By GABRIEL ENOGHOLASE
BENIN—MINISTER of Works, Mr. Mike Onolemenme, Thursday, in Benin, Edo State, appeared before the election petitions tribunal sitting in the state over his alleged involvement in the last State and National Assembly Elections in Uromi, Esan North East Local Government Area of the state.
Onolemenmen, fourth respondent in the petition against the declaration of Mr. Friday Itulah (PDP) by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, as winner of the House of Representatives election for Esan North-East/Esan South-East Federal Constituency by Mr. Chris Ebare of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, was accused by the petitioner of using his position as former Minister of State for Defence to order soldiers, policemen and thugs to disrupt elections in polling Units 8 and 9 in Uromi.
He was also alleged to have ordered the uniformed men to beat up one Matthew Oko-Ebo, who had challenged him during the election.
During cross examination, the Works Minister denied the allegations, describing them as false. He added that at the time the election was conducted, he was just an ordinary citizen of the country.
He told the tribunal that his current position as Minister of Works and a member of the Federal Executive Council was effective from July 2011 and that he could not have done what he was accused of doing, insisting that he was not a military commander to deploy soldiers or order that anyone be molested during the election.
He said: “I never ordered the beating of anybody. The allegation by Oko-Ebo is not only false but a figment of his imagination.”
According to him, the election was free and fair, and the best he had witnessed in the history of elections in Nigeria.