BY GABRIEL ENOGHOLASE
BENIN – EDO State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has alleged that the Edo State office of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), in collusion with the All Progressives Congress (APC), led government in the State have perfected what it called “evil plans” to sabotage the electoral process in some local government areas in the State during the February 16, 2019 elections.
State Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr. Chris Nehikhare, who raised the alarm at a press conference in Benin Wednesday, also alleged that there were plans by security agents to arrest some PDP leaders in the State with a view of keeping them out of circulation until after the elections with spurious charges and allegations.
He also alleged that the Edo State government has perfected plans to use its security outfit, “Wabaizigzan” to monitor the election saying that the Nigeria Police, Nigeria Army and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSDC) have enough men and material to provide security during the election, saying that the plan by the government to use its security outfit was unacceptable to the PDP unless it was planning to cause chaos in the state,
He said, “We have been reliably informed that voting would be postponed to a later day due to “logistical problems” in Orhionmwon/Uhunmwode, Ovia, Esan North-East/ Esan South-East, Akoko-Edo and Etsako federal constituencies. The aim is to have these constituencies as standalone elections where the federal government can unleash their agents of intimidation and harassment to full effect. The plan is barbaric, evil, a recipe for chaos and unprecedented people’s revolt and reaction.
“We use this medium to advise INEC to perish the thought! Edo people will not accept, condone or tolerate any display or exhibition of “deliberate incompetence” as excuse to sabotage the general elections. The logistical problem excuse is a lame one that will not fly. No excuse will fly! The election must hold simultaneously with other elections and no cooked up excuse or reason will be acceptable”
But in his reaction, Special Adviser to Governor Godwin Obaseki on Communication and Strategy, Mr. Crusoe Osagie said,
“It has come to our notice that members of the Edo State People’s Democratic Party (PDP) have resorted to conspiracy theories and wild claims around which to hang their imminent failure in the forthcoming general elections.
“Governor Godwin Obaseki is not the electoral umpire of the February 16 elections, neither is he a security agent, hence should be left out of the PDP’s conjectures.
“The governor is a known stickler for rules, due process and standard procedures, who believes in hard work.
“He is demonstrating this across the state by vigorously campaigning for candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC), and parading achievements that are tangible, measurable and verifiable. Obaseki points to projects with addresses and does not believe in conspiracy theories.
“Edo PDP’s outburst and their hurried efforts to create alibi for their imminent failure shows the party’s deep-seated fear (of epileptic proportion) of failure at the polls, come Saturday.
“They know their fate that they are going to fail as their candidates have no projects to show in Edo communities. Impactful projects, not contrived tantrums will decide the fate of candidates at the polls”.
However, Edo Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Mr Emmanuel Alex-Hart while reacting to the allegation by the opposition party that the Commission was colluding with the APC led government in the State to rig the election in favour of the latter under whatever guise, dismissed the allegation as untrue, just as he added that INEC had no plan to postpone elections in some local government areas of the State.
He told journalists that elections would be held simultaneously across the State on dates scheduled for such by INEC adding that however if there was any postponement, the directive would be from its National Headquarters and not from any individual.
However, continuing Mr. Nehikare said, “It’s also appropriate to alert Nigerians that we are aware of the plot by DSS and the Police to arrest our leaders with the aim of removing them from circulation the Wednesday before the elections and thus destabilizing our supporters and members.
“The intimidation and harassment of our leaders is unacceptable, tyrannical and exposes the desperation of this government to hold on to power even as it is clear that Nigerians have rejected them.
“We call on all Nigerians and the international community to condemn this act and prevail on the government to organize a free, fair and transparent election devoid of government intimidation and harassment. It is clear and unfortunate that they are paying lip service to a free and fair election”.