The Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Idowu Owohunwa, has dismissed reports of widespread acts of violence and voter suppression in the state governorship election held on Saturday, March 18.
In an interview with Channels TV, Owohunwa confirmed the attacks on voters and electoral officers recorded at some Lagos polling units, saying, “It is true that we’ve recorded instances of violence in some areas within the state.” He however added that the incidents were “not as widespread as to affect the general dynamics of the process”.
According to him, most of the instances were “properly responded to by the police because we anticipated them”.
When asked if the command had anticipated the violence, he said, “Yes, in some instances. As security practitioners, when you plan operations of this nature, you must anticipate that some elements will want to become adversaries in the process. We anticipated and then we integrated that into our general operational plan and we activated that protocol effectively in this instance. Most of those breaches, the police were able to respond promptly.”
Owohunwa also responded to the claims accompanying some viral videos of alleged incidents of ballot box snatching.
Regarding a video of voters supposedly overpowering a young man alleged to have snatched a ballot box, the police commissioner said
“That in itself is illegal; two wrongs cannot make a right.”
He added that contrary to information on social media, the young man is alive, after he was rescued by the police and other security agencies and that the suspected electoral offender was receiving medical attention.
“He’s stable; he’s not dead,” Owohunwa said
The CP noted that the police were compiling cases within the purview, saying “a lot of arrests” and “recoveries” had been made.
“In most of those cases of ballot box snatching, we recovered virtually all the ballot boxes” he said
Speaking on reports of disenfranchisement in Eti-Osa Local Government Area (LGA), Owohunwa stated that the area had not presented a major challenge.
“Rather, where we have issues now, I think, is around VGC [Victoria Garden City], specifically anyway, and the issue had to do more with the relocation of the polling units from the within the estate to a location outside the gate,” he said.
“That falls within the mandate of INEC, and when my attention was drawn to it, I drew the attention of the REC to the development. As we speak, he has personally gone to the location and is trying to engage the electorate, so that they can find a common ground.”
Watch a video of him speaking below