Orange Democratic Movement nominations in Busia on Thursday were marred with violence, gun drama, tension and confusion, delaying voting that began hours late.
The governorship primaries were a do-or-die affair for the incumbent, Mr Sospeter Ojaamong’, and Funyula MP Paul Otuoma, the main rivals for the seat.
Woman Representative Florence Mutua squared it out with Ms Happy Gloria, Ms Winnie Oyugi and Ms Judith Odeeba, while Senator Amos Wako secured a direct ticket since no ODM aspirant expressed interest for the position.
Mr Ojaamong’ cast his vote at Busia Township Primary School at around 10am while Dr Otuoma voted at Bujwang’a Primary School in Sio Port, Funyula Constituency, around 11am.
Before they did so, confusion had reigned in the county over the merging of polling stations, with some voters being turned away from various centres.
The party had earlier opted to reduce the number of polling stations across the county to 175 due to manpower and resource challenges.
Among those turned away at Busia Township Primary School were Ms Beneta Baraza (87), Ms Natalia Amojong’ (71), and Ms Josephine Adhiambo, who were referred to Ojamii Primary School.
“I had been informed that I would cast my vote at Busia Township only to be turned away,” Ms Baraza said.
There was tension in various polling stations as other people missed their names in both ODM’s and the electoral body’s registers.
In Bumala, police were forced to fire in the air to scare youth who had turned rowdy as the voting progressed. Ballot papers were also exhausted in some stations.
At St Mary’s ECDE centre in Matayos Constituency, voters were stranded for several hours after ballot papers ran out, while at the Busia Agricultural Training centre, security was reinforced after youth caused havoc after missing their names in the register.
Mr Paul Oduor, a voter, called for nullification of the entire process “due to glaring anomalies”.
Yet another voter, Mr Owen Kiburi, said ODM should in future consider using the IEBC to conduct its primaries.
“Parties must endeavour to use IEBC in future to forestall such occurrences which only portray them as undemocratic,” he said after discovering that his name was missing in the voter register.
ODM National Elections Board chairperson Judy Pareno had on Wednesday insisted that only registered party members would participate in the primaries.
This was however not the case as election officials allowed National Identity Card holders to vote following rising tension in several stations.
Hours before the elections, on Wednesday night, Deputy Governor Kizito Wangalwa’s vehicle was smashed, its tires deflated and his driver injured by rowdy youth.
Mr Wangalwa’s liaison officer, Mr Lambert Ogochi, said the Deputy Governor was not in the vehicle at the time of the attack.
“I was being driven home when a group of youth stopped our vehicle near Marachi Estate, deflated the tires and smashed one of the windows before giving the driver a thorough beating. They also stole a laptop and an iPad during the incident,” Mr Ogochi said.
On the eve of the primaries, fake publications were circulated in Butula, Busia County alleging that Dr Otuoma had defected to Jubilee.
One of the publications was purported to be a genuine front page of the Daily Nation’s April 13, 2017 edition.
The Nation Media Group however distanced itself from the publication.
In a statement, Corporate and Regulatory Affairs head Clifford Machoka condemned “in the strongest terms possible” the use of the Group’s brands for political purposes.
“We have taken immediate action to report this violation [to] relevant authorities for appropriate action,” said Mr Machoka.
Butula police boss Stephen Wambua also said they had launched investigations into the matter after Dr Otuoma recorded a statement with the police.
The smear campaign was confided to the gubernatorial contest, which was the main focus in the elections.
Mr Ojaamong’ and Dr Otuoma were involved in an altercation over fake leaflets announcing that the latter had defected to Jubilee Party.
Even as Dr Otuoma refuted the claims, Mr Ojaamong maintained his ground that the MP was a “Jubilee candidate”, and so the contents of the leaflets were “actual truth”.
“We know Otuoma is a Jubilee candidate and even our party leader (Raila Odinga) is aware of that. We just wanted to fatten him in ODM before we slaughter him,” said the Governor.