BY TIMOTHY AGBOR, OSOGBO
Pandemonium struck in Ilesa, Osun State, on Thursday, when some suspected political thugs stormed some wards and registration centres where registered voters were collecting their Permanent Voters Cards and disrupted the exercise.
The Independent National Electoral Commission in the state had extended collection of PVCs to registration centres/wards to allow registered voters collect their PVCs ahead of the July 16 governorship election in the state.
While the exercise was ongoing in some wards at Ilesa West Local Government Area of the state on Thursday morning, some armed hoodlums, stormed the PVC collection centres simultaneously and terrorized the participants.
Amid resounding gunshots, eyewitness accounts revealed that officials of the electoral empire and registrants scampered for safety and left PVCs and other items.
Some members of the major opposition Peoples Democratic Party in Ward 03, Atakunmosa West Local Government accused the ruling All Progressives Congress in the area of sending thugs to disrupt the exercise.
“It is because many of our members have decided to come out en masse to collect their PVCs that the APC sent their thugs to attack us. They know that we are many in this area, so they were shooting and scared us away,” a PDP member in the area said on the condition of anonymity.
Traders and passersby around Itakogun, Roundabout and Idasa Areas of the town were thrown into palpable tension when the rampaging hoodlums started shooting apparently to send fears to their opponents.
When contacted, the Public Relations Officer of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Olabisi Atanda, confirmed the disruption of the PVCs collection exercise, adding that the corps and the Nigeria Police were on the trail of the hoodlums.
Atanda said, “The areas the hoodlums attacked included Wards 1, 3, 6 and 7 in Ilesa West and Ilesa West Central. They were able to send people who were collecting their PVCs and INEC officials away. There were no casualties and we are working with the Police to restore order and peace to the areas.”
The Caretaker Chairman of the Osun PDP, Adekunle Akindele accused the APC of sponsoring things to disrupt the exercise.
“This is not the first time the APC will be sending thugs to attack our people. From what I gathered, APC thugs came on motorcycles to Ilesa West and sent out members who were collecting their PVCs away. I learnt that three of them were arrested by the police in the area and some bikes were equally recovered.
“We would like to warn the APC to stop sponsoring attacks on our members. They have been destroying our billboards including the ones we paid for at the signage office of the state. We are taking them to court on that because we are a peace-loving party,” he said.
The Director of the Media and Publicity of the APC in the state, Kunle Oyatomi, said he was not aware of the incident.