By Simon Ebegbulem & Gabriel Enogholase,
Benin – Mr Jobinson Ogbuma of the AC has won theÂ House of Assembly re-run election for Etsako Central Local Government Council of Edo state held yesterday. He was leading in six of the 10 wards at press time. Voters turned out in large numbers for cast their votes.
Eight persons who were discovered to be fake agents of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) were also arrested after it was discovered that they were agents of one of the leading political parties in the state. The All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), the AC and the PDP contested the election. However, the leading candidates were Messrs Johnson Oghuma of the AC and Chris Umogbai of the PDP.
Security agents andÂ leaders of the Action Congress (AC) uncovered about 20Â persons impersonating as officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), for the election.
It was also learnt that security agents uncovered someÂ arms in a popular hotel in Benin City . It was gathered that the arms were billed to be ferried to Etsako Central for the re-run election, but following aÂ tip off, security operatives stormed the hotel and confiscated the arms.
Ten suspected thugs were arrested with the over twenty AK 47 guns and other dangerous ammunitions.
Former Chief of General Staff, Admiral Mike Akhigbe, former Deputy senate President, Senator Albert Legogie, Principal Secretary to Vice-President, Chief Mike Oghiadohme and a Chieftain of the PDP, Pascal Ugbome, State Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Kaduna Eboigbe, President of the African Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ), Rev. David Ugolor, described the election as generallyÂ free and fair.
No fewer thanÂ policemen manned each polling booth. About six Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs), was stationed at strategic areas in the area.Â Security was particularly fight in areas considered flash points, such as Fugar, Ekperi and Ogbona, where the chairman of the PDP in the state, Chief Dan Orbih, hails from.
Governor Adams Oshiomhole, monitored writing in the area from where the elections materials were being distributed at INEC office. He told newsmen yesterday, that â€œwe hope that with the presence of large numbers of policemen, we must enforce one man one vote. I do not care who wins, but we must conduct a free and fair election here. The credibility of the election is sacrosanct to meâ€.
However, there were attempts by some party Chieftains toÂ hijack ballot boxes at Ogbona, but they were resisted by youths at the polling station.
Admiral Akhigbe who spoke after casting his vote said: â€œ I am happy that every body is voting and you can see our people feeling happy that they have exercised their rights without being harassed. The young ones are happy. As a matter of fact, we were scared initially that the presence of policemen may stop people from coming out to vote. But our people are very enlightened, they still came out and cast their votes. This principle of one man one vote is going to be a movement that we all must sustain in Etsako Central and Nigeria as a whole.
On his part, Chief MikeÂ Oghiadohme said: â€œthe turn out is very impressive and the security is okay. But it is sad to hear that there is still a lot of unwarranted malpractices going on in some areas. But here that I voted is peaceful. This is a PDP Local Government, I can only say that it is expected that PDP will win.
Senator Legogie: â€œits been long our people saw a peaceful election like this. In an election like this, people are bound to accept the result. This is the kind of election that should be organized in Nigeria , if we conduct elections like this, there will be peace in the country. Like some body called me from a neighboring community Dabba, that this is the first time they are seeing ballot boxes. So if this is the only thing our people have enjoyed so far, we are very satisfiedâ€.
NLC Chairman, Eboigbe and Ugolor, who were among members of the civil society that monitored the election, described the election as very free, adding that â€œwe believe that this should be sustained because if we continue like this, our democracy will be betterâ€.
On his part, Ugbome stated that â€œin my own area where I voted, it was peaceful but I am yet to know what is happening in the other areas. I voted for my party (PDP)Â and I am very optimistic that we will win if the AC allows it to be free and fair in all the areasâ€. As at the time of filling this report, the votes are being counted but there are indications that the AC is leading in Anegbette and few other areas.