By Omeiza Ajayi & Dirisu Yakubu
The All Progressives Congress APC has expressed concerns at the possible escalation of electoral violence in Urhonigbe and Owan West, accusing the Peoples Democratic Party PDP of intimidating voters and electoral officials.
Spokesman of the APC Media Campaign Council for Edo governorship election, Prince John Mayaki raised the alarm in a statement on Saturday.
In a swift reaction, however, National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan said the APC has become jittery about losing the election has resorted to instigating violence.
The Independent National Electoral Commission INEC had earlier confirmed that there was Sporadic shootings in Urhonigbe and that it was working with security operatives to halt the descent into anarchy.
Mayaki in his statement said; “Possibly taking a cue from Uhunmwode Ward 2, Unit 6, PDP agents have again ignited chaos in Urhonigbe North, Ward 7, Unit 4 located at Idunmwongo Primary School, Orhionmwon Local Government, where some presiding (INEC) officers have run away as a result of sporadic shootings by five PDP thugs.
“Still in the Council, at Ward 7, Unit 6, serious shootings by PDP have begun, chasing voters and INEC staff away, leaving many wounded. A development which has led to cancellation of voting in the Unit has led to voters making their way home. Further, at Esan West, Ward 4, Unit 11, miscreants working for the PDP are fighting APC agents, trying to drive them (the agents) away, while police personnel watch helplessly.
“It’s a reign of blunt coercion and intimidation as the PDP gunmen have seized control of the polling centre in Pius Odubu’s very enclave where APC enjoys generous support of voters. Also at Owan West, Ward 1, Units 3 and 4, PDP thugs have started chasing everyone away claiming APC is leading.
“It is same sad story for Esan North-East, where PDP is disrupting voting process, a situation which may degenerate into full-blown chaos, as APC tries to caution them.
“Again, all these are happening, despite heavy police presence, across the polling centres”, he said.
Mayaki further alleged that thugs also disrupted the process at Ward 4 in Oredo local government area of Edo State where the PDP candidate, Governor Godwin Obaseki voted.
He said; “Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate for the gubernatorial elections in Edo, Godwin Obaseki, has reportedly led thugs pretending to be his supporters to a polling unit in Benin City, Edo state, where they have commenced intimidation of voters and INEC officials.
“This was at ward 4 in Oredo local government area of Edo State where the governor arrived with a horde of supporters. They immediately commenced fighting with All Progressives Congress (APC) supporters and started sending them out of the field in Emokpea primary school mission road.
“It was reported that one of the thugs attempted to snatch the ballot box but he was immediately cautioned by other PDP thugs who told him that it was too early.
The governor, however, did nothing about the violent conduct of his thugs and reportedly pretended not to see the intimidation of APC supporters at the polling centre”.
‘APC instigated crisis at Obaseki’s PU’
However, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has denied the allegation that its candidate, Gov. Godwin Obaseki led thugs to his Unit 4 polling unit in Oredo Local Government Area of the state to disrupt the election.
The PDP while dismissing the allegation wondered why the APC is bent on creating crisis at Governor Obaseki’s polling unit, whereas its candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamuze-Iyamu voted with ease at his own unit.
Speaking with Sunday Vanguard, Mr Ologbondiyan said the APC “is scared of the reality,” adding that the crisis at the Emoekpae Primary School polling unit was the creation of the APC.
“APC is scared of reality. They are jittery and afraid of the evidential reality now staring them in the face. They are trying to create crisis in this election and we urge Nigerians, particularly the good people of Edo state, to be alert.
“One wonders why if their candidate, Pastor Ize-Iyamu could vote unhindered at his polling unit, the governor won’t be allowed to vote in peace? We won’t say more than this for now but we urge Nigerians to stay alert,” he said