INEC SPO attacked by hoodlums, recounts ordeal


Yinka Hassan Okoh during Saturday’s Presidential and National Assembly polls served as INEC Supervising Presiding Officer (SPO) in charge of 45 Polling Units and 20 voting points in Balogun Alanamu Ward, Ilorin West Local Government Area, Kwara State. In this interview with MATTHEW DENIS, recounts how he was attacked by thugs who claimed to be agents of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Can you tell us what exactly happened during last Saturday’s election?
I was posted to Balogun Alanamu Ward, Ilorin West Local Government Area of the state as SPO in-charge of the Registration Area Centre (RAC) to distribute materials to the ad-hoc staff in 45 polling units and 20 voting points.
What happened on Saturday was that there was a mixed up in some of the customised papers for Alanamu Ward. We unfortunately had some ballot papers of Ubandawaki ward in Alanamu like two packs and we complained to the electoral officer who said that INEC is not concerned with the cover of the ballot papers but the sensitive materials for casting the votes. We sorted things out and distributed materials to all the polling units. At the frontage of Balogun Alanamu Palace 001 the corps members deployed called me complaining that they couldn’t start the election process because the agents who connived with the hoodlums said they want to have complete ballot papers before voting can start. On getting there, I asked and they said the presidential election  remains two packs which is 200, so I went for the materials at INEC office in the local government. On my way back with the police attached to me,  some hoodlums led by one acclaimed observer of APC named Kale Shiru almost mobbed me. Shiru specifically was among others who accosted me to the INEC office to verify if I was authentic SPO. They complained that I’m the younger brother of a PDP chieftain in Ilorin West, Alhaji Ladi Hassan. But I told them that I was recruited as ad-hoc staff because I’m a federal government civil servant and beside I’m not a card carrying member of any political party. They alleged that I was a fake INEC officer despite seeing the tag and jacket on me. The hoodlums vandalised my car and threatened to burn it and kill me. So immediately some of them started covering the scenario with their phone camera and the pictures went viral. It took the intervention of the police officers that drove me out of that place straight to the INEC office in Ilorin West and Shiru who led the attack and other thugs followed me up to verify my authenticity.
So what happened when you get to the INEC office?
When the police escorted me and the thugs got to know the truth that I was recruited and accredited INEC ad hoc staff as SPO in Alanamu Ward. It was at that point that they started apologising that it was because they knew that I’m from here that was why they reacted that way and they pleaded with me to go back with them so that they can explain to their colleagues. But the issue is that this video that they took has gone viral and my reputation has been damaged.
Do you think that the hoodlums were sponsored and their actions affected the voting process?
Yes, when we got to the INEC, Ilorin West office one of them was boasting that Balogun Alanamu Ward belongs to APC and nobody can tamper with the area. I felt that they had a concluded arrangement that anybody that is not with them is a member of the PDP and even the electoral officer was surprised by that assumption which is very wrong. I worked for INEC as ad-hoc staff but they thought I was there in the name of PDP to rig the election. Even their actions delayed the conduct of the election in the polling unit. We couldn’t start the election until 1:00pm which at the end of the day my ad-hoc staff have to return to the collation centre around 10:00pm. This is uncalled for. If they have approached me in a civilised manner, I would have responded and given them the necessary information.
What was the security situation within that premises like?
The security agencies did their job though the hoodlums almost overpowered them but they have to get me off their hands. The hoodlums vandalised my car doors, they opened my car trunk and carted away my things. I was never arrested, the police only assisted me from being mobbed by these hoodlums from Alanamu ward. INEC should mobilise more security to safeguard the electioneering process and the ad-hoc staff to do their job without hitches here and there from the electorates.

Show More

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button