A poor turnout of voters has been observed in most polling units in Plateau as the state holds elections into its local government councils.
The elections are holding in 14 out of the 17 local governments with Jos North, Jos South, Riyom and Barkin-Ladi left out.
Governor Simon Lalong had hinged the decision to leave out the four local governments on “prevailing security situation’’.
Correspondents of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), who went round some polling units in Pankshin, Mangu, Bassa, Langtang North, Langtang South and Shendam local governments, observed that the voter turnout was very low.
At Youth Centre polling unit in Pankshin central, NAN found less than 10 prospective voters on the queue as at 11.10 a.m.
The situation was the same in the two polling units of Nerr in Pankshin, where NAN met less than a combined total of 12 voters milling around and waiting for the electoral officers.
NAN also found that there was tension in six wards in Pankshin following claims that the electoral officers brought duplicate copies of results sheets.
The wards included Dopkai, Kangmun, Jibilik, Jibam, Kagu ang Jing.
Mr Godwin Nanchin, PDP Organising Secretary in Pankshin Local Government, told NAN that the ploy was to enter results in the duplicate sheets to deceive the electorate at the polling units.
“The results they want will then be entered in the original sheets and announced as authentic,” he said, and vowed that his party would resist such move.
But Mr Jerry Audu, PLASIEC’s Assistant Electoral Officer in Pankshin, told NAN that the distribution of the duplicate copies of the results sheets was not deliberate.
“The duplicate results sheets did not come along with other results materials, but we have sent for the origin results sheets and shall distribute them to the affected wards as soon as they are received,” he told NAN.
At Central Primary School, Langtang South, NAN found a few voters waiting for electoral voters as at 11.20 a.m.
One of the prospective voters, an elderly man, who gave his name as Nimfa Jan, told NAN that he had been waiting since 7.30 a.m.
“I have been waiting and will continue to wait. We are told that the electoral officers are on the way. We hope they will come soon,’’ he said.
Some people, who spoke with NAN, however said that they were not aware that elections into local government councils were being held.
Mrs. Asabe Timkat, who runs a hair salon, told NAN that she was not aware of the election.
“It was just this morning that someone told me that elections will today. We normally get to know of these things when candidates campaign and disrupt traffic. I did not see anyone campaigning,’’ she said.
At Mangu, however, NAN found an appreciable turnout of voters, especially in the polling units located in the centre of the town.
NAN, however, learnt that there was confusion over allegations that the electoral officers had brought fake results sheets, with voters hurling accusations against electoral officers.
Our correspondent also found a sharp division among the voters with some of them insisting that the electoral officers be allowed to perform their duties while others insisted on sighting and snapping the results sheets.
Mr Ben Shignugul, PDP Vice Chairman in Plateau Central, told NAN that he was “very impressed with the turnout of voters’’.
“As you can see, many people are anxious to vote because the local government councils are very important to their lives.
“The councillors are seen as the commissioners while the local government chairman is seen as the governor, so the election and those elected mean a lot for them,’’ he said.
Shignugul, however, expressed fear that the right results might not be determined because of allegations that the electoral officers had brought fake results sheets.
He also alleged that the electoral officers had hinted that the results would not be announced at the polling units, ward or local government collation centres.
“What we are told is that the results will be collated and sent to Jos to be announced there. We think this is not right and shall not accept any foul play,’’ he said.
Shignugul said that many voters had abandoned their farms to cast their votes, and advised the Plateau State Independent Electoral Commission (PLASIEC), to “do the right thing’’.
“We have resolved to resist anything suspicious here. We shall insist and persist until the right thing is done,’’ he said.
At Langtang North, NAN learnt that a commissioner in the Plateau government was allegedly arrested for being in possession of a ballot box stuffed with ballot papers already thumb-printed in favour of one political party.
“Some youths, on learning that the commissioner was thump-printing ballot papers, rushed to his house and forced him to bring out the box,’’ a source, who pleaded anonymity, told NAN.
Mr Domle Simon, PDP Vice Chairman in Plateau South Senatorial Zone, who confirmed the said arrest of the commissioner, claimed that the suspect, along with several others, had been taken to the Police Station.
NAN, however, could not obtain Police confirmation of the arrest as the spokesman of the Plateau Police Command, Mr Tyopev Terna, said he was still “waiting to be briefed’’.
In most local governments, however, NAN found that most business outfits, especially eateries, were in business, while the roads were busy as there were no restrictions in movement.