How DSIEC office was burnt down in Ughelli
By Jon Egie
At about the hours of 840, the DSIEC office in Ughelli was set ablaze. It was not clear how the fire was lit but shortly before the office was set ablaze, a scuffle had begun.
Youths, supposedly supporters of various political parties contesting the Ughelli North LGC chairmanship election had engaged themselves in argument.
A source told Spy News Online that at about 7 hours when parties’ faithful got to the DSIEC office the Electoral Officer (EO) and other ad hoc officials who would conduct the election were not on ground to distribute the election materials. Eventually at about 8 hours when the EO arrived, he was asked to account for the election materials in the process it was discovered that the sensitive materials (Result Sheets), were not available.
Our source informed that an MoU was drafted as an inventory of the materials available and the EO was requested to sign but he refused. In the ensuing argument the irate youths laid hold on the available election materials and threw them out of the office, yelling that so long the sensitive materials were not available there would be no election.
The EO was seized and brutalized by the crowd but the police took prompt action to rescue him and whisked into a police van and zoomed him out of danger.
Subsequently, the police attempted to disperse the rampaging crowd with gun shots to the air and release of tears gas. The crowd surged back and regrouped. They pounced on structures of the DSIEC facility, breaking windows and smashing furniture. Suddenly, the office was engulfed in a thick fume of smoldering fire. The premises of the DSIEC office were in pandemonium with everybody running helter skelter as police made further attempt to disperse the crowd. A team of journalists accredited to observe the election also ran for their dear lives but two members of the NUJ, UghellI Correspondents’ Chapel were molested.
When all became calm, the media team sought audience with the Area Commander of Ughelli Police Area Command, Mr Akiki Moses who along with the Delta State Deputy Police Commissioner (Operations) were at the premises of the DSIEC office to assess the extent of damage; but the AC referred the media to the DCP who declined comment.
The media team proceeded to Evwreni, home of the APC leader, Olorogun Emerhor O’tega where a press briefing was held.
Speaking to journalists from Warri and Ughelli, Olorogun O’tega said intelligence report indicated that the PDP were compiling the results of the LG elections the ay before the Election Day. He said across Delta State sensitive materials were not made available.
“Okowa’s government took away the sensitive materials so as to rig the election. APC is ready to contest the election but the election should be conducted. They are acting with impunity, they appointed members of DSIEC and what they are doing is fraud and we will not accept fraud.” He said.
A Councillorship candidate of the APC in Uwheru ward 16, Mr Daniel Ono Itamah who spoke to the press said Okowa has been taking people for granted.
“He wanted to impose PDP on us but if somebody is proclaimed winner of the election which did not hold, we will go to court but I cannot guarantee the reaction of my people so anything can happen.”
Earlier,at the APC secretariat in Ughelli, the chairmanship candidate of the APC for Ughelli North, Mr Evans Akponana said” what we are asking for is that election must hold in Ughelli North. We demand a free and fair election. As at 11 hours the DSIEC office has been burnt down and there is no way they (DSIEC) can announce any result for election that did not hold.
Chairman of the APC in Ughelli North, Chief Felix Ekure alleged that PDP thugs burnt down the DSIEC office to truncate the elction because of fear of failure.
“PDP jeopardize our anticipated joy of victory” he said.
All effort to reach the leadership of the PDP in Ughelli North for their comment were futile as they were engrossed in a crucial meeting at the residence of Dr Steve Oru, former Minister of the Niger Delta. When finally they emerged from the meeting, Hon Samuel Mariere representing Ughelli 1, in the DTHA said “there is no comment, we will address the press tomorrow (Sunday, Jan 7)”.
The PDP chairman in Ughelli North, Mr Lawrence Agbatutu also declined comment but expressed hope that all will be well.