ARMED gunmen have disrupted the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) gubernatorial primaries in Kogi State just as counting was being rounded up at the exercise organised to elect a governorship candidate yesterday.
In November, Kogians are due to go to the polls to elect a new governor in what is expected to be a two-horse race between the PDP and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). Earlier this week, Governor Yahaya Bello clinched the APC ticket by polling 3,369 votes out of the 3,596 cast to beat eight other aspirants.
Yesterday, the PDP had been hoping to select its candidate too and events were already in full swing as seven aspirants from the east of the state stepped down for former governor Idris Wada. Voting had been completed and counting was well underway, having started at 11pm but at around 1.45am, pandemonium broke out when armed hoodlums invaded the stadium where the count was taking place.
Prior to the voting seven candidates from the east of the state, including Air Vice Marshall Salihu Atawodi, Muhammed Tetes, Emmanuel Omebije, Grace Iye Adejor and Dr Victor Adoji had stood down for former governor Idris Wada. However, contestants from other parts of the state like the Kogi West lawmaker Senator Dino Melaye, were still in the contest and a result had been imminent.
In the early hours of yesterday at around 1.45am, however, gunmen invaded the venue of the election, the Lokoja Confluence Stadium and started shooting from different directions. Votes in eight out of the 10 ballot boxes had already been counted and sorted before the disruption by the gunmen.
Aspirants, delegates and others, including Governor Ahmadu Fintiri of Adamawa State, the chairman of the electoral committee, scampered for safety after shots were fired. According to eyewitnesses, the gunmen totalled about 20 in number.