11 Apr 2015

2 killed during elections in Cross River

No fewer than two persons were feared killed in Mkapani , Yakurr Local Government Area in the central part of Cross River Saturday morning when thugs attempted to snatch election materials for meant for Mkpani and Agoi wards in the area.

It was gathered that no sooner than the election materials were distributed at about 8.00am, at Government Secondary School, Mkpani, that the incident occurred.

It was gathered that gun wielding thugs suspected to be working for a known member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the area moved swiftly towards the INEC officials and hijacked some of the materials that were meant for distribution to polling units in the area.

Eye witnesses said though the thugs succeeded in snatching some of the materials at the school, the driver of the vehicle was able to speed-off from towards the town where the polling units are located.

The witnesses said a few metres from the school, the driver and the INEC officials noticed another set of gun wielding thugs in front of them whom they suspected were out to waylay them and hijack the materials.

The witnesses said in the panic that ensued, the driver of the INEC vehicle reversed the vehicle into the residence of former Governor of the State, Clement Ebri, for safety.

It was gathered that aside from the materials that were in the vehicle. INEC officials made up mainly of National Youth Service Corp (NYSC), members were chased by the thugs.

It was gathered that, the timely intervention of Ebri, who came out from his room to enquire as to what was happening in his residence that saved the lives of the NYSC members, who pleaded with him to save their lives by protecting them from the advancing thugs.

The witnesses said the thugs who were bent on collecting the materials later stormed the former governor’s residence shooting sporadically in their attempt to have his way, despite his intervention to calm the situation.
Reacting to the development, Ebri said: “Yes I was in my house in the village, Mkpani, Yakurr Local Government Area when I heard some commotion and saw a vehicle reversing into my compound. I came out to see electoral officials, policemen in their uniforms with materials all in there. I asked them ‘what are you doing here’ and they told me that unknown persons had snatched, at gunpoint some of the materials meant for the governorship and state house of assembly polls in the area, specifically at Government Secondary School, Mkpani from some vehicles ahead of them.

“They said that some of them, INEC officials, had to run to my house for shelter because they felt it will be safer.

“I told them they cannot stay in my compound with those sensitive materials and they told me `look they will kill us’. The Corps members were crying and begging ‘daddy don’t allow them to kill us’.

“Right away I called the police, the DPO here and told them. Your people are here come and rescue them because I felt those who pursued them will still come for them if something is not done. After a while the DPO had to come in with the army and police to take the materials intact”.

Ebri continued: “I have not met the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Dr Okey Ezeani, but I got an unknown phone call which turned out to be from him today thanking me for what I did, saving the lives of his officials and preserving the electoral materials. I am a father, I have my children and I would not sit down, see and allow people killed in my house”.
Ebri said after the INEC officials and the materials were evacuated, the thugs descended his house and destroyed part of it.

Credit: Bassey Inyang/ThisDay

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