Plateau LG polls: Houses, LG chamber razed as PDP accuses Lalong of ‘creating unnecessary tension’

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Irate youths protesting the outcome of Wednesday’s local government elections in Plateau State have burnt down four houses in Langtang South Local Government.
The youths were angry that the results of the polls were not declared at the local government collation centre.
A top security personnel said that the youths, who were waiting for the local government Returning Officer to collate results brought from the wards, got enraged when Governor Simon Lalong announced on Radio that the winners would be sworn in by 2 p.m.
“They were shocked when a candidate they claimed did not win the polls was announced as the winner,” the source said.
According to him, the protest began peacefully with the youths chanting war songs and accusing the Plateau State Independent Electoral Commission (PLASIEC) of “cheating”, as they marched through the streets.
“But, the protest turned violent when some youths decided to attack the houses of those they suspected had connived with PLASIEC officials to `steal’ their mandate.
“Within a very short while, three houses belonging to some prominent persons and an official of PLASIEC were burnt down by the irate youths,” the security personnel said.
He identified houses burnt as belonging to Mr Andrew Sambo, the Electoral Officer that conducted the election in the area, and one Mr Jackson Ponzhi, a prominent politician.
Also burnt was the residence of Mr Nicholas Vongsin, a former chairman of Langtang South Management Committee, as well as the local government chamber where results of the elections from the wards were to be collated and announced.
Speaking on the development, Mr Domle Simon, PDP Vice Chairman, Plateau South, blamed the state government for the destruction recorded in the area.
“The governor should have allowed the electoral officers to collate the results. The decision to swear in those that clearly lost the election was an invitation to chaos and anarchy,” he said.
Simon spoke further: “I am almost 70 years old and have been in this town all my life, but I have never seen anything like this,” he said.
He advised the state government to always be mindful of the effects of their actions on those they have sworn to lead, saying that leaders should always remember that they would give account of their actions in the hereafter.
Contacted, Mr Terna Tyopev, spokesman of the Police Command in Plateau, said that he had heard about the crisis in the area but has yet to receive details.
“I have not been briefed by the Divisional Police Officer in the area. If I get the details, I will call you,” he said.
Meanwhile, the state chapter of PDP has accused the Lalong-led administration of “creating unnecessary tension by insisting on announcing results of local government elections while collation was ongoing”.
Mr Damishi Sango, the state chairman of the party, told newsmen on Thursday in Jos that ward and local government Returning Officers were still at the various collation centres when the results were announced in Jos.
The elections were held in 13 local governments with Jos North, Jos South, Riyom and Barkin-Ladi due to “prevailing security situation”.
Mr Fabian Ntung, Chairman, Plateau State Independent Electoral Commission (PLASIEC), who announced the outcome of the polls Thursday morning, had said that the APC won 11 out of the 13 local government where the process was concluded.
He said that results from two local governments – Langtang North and Mangu – were inconclusive.
Reacting to PLASIEC’s declaration, Sango alleged that the entire process was “marred with irregularities”.
Sango cautioned the ruling party against actions that could lead to the breach of the “delicate peace” Plateau residents were enjoying.
“The Plateau government should allow the people’s will to prevail. To insist on subverting the people’s choice is not healthy for the state,” he said.
According to him, “in some cases, while anxious voters were waiting at the local government collation centres for results from the wards, electoral and returning officers disappeared into thin air, leaving room for avoidable anxiety”.
He advised government against “plunging Plateau into yet another needless political crisis”.
“I have spoken with the State Director of the State Security Services and the Commissioner of Police and made it clear that the state government should be held responsible for any breach of peace over the local government elections,” he said.
Meanwhile, youths have blocked the Mangu – Jos highway in protest against the alleged refusal of the Returning Officer to announce the outcome of the local government results.
The youths, who took over the road Thursday morning, stopped vehicles from moving from Shendam and Langtang to Jos, while those heading to the central and southern parts of the state were also denied passage.
Their spokesmen, who gave his name as James, vowed that the youths would occupy the road until the results were declared.
Among those blocked was Plateau deputy governor, Prof. Soni Tyoden, who was heading to the capital city, after the polls.
Efforts by Mr Irimiya Sarpiya, Chairman of the Mangu Local Government Caretaker Committee, to convince the youths to leave the road proved abortive as they insisted on remaining there until the results were released.
The situation was found to be the same in Bokkos, Kanke, Langtang North and langtang North Local Governments, where various routes were blocked by irate youths protesting over the election results.
Meanwhile, Lalong has advised the people against taking the law into their hands over the results of the local government elections.
Lalong, in a statement by Mr Yakubu Datti, the Commissioner of Information, advised those aggrieved to go to court “rather than doing anything that may affect the peace of the state”.
“Those who are aggrieved should ventilate their grievances at the local government election tribunal,” he said, adding that the tribunals were inaugurated “even before the elections”.
The governor denied allegations that he had interfered with the process, saying that PLASIEC was an independent institution headed by a credible leadership that could make clarifications over the process and the outcome.
“All concerns should be directed at PLASIEC and not the governor,” the statement said.

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