The Edo Election Petition Tribunal may have gone on recess to resume after the christmas break but the war of words between the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in Edo State is yet to abate.
The spokesperson of the PDP in Edo, Chris Nehikhare, has alleged that the APC had plans to sabotage the court process of verification of ballot papers used in the September 28, governorship election in Edo State.
He told Channels Television in Benin City, the state’s capital, that the APC wanted to destroy the office of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) along with the ballot papers.
“In a place where APC scored 450 votes, when you get to the ballot box you discover about 200 ballot papers. It was this discovery that made the APC threaten to destroy the INEC office,” he claimed.
In his reaction, the chairman of the APC, Anslem Ojezua, said the PDP had no grounds for such claims.
“This same allegations were made in the Tribunal and was thrown out. Now, they want to achieve what they couldn’t achieve in court with the police,” he told Channels Television.
7:40am: INEC Commissioner on Voter Education, Mr Solomon Soyebi says the Commission is awaiting results from eight Local Government Areas before collation commences “in an hour”. He, however, didn’t mention which local government areas these are.
1:59am: Delay of results announcement triggers agitations at INEC Headquarters. Young men and women throng the place. Police won’t allow them access into the premises.
12:30am: Thursday, September 29, 2016: More vehicles moving into INEC Headquarters blaring siren. It appears they have some results, Seun Okinbaloye said.
10:00pm: INEC National Commissioner, Solomon Soyebi, says no result is at the INEC Headquarters yet. Reporters still waiting.
“From tracking we know that some results are ready,” he said, but could not give the number of local council where results are ready.
“So far so good. This is one of the most beautiful elections we have conducted in recent times. It was very peaceful. There was large voters’ turnout. The good people of Edo State conducted themselves very properly,” the INEC official stated.
He confirmed that there were pockets of ballot snatching, but said it was minimal compared to expectations.
9:10pm: INEC officials at the Headquarters monitoring activities of field officials compiling results at different local government areas.
8:00pm: Reporters waiting for results to begin to come in at the INEC Headquarters. Channels Television’s correspondent Seun Okinbaloye said no local government has returned items to the INEC office.
6:00pm: The Peoples Democratic Party claims Oshiomhole, INEC plan to rig the governorship election at the electoral body’s collation centres.
The opposition party said that the delay by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to begin ward results announcement was a sign of the plan.
5:45pm: INEC tells Nigerians to disregard results on Social Media. Only INEC can do so, the electoral body warned.
5:05pm: Heavy security presence at INEC Headquarters, as the electoral body awaits the arrival of materials from local government wards.
4:50pm: At INEC Headquarters, stage is set for results announcement, but national officials are awaiting the results from the local governments.
4:45pm: Results compilation ongoing at the ward and then at the local government levels.
4:05pm: The candidate of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), Osaro Onaiwu, calls for total cancellation of poll. He alleges financial inducement and intimidation of Party loyalists.
2:46pm: Counting of votes begins in some polling units.
11:05am: Voting is ongoing at the polling centre in Agbado Primary School in Benin City.
INEC National Commissioner, Mrs Amina Zakari, says process has gone based on expectation.
She says that security agents are doing their work and the people of Edo State are doing what is expected of them.
10:40am: The poll got off to a smooth start in some polling centres at Esan West Local Government Area with good turnouts of electorates.
While voting takes place in an orderly manner, polling officers at the central primary school in Esan West say the entire process has been going on smoothly with little or no incidents with the card readers.
09:40am: At another polling point, election is going on peacefully.
The turnout of voters is massive with the presence of heavily-armed security operatives at the premises of the election venue.
08:45am: Ballot boxes are getting filled up. People with disabilities are also at the polling units to vote the candidate of their choice.
The election has been peaceful so far and voters hope that the process continues that way.
08:19am: Channels Television reports that voting has commenced in the state.
07:45am: Channels Television correspondent reports from Benin City, the Edo State capital.
Officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), security operatives and voters arrived the polling centre as early as 07:00am.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) in Edo State has raised alarm over what it called an alleged plot by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to unleash violence and cause confusion in the state during the governorship election.
The party, which is holding power in the state, claims that the plan would pave way for the opposition to rig the governorship election scheduled for September 10.
Militants From Delta
A statement by the party said “no less than 500 militants from Delta are being mobilised to critical areas of Edo State to carry out this evil plan using the waterways.
“The primary targets are Edo-North using the River Niger to access areas around Agenebode; Edo-South, via the Osse River; and Edo Central, via Ilushi River”.
Citing internal sources within the PDP, the APC also alleged that the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members recruited by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to participate in the conduct of the elections were being compromised by the PDP with the lure of huge financial rewards should they agree to act out their script to rig the elections.
“In their desperation to seize power at all cost, they have not only perfected plans to usurp the distribution of the Permanent Voters Card (PVCs) across the state but have already started acting it out as we have received reports that some PVCs meant for certain Local Government Areas have been hijacked by PDP thugs.
“We want to use this medium to call on the security agencies in the state, particularly the Nigerian Police Force, to investigate the matter expeditiously and immediately put in place measures to forestall their wicked plans, and maintain peace and order throughout this electioneering period.
“We also call on INEC to carry out due diligence on all its ad-hoc staff and monitor them closely so that those who have been compromised will not be allowed to carry out the PDP’s devious plans,” the statement read.
In his reaction to the alleged plot, the APC flagbearer, Godwin Obaseki, said: “We, in the APC, are not totally surprised by this distasteful development as the PDP is reputed for crude ‘do-or-die’ politics.
“We, however, want to state categorically that we will not be intimidated by their antics, and we will continue to push, through every legitimate means, our message of hope and prosperity.
“We are also confident that the good people of Edo State, having experienced unprecedented development and transformation of the state under the leadership of Comrade Adams Oshiomole of the APC, will vehemently resist any attempt by the PDP to halt the remarkable progress we have made, and lead us back to the dark days when our people watched helplessly as a few thieving politicians pillaged our commonwealth and nearly destroyed our state”.
Amidst uncertainty on the September 10 exercise due to recommendations for postponement by security operatives, Obaseki urged his supporters to be vigilant, and continue to conduct themselves peacefully as law-abiding citizens of Edo State.
Meanwhile the PDP has described the call for postponement of the election as shocking and a bizarre.
The party responded to the advice by security agencies in a statement by its spokesman, Dayo Adeyeye, on Wednesday.
After the advice was issued, the INEC said it had not received any official document advising it to shift the election and insisted that it would go ahead with the election as scheduled.
The newly appointed Commissioner of Police in Edo State, Mr Olafimihan Adeoye, says all security arrangements made so far to ensure a smooth conduct of the September 10 governorship election will remain untouched.
Mr Adeoye made the statement on Monday in an interview with Channels Television shortly after resuming work at the Police Headquarters in Benin City, the state’s capital in south-south Nigeria.
The Police Commissioner took over from Mr Chris Ezike who had been redeployed to the Police College in Ikeja, Lagos State.
Meanwhile, some candidates of the West African Examination Council (WAEC) of the General Certificate Examination (GCE) have called for the postponement of the Edo State governorship election.
The examination applicants voiced their demand in a protest, at the Government House in the state’s capital with placards bearing various inscriptions.
They said that holding the examination and the poll on the same day would disenfranchise them.
The GCE candidates also took their protest to the office of the Independent National Electoral Commission and the secretariat of the Peoples Democratic Party in Benin City.
The Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar, has emphasised the need for a violence free exercise in the coming Edo State governorship election.
The Sultan, who is also the President-General of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, made the call during the council’s visit to Edo State Government House in Benin City, the state capital in south-south Nigeria.
In his remarks, Governor Adams Oshiomhole commended the monarch’s visit and supported his call.
He noted that an individual’s conscience and not religion has a more important role to play in the decision concerning whom to vote for in any election.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has reiterated its commitment to concluding all inconclusive elections in Rivers, Imo, Kano and Kogi States before July 31.
The Chairman of INEC, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, made the announcement on Wednesday at the second quarterly meeting with Resident Electoral Commissioners in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.
He also used the medium to express the electoral umpire’s preparedness to conduct the end of tenure governorship elections in Edo and Ondo states.
Professor Yakubu said INEC was satisfied with the turnout of potential voters in Edo and Ondo States, saying over 100,000 persons registered in both states during the recently concluded continuous voter registration exercise.
On his part, the Resident Electoral Commissioner for Edo State, Sam Olumekun, also expressed satisfaction with the voter registration exercise in the state.
He noted that the commission was fully prepared to conduct the Edo State governorship election in September.
The Commission vowed to conduct the elections in the time frame, provided that all necessary consultations and activities leading to the elections were concluded on time.
INEC warned that in spite of its commitment, it would not return to conduct elections or hesitate to further postpone or discontinue the suspended elections in any area where there is imminent threat to lives, peace or security, especially where such threats were likely to lead to breakdown of law and order.
He said the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had sent the party their guidelines for the primaries, expressing preparedness to meet up with all the requirements set by the INEC for the September election.
The Senator Ahmed Makarfi-led Caretaker Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has condemned the move by Senator Ali Modu Sheriff to set up a primary election committee for the Edo State governorship election.
In a swift reaction, the Makarfi committee said Senator Sheriff was working with the enemies of the PDP to completely cripple the party in the interest of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
The committee insisted that the Edo primary election and all the processes leading to it thereof, were properly conducted, monitored and observed by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
“No Trace Of Any Court Order” The Makarfi committee made their stand known on Thursday evening in a statement by its publicity secretary, Prince Dayo Adeyeye, titled “Senator Sheriff & Co: Too Desperate To Destroy The PDP”.
They said Senator Sheriff had connived with some former and serving governors of the APC to deceive unsuspecting members of the PDP, security agencies and the general public to support his ambition to remain as Chairman of the party by claiming he has a court order.
“We have concluded our investigations and discovered that there is no trace of any court order obtained by Senator Sheriff or any of his cohorts either at FCT High Court or the Federal High Court in Abuja or any court in Nigeria,” the statement read.
The Makarfi committee then sent a stern warning to members serving in any committee set up by Senator Sheriff, saying such members would be engaging in anti-party activities and would face disciplinary action.
The Governor of Ebonyi State David Umahi and that of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole, are appealing for maturity among politicians and their supporters in Edo State in the conduct of their affairs ahead of the State’s governorship elections.
Governor Umahi stressed the need for a peaceful election in the state at a meeting with Governor Oshiomhole.
The meeting was held at the Government House in Benin City the capital of the state shortly after supervising the Peoples Democratic Party’s primaries in Edo State.
He said it was necessary that politicians and their followers to realise that the interest of the nation was above that of any political party.
Governor Oshiomhole on his part lauded the Ebonyi State Governor, stating that his gesture was one that should be emulated by party members.
The Ebonyi State Governor is a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) while Governor Oshiomhole is a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Both parties have elected their candidates for the election that will hold on September 10.
Osagie Ize-Iyamu won the primaries of the PDP while Godwin Obaseki won the ticket of the APC.
Mr Ize-Iyamu won a total of 584 votes to emerge winner, beating his rivals, Mr Matthew Iduoriyekemwen, who scored 91 votes to take the second place and Mr Solomon Edebiri who polled 38 votes to emerge third.
Mr Obaseki scored 1,618 votes to defeat his other opponents in the states.