Categories: Politics

Rivers Voters Were Whipped, Issued Death Threats, Forced To Vote PDP – Cole

 

The candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Rivers State, Tonye Cole, has condemned what he described as the high level of voter intimidation by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the March 18 governorship election.

Speaking on Channels Television’s breakfast show, Sunrise Daily on Monday, Cole noted that the dominance of voter suppression allegedly piloted by the PDP had affected the turnout of voters in Rivers.

He also stated that voters were scourged and threatened to forcefully vote for PDP, adding that government officials and security personnel made the commandeering of ballot boxes in various polling units possible.

“There was a build-up of intimidation, voters were intimidated. They were told not to come out, whips were bought, people were whipped. Town criers went into communities, saying that nobody should come out,” he said.

“[They said] if they came out, they will be dealt with. Voter intimidation was very heavy, so that brought down the number of people coming out to vote because they were scared.

“In some cases, before the counting of the votes occurred, police came and – this was shocking – local government chairmen and councillors were coming with their vans with the police.”

According to him, the authorities took all the electoral materials in the polling unit away and there was very little they could do.

The APC candidate added that the only other option he and his supporters had to resist what they saw coming would have amounted to an escalation into violence.

“They came and carried the entire polling unit away (sic) and took them to an unknown destination and the next thing we saw is that these results were uploaded,” he said.

“We knew that it was going to happen because we had heard it in a small political environment and so we knew that there were plans to kidnap [people]. We saw people come into the polling unit who were strange.”

“There was not enough security to counter that in any case, it was a national election, and security was widespread. We had choices and one of the choices that we had was to arm and equip our own side equally, but this was going to escalate into bloodshed, and death and we chose not to.”

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Cole stated that the election was not equitable, arguing that a free and fair election without any form of voter suppression would prove that Rivers is not a PDP state.

“I would have loved this to be tested without intimidation, without violence and just allow a free and fair election to hold. The violence and the ability to rig has kept Rivers State a PDP state since 1999,” he said.

“People wanted to vote differently and it was the fear of allowing free and fair elections that would have shown that Rivers State was not a PDP state.”

The APC candidate described Rivers as a “hijacked PDP state,” alleging that he was attacked by the opposition.

Oluwatobi Aworinde

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