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Violence, including the killing of at least 17 people, mars the gubernatorial elections in some of the 28 states in Nigeria

19 March 2023
The turnout at polling unit 005 in the Bale Galtimari ward of the Jere Local Government Area might have been very low but at least there were no reports of violent incidences Photo credit: Shettima Lawan Monguno
Reading time: 11 minutes

Elections marred as people were killed, voters, INEC staff and journalists were brutally beaten and many were arrested for vote-buying as they tried to rig the results.

At least 17 people were killed and others brutally beaten as violence erupted at polling stations in at least eight states in Nigeria, marring what first appeared to be peaceful elections for governorships and members of state houses of assembly.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) confirmed the deaths and violence, saying that there had also been cases of vote-buying by people trying to rig the results. It said journalists were beaten and elections were disrupted at polling units, resulting in the cancellation and postponement of elections in those constituencies.

Acts of violence were reported in Delta, Lagos, Rivers, Cross River, Niger, Akwa Ibom, Osun and Benue states.


Despite a heavy security presence of the Lagos State Police Command and other agencies, hoodlums reportedly overran the state as they attacked both voters and INEC staff members.

Thugs ran amok at polling units in Surulere, Oshodi, Mile 12, Ejigbo, Bucknor, Oke-Afa, Bolade Oshodi, Surulere, Amuwo Odofin, Berger, Ojo, Agiliti, Ago Palace Way, Okota, Mushin, Igando, Ibeju Lekki, Alimosho, Ijegun, Ijesha, Ikeja, Magodo, Elegushi, Fadeyi and many other areas.

Backed by local militia, the hoodlums brutalized, wounded and maimed voters who refused to vote for candidates from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

At least three people were killed in different parts of the state, including a 68-year-old man, who was attacked at a Somolu polling unit. Hundreds of others, including high-profile individuals, were beaten and their properties destroyed to prevent them from voting.

An unidentified hoodlum was killed by a security agent after he allegedly snatched ballot papers at polling units in Startime Estate, Jamtok and Ago Palace Way.

Idowu Owohunwa, Lagos State commissioner of police, said some cases of violence had been anticipated. He confirmed that both voters and electoral officers were attacked at some polling units.

“It is true that we’ve recorded instances of violence in some areas within the state.

“But,” he said, “the violence was not as widespread so as to affect the general dynamics of the election process. Most of the violence was properly responded to by the police.”

Owohunwa said that security officials had anticipated that there would be violence.

“As security practitioners, when you plan operations of this nature, you must anticipate that some elements will become adversaries in the process. We anticipated such behaviour and integrated that into our general operational plan and we activated that protocol effectively. At most of the places where breaches occurred, the police were able to respond promptly.”
The governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, said he and his wife had cast their votes and he was happy with the turnout.

“I was informed that INEC officials were punctual and the voting process commenced on time.”

He condemned the violence, saying those who caused the violence during elections were in the wrong and were ruining the democratic process.

“Elections that lead to a democratic process are the best form of validation of what true democracy should be about. This contest is about peace, it’s about progress, it’s about prosperity for our state and the country at large.”

The presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi, said he was sad about the loss of lives resulting from acts of violence.

In a tweet in the early hours of Sunday, Obi prayed for a quick recovery for the injured and sent condolences to those who had lost loved ones.

“With sadness, my heart goes out deeply to the Nigerians who lost their lives and those who were maimed and injured just because they were participating in such a simple thing as an election. My prayers go out to the injured and I wish them a quick recovery,” he said.

“My send sincere condolences to the families of those who lost their lives. May God Almighty grant them eternal rest and grant their families the fortitude to bear their sad irreplaceable loss.
“I pray earnestly that God Almighty will save and help Nigeria out of this precarious situation.”

A disagreement between two political party representatives during the collation of election results in the Ahoada East Local Government Area of Rivers State disrupted the election. The trouble started when the two representatives began arguing. It resulted in a fracas not only between the party representatives but also among voters.

An eyewitness told Channels TV that gunshots were heard and tear gas canisters were hurled into the crowd. Two university professors who were serving as collation officers were seen scrambling for safety.

At least five people were killed in separate incidents in Rivers State.
Three gunmen were killed after they stole ballot boxes at the Ogbakiri community polling unit in the Emohua Local Government Area of the state.
The chairman of the APC, Chief Emeka Beke, disclosed this after voting in Ward Three in the Elibrada community of the local government area. He said the men were shot by soldiers who arrived after they had stolen the ballot boxes.
In Delta State, violence erupted at the Mosogar polling unit in the Ethiope West Local Government Area. Two people were reportedly shot dead and the house of a former chairman of the local government area, Dr Wilson Omene, was set ablaze.
Soldiers shot the men as they tried to flee the polling unit with snatched ballot boxes.

One of two people who disrupted the elections at a polling unit in Utagaba-Uno in the Ndokwa West Local Government Area was killed.

In Niger State, a middle-aged man was shot dead in the Sauka-Kahuta area of Minna, the state capital.

An eyewitness said the man was shot dead while he and others threw stones at security operatives deployed to the area to ensure the orderly conduct of the elections.

In Busu in the Lavun Local Government Area of the state, thugs reportedly invaded the Gbadagbadzu polling unit, destroying ballot boxes and scattering the votes that had already been cast. The thugs injured three people who had already voted and were waiting for the votes to be counted.

In Cross River State, a member of the APC was shot dead at Ogoja in the northern senatorial district of the state. The victim, who was identified only as “Joe”, was shot dead by a soldier for disrupting voting at a polling unit. Superintendent Irene Ugbo, the state’s police public relations officer, said: “That is the information we got.”

In Akwa Ibom State, two people who were acting suspiciously and whose identities were unknown, were reportedly shot dead by security operatives while approaching the INEC office at the Oko Ita headquarters of the Ibiono Ibom Local Government Area.

The governorship candidate of the Young Progressives Party (YPP), Senator Bassey Albert, told journalists that the corpses were immediately removed in an official government vehicle.

He said he was shocked by the incident and he called on security operatives to properly investigate the killing.
A man, thought to be a bandit was set alight and died from his burns after a foiled attempt to disrupt voting at a polling unit in General Hospital Road in the Batsari Local Government Area of Katsina State.

Eyewitnesses said the deceased and another suspected bandit had been intercepted by a team of security forces, who said the men intended to cause confusion and disrupt the election process.

The police command in Bayelsa State arrested a man in connection with the seizure and destruction of some voting papers in some wards in the Ogbia Local Government Area.

Mohammed Dankwara, the state’s commissioner of police, said efforts were ongoing to apprehend other suspects linked to the incident.

It was not only voters and thugs who were victims of violence during the elections. INEC officials also came under attack.

Achibie Ogbonne, the electoral officer for the Isu Local Government Area of Imo State, the returning officer and several collation officers were abducted by unknown gunmen.

Chinenye Chijioke-Osuji, INEC’s spokeman in Imo State, said the elections had gone smoothly and peacefully until the collation of the results started. He said “unscrupulous elements” pretending to be staff members invaded the collation centre, chasing everyone away with guns and tear gas.

Later in the day, Mohammed Barde, the commissioner of police, confirmed that Ogbonne and her team were now “with the police”. Barde did not give information on the status of their health, the number of abductees in police custody, or how they escaped from the gunmen. He promised to give an update at a later stage.


The Nigeria Drug Law Enforcement Agency disclosed that four political party representatives were intercepted in Ogun State in possession of multiple credit cards which they intended to use to buy votes.

In a tweet on Saturday, the agency said its chairman, Brigadier-General Buba Marwa (retired), had ordered that the suspects be handed to the police.

Operatives belonging to the anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) were attacked by a suspected vote-buyer while they were monitoring the elections at School Road in Unguwan Rimi in Kaduna State.

While he was being apprehended, the suspect became “unruly and attracted the attention of members of his syndicate, who descended on the operatives, using all kinds of weapons and wounding some of the agency’s operatives”.

Later on Saturday, the EFCC revealed it had made more than 65 arrests of people accused of “voter inducement”. The agency stated that the arrests were made across all the 28 states where the governorship elections were being held.
Wilson Uwujaren, the EFCC spokesman, said the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission had also arrested suspected vote-buyers.


The gubernatorial elections were not held in the Asari-Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State because voters were angered that there were no INEC election officers present at the Registration Area Centre (RAC) in Buguma, the headquarters of Asari-Toru. A heated disagreement took place until security agents placated the voters.

Mike Usolo, INEC’s head of voter education, said that the commission had postponed elections in Asari-Toru and parts of the Degema Local Government Areas because INEC was unable to distribute electoral materials in some areas.

Usolo said the commission had not yet set a date for elections in those areas.
INEC also postponed elections at eight polling units in the affluent Victoria Garden City (VGC) estate in the Ajah area of the Eti-Osa Local Government Area of Lagos State. Two other polling units outside the estate were also affected.

Segun Agbaje, INEC’s resident electoral commissioner addressed voters at a polling unit in the estate. He said there had been a problem with permanent voters cards in eight election units in the estate and at two others outside the estate.

“After consultation and a directive from [INEC] national headquarters, it was decided that the elections would be postponed to Sunday, March 19. Voting would begin at 8.30am.”


Some political thugs in Lagos State attacked the crew of Arise News TV Channel, including the cinematographer, Opeyemi Ademihun, who was operating a drone. The assault on Ademihun and other crew members took place at Ikate, close to Elegushi Palace.

Security operatives of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, assaulted Edwin Philip of Breeze FM in Lafia, who was covering the elections in Nasarawa State.

Philip, who is the head of news at the FM radio station, said he was beaten by corps personnel. He said the assault occurred while he was conducting a live broadcast for the station.

He said he had received a call from voters at polling unit 061 in the Chiroma Ward in Lafia East, who told him there was something suspicious happening at the unit.

“When I got to the venue, I was told by voters that after they had been accredited, they had been told to go home and return at 2.30. They had not voted yet but their fingers were marked with ink, symbolising that they had indeed voted.

“On sighting Ibrahim Abdullahi, the chief of staff to the Emir of Lafia, I moved away from the polling unit because he was becoming violent and had started beating up some of the voters.

“All of a sudden, he disappeared from the polling unit only to reappear with members of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps and he ordered them to beat me up and take me away.

“They beat me, leaving a deep cut on my head and my whole body is swollen,” he said.

He claimed corps members had taken his wristwatch, fez cap and his mobile phone. They later returned his phone.
Philip said he had reported the assault to the Nasarawa command of the corps and to the police in the state.

Victor Jerry, the spokesman of the Nasarawa State corps command, confirmed the attack.

But, he said, the people who committed the assault were not members of the crops’ Nasarawa State command. He said the command would investigate who was behind the attack to bring them to book.


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