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2019 Polls: Research reveals ‘systemic rigging plot’ in Edo

…Urhoghide, Ogbeide-Ihama, Igbinedion-controlled LGAs possess dubious figures of collected PVCs in 2 years
…group tasks INEC, DSS, Police on fraudulent spike in trend

As political parties conclude electioneering campaigns for the February 23, general elections across the country, a research body, Edo Socio-economic Research Group, has raised an alarm over what it fears may be a ‘systemic rigging plot’ by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Edo State.

In a statement issued in Benin City, the Edo State capital on Thursday, the group said that its latest research on the distribution of Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) across the state, revealed that “the Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs) collected in two (2) local governments of Edo State (Oredo and Ovia North East) in the last two years (2016 to 2018) exceeded the total number of PVCs collected in those LGAs in sixteen years, from 1999 to 2016.”

According to the group’s findings, the number of PVCs collected in Oredo Local Government Area from 1999 to 2016 was 151,010 (one hundred and fifty one thousand, ten).

“But in just two years, from 2016 to 2018, the number of PVCs collected in the same Oredo LGA, was 162,597 (one hundred and sixty two thousand, five hundred and ninety seven.)

The researchers noted that there are no known socio-economic developments in the LGA that could have increased the number of potential voters so significantly, from 151,010 in 17 years to 162,597 in only two years in Oredo LGA.

While hinting at a possible stockpiling or mop up of Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVCs), by agents of the PDP, the researchers discovered that in Ovia North East Local Government Area, the political base of House of Representative candidate of the PDP, Hon. Omosede Igbinedion, the number of PVCs collected in 17 years (from 1999 to 2016) stood at 71,045 (seventy one thousand and forty five).

But the number of PVCs collected in two years (2016 to 2018) hit an astronomical high of 71,846 (seventy-one thousand eight hundred and forty-six)!

They explained that “These discrepancies which occurred in only these two LGAs – Oredo and Ovia North East – out of the 18 LGAs in the state, are disturbing, viewed against the growing trend of PVC racketeering in parts of the state.

“However, in the other 16 LGAs, PVCs collected in the last two years (2016 to 2018) are lower than the PVCs that have been collected in each of the LGAs in the last sixteen years. This is more consistent with the normal trend,” the group said.

The research body noted that “The study also revealed that the wards, where this strange trend was most noticeable are those where candidates of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP); Senator Mathew Urhoghide, the PDP’s senatorial candidate; Hon. Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama, House of Representatives candidate and Hon. Omosede Igbinedion, House of Representatives candidate of the PDP, cast their votes.”

“Is this strange trend a mere coincidence or ‘systematic rigging’, especially as intelligence revealed that all these dubious PVCs are allegedly in the possession of these PDP candidates?” They queried.

A further breakdown of the number of new PVCs collected across the wards in Ovia North East and Oredo LGAs, showed frightening figures, from a low of four hundred and eighteen (418) to a high of one thousand four hundred and ninety-six (1496)

Of note is the 639 per cent increase in the number of PVCs added in Etete 1 NNPC Etete 1 polling unit, an area controlled by Senator Mathew Urhoghide, the PDP senatorial candidate in Edo South as well as other anomalies in polling centres in Okada, Etete II, Garrick Memorial Primary School, Urubi, Evbiemwen and Idia College.

The group called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Department of State Security (DSS), the Police and election observers to identify Oredo and Ovia North East as serious potential flashpoints ahead of the elections.

“We urge them to ensure that these anomalies which have been discovered are not allowed to determine or influence the outcome of the elections,” the group added.

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