By Leke Adeseri, South West Regional Editor & Dapo Akinrefon
The Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, has vowed to head to the tribunal to challenge the victory won by the PDP in last week’s by-election in the Ikorodu II Constituency in Lagos, after accusing the PDP of rigging the election with the apparent backing of President Goodluck Jonathan.
In a statement issued in Lagos yesterday by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said the ugly development in Ikorodu sends a wrong signal as to whether the 2011 general elections can be free and fair, despite repeated assurances by the President.
It accused the PDP of using intimidation and violence to ensure that the by-election was everything but free and fair.
We’ll win guber election – PDP
However, following its victory in the Ikorodu II State Constituency by-election held on Thursday, Lagos State chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Mr. Setonji Koshedo has spoken of the party’s readiness to win the 2011 gubernatorial election in the state.
Koshedo told newsmen in Lagos that the outcome of the by-election was an indication that the PDP would win future elections in Lagos in a free and fair contest.
He described the party’s victory in an ACN controlled area of Ikorodu as a sign of better things to come for the party saying “the result of the election has shown that in a free and fair election, PDP will always win. The point is that ACN has never won the state honestly.
“We have always believed in the PDP that the past election has been fraudulent. In most of the election we have had since the beginning of democracy in Nigeria about t12 years, if Lagos state has been having free and fair election, PDP would have been on top.
But the result of this election has shown that if free and fair election is held in Lagos state, PDP will always come top, which mean that the can, the ruling party in Lagos State has not always been winning elections naturally.”
ACN cries foul
Alhaji Lai Mohammed in substantiating the party’s allegation of the unfair victory for PDP said;
‘’Violence was reported in Ijede, Ginti, Igbogbo and Ewuelepe. There was no voter’s register in Surulere Estate and Offing in Igbogbo, known strongholds of ACN. Shooting and snatching of ballot boxes were reported at Ginti and Ewuelepe. There was over-militarization of the Constituency, with the invasion of mobile policemen, Immigration and Custom officers.
‘’There was also a massive influx of unregistered voters from neighbouring Ogun State, with the connivance of the heavily-compromised INEC officials. Overall, there was a massive disenfranchisement of registered voters in all strongholds of the ACN during the by-election,’’ ACN said.
The party said President Goodluck Jonathan set the stage for the election malfeasance and violence by his public statement urging the PDP to make sure it wins Lagos in 2011, a code word for do-or-die politics patented by former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
‘’That statement by the President laid the foundation for what transpired in Ikorodu, and is a sign of growing desperation by the PDP after seeing its stranglehold on the South-west broken by our party.
‘’It is unfortunate that President Jonathan, who has continued to assure Nigerians and the international community of the willingness of his administration to organise free, fair and credible polls in 2011, has allowed himself to be pushed off course by the desperation of his fast imploding party,’’ ACN said.
The party appealed to its supporters to be calm, as it would definitely seek a legal redress.
‘’In the true and tested tradition of our party, ACN, we will be mounting a robust legal challenge against the so-called PDP victory in the Ikorodu 2 Constituency by-election. It is a truism that none of the victories so far won by our party has come easy and cheap. But it is also true that justice has almost always prevailed for us. We have no reason to doubt that just will prevail again in the Ikorodu 2 Constituency election,’’ ACN said.