, Sani Awale polling units and some other polling units in the absence of security personnel to assist election officials in the control of polling units.
Some of the presiding officers in some parts of the Sokoto metropolis decried the shortage of ink, which is used for voters after accreditation and before casting of the votes.
According to one of the dissatisfied INEC officials, “many people were accredited but we don’t have ink to put on their fingers, which will testify that they were accredited before casting their votes.”
Military personnel were, however, deployed to sensitive areas across the state, while police officers were stationed at strategic points in the Sokoto metropolis, in order to ensure compliance with the restriction order on movement of people during the polling.
Consequently, shops, business centres, the Central Market and filling stations were closed, and commercial motorcyclists and taxi operators were off the streets throughout the election hours.
Fielding questions from newsmen after casting his vote at the Maiturare Nizzamiya Primary School polling Unit 009 in Gwadabawa local council area, the Acting Governor Zayyana expressed satisfaction with the conduct of the election, describing it as most peaceful.
The acting governor, who cast his vote at 1pm, said he was impressed with the arrangements put in place by INEC and the turnout of voters.
Also speaking to reporters after casting his vote at Gidan Kara polling unit in Wamakko town, the PDP candidate Wamakko stated his appreciation “for the large turnout of voters,” particularly women.
Wamakko said he was positive that the outcome of the election would favour his party, iterating his determination, if re-elected, to provide additional job opportunities, alleviate poverty and improve the social wellbeing of the people of the state.
The ANPP candidate, Ahmed, told reporters at his polling unit in Kebbe, his hometown, that there was need to review the electoral process in order to address the upsurge of thuggery.
He claimed that his agents were intimidated by the people he described as “government officials,” but commended the INEC for the conduct, particularly the timely arrival of men and materials at polling units. .