Gunmen set our polling places’ ballot boxes on fire, according to witnesses at the Ogun trial

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More witnesses testified before the panel hearing the dispute between Ladi Adebutu of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and Dapo Abiodun of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the Ogun State governorship election petition tribunal began its hearings on Thursday.

The six witnesses described how some political thugs with guns reportedly set their votes on fire during their appearances before the court on Thursday.

According to 460play, the witnesses included a 77-year-old man named Adeniyi Ijaola, a banker named Ayalekhue Wesley, and four other people.

The witnesses claimed that the governorship election on March 18 was marred by violence in their respective polling places, which forced the exercise’s cancellation.

The 77-year-old man argued during cross-examination that the gunmen interfered with the election at his polling place in Sagamu Local Government Area, Ward 8, Unit 7, in Ogun.

The elderly man recounted that the election began at his polling place but was called off after three armed individuals broke into the voting facility, ejected voters and election officials, and set ballot papers and ballot boxes on fire.

“The election began in my polling place, but it was called off when voting was interfered with. Unexpectedly, three men riding motorcycles and armed with firearms started chasing voters away.

“Those shooters set fire to ballot papers. We fled, and when we returned, we discovered the burned ballots. Due to the disturbance, no results were announced in my voting unit,” he remarked.

The banker, Ayalekhue Wesley, claimed that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) disregarded a claim of excessive voting at his polling place.

Rukayat Adenike, a permanent voter from polling unit 0011, Sabo in Sagamu, was accused of voting at a separate polling location when she appeared to provide testimony.

In response, Rukayat said: “INEC moved us to a different polling unit in 2023, therefore my current polling unit is different from the one on my voter card. The INEC should provide an explanation for moving us to a different polling place.

Adedoyin Kehinde Omolara also stated in her testimony that “thugs in my polling unit cast votes and put ballot boxes on fire, which is why our election was called off. Our votes were invalid. It hurt a lot. The police were present when it occurred.

Speaking to journalists, Remi Olatubora, the INEC’s legal representative, expressed satisfaction with the tribunal’s current course of action.

“They have now presented 40 witnesses. More of these witnesses are what we hope to take on. As INEC’s counsel, I’m happy.

In his assessment of the tribunal panel, he said that they were “good and listening,” adding that “they are very patient people and the proceedings have been very smooth and very fine.”

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