The outgoing Imo State governor, Rochas Okorocha, while voting on Saturday confirmed incidents of ballot box snatching in some polling units in the state.
The governor, who contested for Imo West Senatorial seat under the All Progressives Congress (APC), however, said the president’s warning to ballot snatchers helped reduce such incidents during elections.
“Though there are few cases of ballot box snatching at Umuobom and Osomotor, the President’s speech on ballot box snatching has scared people from snatching ballot boxes. That is good for our democracy.”
Okorocha spoke while casting his vote alongside his wife at 11:18 a.m. at Polling Unit 1 in Ogboko Ward 1, Ideato South Local Government Area.
Buhari had, on Monday, said those planning to snatch ballot boxes may be carrying out their last illegal acts.
The comment generated heated debates in the polity with many saying the president’s statement is a veiled directive to security operatives to kill (extra-judicially) those who run afoul of the electoral law.
There were, however, several cases of ballot snatching during Saturday’s polls. In Lagos state, ballot boxes and papers in some centres were set ablaze by suspected thugs.
The Imo State governor further expressed optimism over his victory and that of Buhari at the polls.
“If the number of people at rallies translates to voting, Buhari will win. I will also win, as always.”
Also, the governorship candidate of the Action Alliance, Uche Nwosu, had raised the alarm of incidents of ballot paper snatching and scarcity of ballot papers in some local government areas of the state.
Nwosu, who addressed journalists after voting at his Eziama Obaire in Nkwerre Local Government Area said he was impressed with the massive turnout of voters.
There were also several reported cases of invasion and harassment by thugs mostly because there were inadequate security personnel at polling centres within Okorocha’s Imo West.
Shortly before the governor’s arrival, newsmen reported that a journalist, duly accredited to cover the polls, was harassed and briefly detained by the thugs in Okorocha’s polling unit 10:14 a.m.
This happened under the watching eyes of two female police personnel at the centre.
When the journalist reported the matter to the nearby Ogboko area command, he was further advised by the police to “stay away from the area”.