Southern Taraba Communities of Wukari, Takum and Ibi have threatened to boycott the upcoming governorship and state House of Assemblies elections if soldiers are deployed again for the poll.
According to the communities, the deployment of soldiers during the presidential and National Assembly elections frightened voters and allowed room for malpractices. They said the army were used not to make the elections smooth and fraud-free, but to rig the polls in favour of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Premium Times reports, that the communities cited incidents where voters were openly threatened by trigger.
Responding to questions from journalists in Jalingo, the Taraba state capital, the President of Jukun Community, Benjamin Bako, accused the military of aiding the PDP in the alleged electoral fraud.
“We were shocked to notice that soldiers were manning polling booths, intimidating us with guns. Even in Takum they shot people, so if things will continue unabated I am telling you, we will not allow people to come out during the forthcoming elections.
“This is democracy, people should be allowed to vote candidates of their choice,” Bako said.
According to another community leader, Bello Kwararrafa, there were cases where agents of rival political parties were abducted, manhandled and forced by soldiers acting on the orders of the Federal Government to lie prostrate on the ground.
“Armed soldiers were used by the PDP as aides to the collation officers. There was no collation of results at the ward levels as prescribed by the Electoral Act. All the collating officers and presiding officers were directed to go and submit their results at the local government level from where they collected all the results from the booths in the presence of soldiers,” Kwararrafa said.
David Kente, the Social Democratic Party governorship candidate in the state, named Wukari, Takum and other places as some of the worst zones of alleged electoral fraud. He stressed that apart from “unprecedented rigging”, the areas also witnessed abduction of agents of rival political parties, who were manhandled by soldiers.
“The soldiers pointed machine gun at me, that I should leave the place or else I would be shot, so to avoid crisis I left.
“Soldiers were deployed at polling stations, preventing party agents,” he alleged.
When contacted, Obinna Egemule, the Takum Unit Commander, who led soldiers during the elections, denied all he allegations.
“They wanted to cause violence, so that the elections would not take place. I prevented them from doing that.
“The armoured tank was stationed at INEC office because they threatened to burn down the INEC office. So all the allegations are baseless,” Ejemole stated.
Meanwile, the All Progressive Congress in Benue State, has raised the alarm of a fresh plot between the PDP and the Civilian Joint Task Force to rig the elections in the state.