Following weeks of political intrigues culminating in the recent ‘impeachment’ drama at the Edo State House of Assembly, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) on Friday dug fresh trenches around the umpire in the September 19 2020 governorship election in the state, Daily Times monitored the happenings.
PDP’s National Campaign Council for Edo Governorship election alleged there were plots by APC and its former national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, to procure extra result sheets, to be used for rigging the polls.
It also claimed that it had knowledge of how Oshiomhole and certain APC leaders have been mounting pressure on the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Yakubu Mahmood and other officials of the Commission, to secretly provide them with ballot papers and form EC8 election results sheet to facilitate plans for ballot stuffing and writing of election results.
The campaign council said it had information that the APC and its candidate have marked Edo North senatorial district as the place where the extra ballot papers and result sheets would be pushed to APC thugs, including those to be brought in from neighboring Kogi state.
A statement by Kola Ologbondiyan who is the Secretary, Publicity Sub-Committee, National Campaign Council said, already, a location has been established in a neighboring town of Kogi State which will be used as an operational base for the callous plots.
The party said, “Edo North has a borderline with Kogi, a state where unimaginable electoral violence, including burning a woman alive, was perpetrated by the APC in their desperation for electoral manipulation.
“The APC plot for the Edo election is reminiscent of last year’s governorship election in Kogi State where different election results sheets found their way to INEC collation centre where they were admitted and declared.
“The PDP campaign has information of how two APC governors from the South East and North Central respectively, are spearheading the plan and have also agreed to fund it. Our campaign invites Nigerians to note that this is the reason the APC candidate, Osagie Ize-Iyamu, is not campaigning but rather mobilizing his group of thugs, cultists and hoodlums, (lions and tigers) as seen in the viral video, to storm polling units to unleash violence on voters, knowing that there is no way he can win in the election.
“The PDP campaign is already aware of the plots to use the cultists and thugs (lions and tigers) to convey the illegal ballot papers, result sheets as well as dangerous weapons and charms to various polling units as well Edo election: PDP, APC shift battleground to INEC as provide illegal cover for APC agents to doctor results.
“Nigerians can now see why Oshiomhole described Ize-Iyamu as a fake pastor. Of course, as the saying goes: ‘Show me your friends and I will tell you who you are.’ We believe INEC and security forces have taken note of the direct criminal affront of the law by Ize-Iyamu, in openly directing his cultists and thugs to barefacedly flout election movement restriction order, and move from one polling unit to the other to execute their devilish plots.
“Nigerians should also take note of this reckless plot for chaos on election day by Ize-Iyamu, who is plotting to import violence, unleash bloodletting and derail the state because he has been rejected by the people. “We do not want to believe that our security agencies, who are paid to protect lives and property and to ensure credible and peaceful processes on election day have abandoned such onerous responsibility to political vagabonds in the APC to reenact such irresponsible acts as had taken place in the Kano, Osun, Kogi and Imo elections.
“Consequently, the PDP national campaign calls on the Inspector General of Police to stand up to the expectation of Nigerians by immediately inviting Ize-Iyamu to explain his directive to the cultists as well as arrest all the hoodlums shown in the video to forestall their plot of unleashing terror on the people of Edo state.
“Moreover, intelligence is filtering regarding alleged plots by certain agents of the APC to cover the tracks, by using certain means to silence some of the thugs after using them. In any case, our national campaign wants the APC, INEC, Ize-Iyamu and Adams Oshiomhole to note that we are not resting on our oars. Our campaign will lead the people of Edo state to resist this murderous band of electoral manipulators and use every means within the ambit of the law to stop them on their evil trails”.
The council cautioned the APC, Oshiomhole and concerned INEC officers, to retrace their steps as the wrath of people of Edo state awaits any person or group that attempts to rig the election. It further warned that the stiff resistance by the Edo people against attempts by Oshiomhole and Ize-Iyamu to forcefully take over the state legislature is a loud message to the APC and their agents.
But APC, while reacting to the PDP’s allegation, said the opposition party is jittery over the wide acceptance of Osagie Ize-Iyamu. Its deputy national publicity secretary, Yekini Nabena in a statement said: “Sensing the widespread acceptance and support the good people of Edo State have given the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu in the lead up to the forthcoming governorship election, the Peoples Democratic Party is clearly panicked and has resorted to childish and comical conspiracies.
“Procurement of result sheets, cloning of PVCs, stealing card readers, vote buying, voter intimidation and other election fraud is the PDP’s stock-in-trade. For us in the APC, it is one person, one vote. Our people focused development records are visible to all and the good people of Edo state are poised to make the right and progressive choice, come September 19. We reiterate that our security services must do everything to stop the PDP’s plan to unleash violence, intimidate voters and buy votes during the election”.
The APC assured its supporters that come September 19, votes will count and the will of the Edo electorate will prevail. Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has urged the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to avoid the pitfalls that affected the party’s victory in Rivers, Zamfara and Bayelsa States in the 2019 elections. Buhari also called on the party leaders and campaign team to do all that is necessary by following legal and constitutional means to win the election.
The president gave the charge when he received the Edo State governorship candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu alongside Gov. Mai mala Buni of Yobe, who is the Caretaker Committee Chairman of the APC. Gov. Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi, who doubles as the Chairman of Progressive Governors Forum and the APC Campaign Chairman for Edo State elections, Gov. Abdullahi Ganduje also accompanied the APC candidate to the villa.
With the resolution of the “acute crisis’’ in the party in Edo, Buhari said that he was optimistic that the party would regain its pride of place in winning elections and serving the people. The President urged party leaders at the national and state levels to follow the electoral process in an open and transparent manner. He said: “What I want is a transparent process so that the confidence of the people will be strengthened’’. The president congratulated Ize-Iyamu on his emergence as the party’s candidate in Edo after a “turbulent process’’, assuring him of full support.
Earlier in his remarks, the Chairman of the party’s caretaker committee, who presented the candidate, told the President that “Pastor Ize-Iyamu is a seasoned grassroots politician, who is loved by his people’’. Bagudu noted that President Buhari’s blessings on the candidate further validates the party’s confidence. He added that all the APC governors were fully behind the candidature of Pastor Ize-Iyamu.
The party’s campaign chairman for Edo’s election, Gov. Ganduje, said that in line with its principles, APC would lead a clean campaign, devoid of acrimony, hatred and violence. Ganduje noted the campaign had started on a good and happy note, with the APC already taking over the state legislature with a majority of 17 out of 24. In his response, Ize-Iyamu assured the President of his commitment to ensuring good governance in the state if elected in the September election. He recalled that he served as Deputy Chairman of the Constitution Drafting Committee of the APC at its formation.
Ize-Iyamu said he was glad to return to the APC, describing his initial exit as that of a “prodigal son’’. The APC candidate thanked the President for the warm and fatherly reception, saying he was honoured to receive the party’s flag from the President. Ize-Iyamu later told State House correspondents that he was fully in charge of his campaign as a popular candidate, who served the state as her Chief of Staff and Secretary to State Government in previous administrations.
He said that former APC Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, had already explained that his initial unfriendly comments during the 2016 campaigns were purely political aimed at giving another candidate an edge in the elections. In a related development, the Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC) has strongly condemned the unfolding political upheavals and rascality in Edo State. Addressing a press briefing in Abuja, IPAC National Chairman, Dr. Leonard Nzenwa said it was a dangerous misstep that can throw the entire Country into a major crisis. He however urged the parties involved to restrain themselves and play by the role and electoral guidelines.
“The nation cannot afford a political crisis in a state buffeted by insecurity and dire economic hardship visited on the people in an unending circle of lockdown.
“The council calls on all stakeholders to ensure that all hands will be on deck for the Edo and Ondo polls to hold successfully on a scheduled date as this nation cannot afford postponement or suspension on account of incivility of political actors in the State.
“We are aware that there are 12 other Political Parties that have fielded candidates for the polls in the state and would not allow our colleagues in two other political parties to disrupt preparation towards these polls by actions. We advise all concerned to toe the path of honour and engage in issue based campaigns.
“IPAC is aware of several pronouncements and judgments of courts of competent jurisdiction since the Edo State House of Assembly crisis that prevented some member select from being sworn-in. The Council urges all the parties to abide by these Courts pronouncements and judgments instead of resulting to violence at this critical time when the good people of the Edo State are preparing to elect their governor for another four years.”
He said that IPAC is currently monitoring the political situation in Edo State and is already invoking its inbuilt mechanism in resolving the intra and inter party crisis. Speaking further, IPAC urged the Independence National Electoral Commission, INEC, to be firm, open, transparent; be on the side of the people and disregard any unnecessary distraction to suspend or propone the election.
“We demand that INEC should do everything within its power to hold the election in Edo State. “We demand that all security agencies discharge their duties professionally, neutrally and obey the rules of engagement as they work toward ensuring that vote, mandate and will of Edo people count in the election.
“Council calls on President Muhammadu Buhari as commander in-Chief of the Armed Forces to ensure there is no breakdown of law and order in Edo State as the Nation embarks on the polls in the State.”
By Tunde Opalana, Abuja