Gunmen burnt ballot boxes in our polling units – Witnesses tell Ogun tribunal


The Ogun State governorship election petition tribunal continued proceedings on Thursday as more witnesses testified before the panel hearing the case between Ladi Adebutu of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and Dapo Abiodun of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

The six witnesses, who appeared before the court on Thursday, recounted how their votes were allegedly set on fire by some gun-wielding political thugs.

Saga Gist reports that among the witnesses were a 77-year-old man, Adeniyi Ijaola; a banker, Ayalekhue Wesley and four others.

The witnesses testified that violence marred the March 18 governorship election in their various polling units, leading to the cancellation of the exercise.

While being cross-examined, the 77-year-old man insisted that the election at his polling unit in Ward 8, Unit 7 of Sagamu Local Government area of Ogun was disrupted by the gunmen.

The septuagenarian explained that the election started at his polling unit but was cancelled after three gunmen invaded the voting centre, chased out voters as well as electoral officers and set ballot papers and ballot boxes afire.

“Election at my polling unit started, but it was cancelled when voting was disrupted. To our surprise, three people came on motorcycles with guns and chased voters away.

“Ballot papers were burnt by those gunmen. After running away, we came back and saw the burnt ballot papers. No result was declared in my polling unit due to the disruption,” he said.

On his part, the banker, Ayalekhue Wesley, accused the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of ignoring an over voting allegation at his polling unit.

When she appeared to give evidence, Rukayat Adenike from polling Unit 0011, Sabo in Sagamu, was accused of voting at a polling unit different from the one stated on her permanent voter’s card.

Rukayat responded by saying: “My present polling unit is different from the one on my voter card because INEC transferred us to another polling unit in 2023. INEC should be the one to answer why they transferred us to a different polling unit.”

Also in her evidence, Adedoyin Kehinde Omolara, explained that, “votes were cast and ballot boxes were set ablaze by thugs in my polling unit and that was why our election was cancelled. Our votes did not count. It was painful. It happened in the presence of the police.

Speaking to newsmen, Counsel to INEC, Remi Olatubora, said he was satisfied with the process of the tribunal so far.

“They have called 40 witnesses now. We hope to take on more of these witnesses. I’m satisfied as counsel to INEC.

He described the tribunal panel as being a “good and listening,” saying “they are very patient people and the proceedings have been very smooth and very fine.”

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