Lagos State police boss says most electoral offence incidences were dealt with immediately

LAGOS State police commissioner Idowu Owohunwa has praised the men under his command saying that they responded to all incidences of electoral violence immediately ensuring that none of the reported cases will affect the outcome of the polls.


Nigerians went to the polls today to elect 30 state governors and the members of 36 state houses of assembly. Lagos State in particular was dogged with tension as the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) faced a tough fight from the Labour Party, leading to volatile rhetoric and intense drama over the last few days.


Worried about the prospect of Labour Party candidate Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour, defeating incumbent Governor Babajide Sanwoolu, the APC pulled out all the stops to secure victory. In a flagrant departure from the norm, traditional Oro festivals were held to intimidate opposition voters and Musiliu Akinsanya , popularly, known as MC Oluomo, the chairman of Lagos State Parks Management Committee and a prominent APC member, threatened Igbo voters who are not voting for the APC to stay at home.


In the midst of such tension, voting got underway today but the exercise was marred with incidences of ballot box snatching and voted intimidation. In several cases, local people has to form vigilante groups to confront thugs who came to their neighbourhoods to snatch ballot boxes and to cause mayhem.


With some commentators calling for the entire election to be scrapped, Mr Owohunwa said that the incidents were not as widespread as to affect the general dynamics of the process. He added that  most of the instances were properly responded to by the police because they anticipated them.


In an interview with Channels Television, Mr Owohunwa said: “It is true that we’ve recorded instances of violence in some areas within the state. In some instances, as security practitioners, when you plan operations of this nature, you must anticipate that some elements will want to become adversaries in the process.


“We anticipated and then we integrated that into our general operational plan and we activated that protocol effectively in this instance. Most of those breaches, the police were able to respond promptly.”


Regarding a video of voters supposedly overpowering a young man alleged to have snatched a ballot box, the police commissioner said that in itself is illegal as two wrongs cannot make a right. He added that contrary to information on social media, the young man is alive, rescued by the police and that the suspected electoral offender was receiving medical attention.


According to Mr Owohunwa, the police was compiling cases and a lot of arrests and recoveries have been made. He added: “In most of those cases of ballot box snatching, we recovered virtually all the ballot boxes."