From Joseph Amedu, Lokoja
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has declared the candidate of the All Progressive Congress(APC), Isah Haruna winner of the last Saturday Lokoja/Kogi Federal House of Representatives bye-election.
Professor Rotimi Ajayi of the Federal University, Lokoja, the returning officer of the bye-election, who announced the result on Sunday in Lokoja said Isah Haruna of the APC polled 26, 860 votes to emerge while Bashir Abubakar Gegu of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, scored 14, 845 to take the second position in the election.
The returning officer also announced that Mohammed Mabo of the Africa Democratic Congress came third having polled 2, 984 votes followed by Ahmed Imam of the Social Democratic Party who scored 2, 916 votes.
According Professor Ajayi 19, 960 votes were declared cancelled as a result of electoral malpractices while 17 polling units were also cancelled consisting of 15 units from Lokoja zone and 2 from Kogi axis following reported cases of election fraud.
It would be recalled that INEC decided to conduct the bye-election following the death of the Majority Leader of the House Representatives, representing Lokoja/Kogi Federal constituency, Buba Jibrin some time in March this year.
Meanwhile, the Kogi state governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello has felicitated with the people of the state over the victory of APC candidate in the bye-election.
The governor also commended the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the peaceful and credible conduct of the bye-election. Violence
The bye- election was on Saturday trailed by accusations and counter accusations of violence, vote buying and use of thugs and government apparatus.
The election started as early as 8 am in the morning in some polling units in Lokoja, the Kogi State capital
later turned to violent in some polling units, where the ballot boxes were allegedly snatched away by the suspected thugs.
But at ward B Paparanda polling unit in Lokoja 1, it was gathered that some suspected thugs heavily armed were said to have disrupted electoral process and carted away the election materials.
It was also learnt that there had physical duel between APC and PDP members and some suspected thugs were led to the polling unit and smashed and forced the electoral officer out of the place.
Source hinted that similar incident occurred at Crowther Memorial College polling unit, stated that the snatch ballot box was equally snatched and taken away.
In Adankolo an eye -witness account pointed out that fight broke out at St Luke Primary School.
Speaking in the early hour of Saturday, the Peoples Democratic Party PDP House of Representatives candidate, Mallam Bashir Abubarka Gegu berated the ruling All Progressive Congress for unleashing rain of terror on the electorate.
Gegu explained that the process was peaceful in his area, alleged that some suspected thugs who came to the town were chased away.
Also condemning the act of intimidation allegedly introduced by the ruling party,the former House of Representatives member and ex- SSG, Alhaji Musa Ahmadu lamented what the country is turning to now under APC.
The Chairman of Kogi Local Government area of the state, Mallam Tanko Musa Mohammed said the process of election in his area was peaceful.
The Social Democratic Party (SDP), candidate who is the immediate past speaker of Kogi State House of Assembly and SPD candidate , Mallam Umar Ahmed Immam while speaking to journalists lamented that reports from polling units were that of snatching of ballot boxes and vote buying.
He decried the treatment meted out to his brother and other agents, stressing that thugs have been harassing innocent people during the exercise.
The National Electoral Commissioner, North Central Zone, Mallam Haruna Mohammed said where there is violence or proven irregularities, the INEC will apply the electoral rules strictly.
At least nine political parties are participating in the by election.