By Clifford Ndujihe, Dapo Akinrefon, Olasunkanmi Akoni,John Alechenu, Dennis Agbo, Egufe Yafugborhi, Rotimi Ojomoyela, Olayinka Ajayi, Bashir Bello & Chinonso Alozie, LAGOS
Two days before the governorship and state assembly elections, candidates and political parties, yesterday, traded accusations over plots to unleash violence and rig the exercise.
The accusations and counter-accusations were made as the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, commenced the distribution of election materials across the 774 local councils of the country.
Distributing the election materials to the 16 LGAs of Ekiti State, the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Professor Ayobami Salami, assured citizens of the state of free, fair and credible elections on Saturday.
“INEC is prepared, we are more prepared than we were during the Presidential election and we would put everything in place to ensure a free, fair, credible and laudable election.”
Across the states, the other RECs spoke in like manner.
APC, LP, PDP, SDP fight dirty in Lagos
In Lagos, the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC; Peoples Democratic Party, PDP; Labour Party, LP; and Social Democratic Party, SDP, were at one another’s jugular over alleged plots rig the elections.
Cartels in Lagos against me — PDP candidate
The PDP Governorship Candidate, Olajide Adediran, who presented his wife, Mariam, who arrived from the United States of America to stakeholders at his Liberty House campaign office, exposed moves by cartels and godfathers in PDP and APC to work against his victory.
Jandor, however, expressed confidence to triumph at the end of the day, against all odds, saying “the battle is of God and not of Jandor or of any godfather.”
Addressing the crowd, mainly women leaders and members of PDP across 20 Local Government Areas of the state, he said he was aware of some godfathers in PDP, who had decided to ensure his defeat at the Saturday polls by endorsing and working for Labour Party candidate, Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour, as well as APC, apparently referring to PDP chieftain, Bode George and President-elect, Bola Tinubu.
He said: “We are all aware of the whirlwind in the polity towards this governorship polls in Lagos as a result of activities of some godfathers in PDP and APC, who are bent on subverting the wishes of the majority.
“The leaders have been beating the drums of war for the last few weeks with provocative statements, harassment and propaganda. But am sure all these will soon subside. God has exposed them as they are beating the drums of war.
“Because I resisted the move by a godfather in PDP to pick Rhodes-Vivour as my deputy, they lured him (Rhodes-Vivour) to Labour Party to confront us and stop our dream but this will definitely fail. We are resolute in attaining victory. We have worked hard for it in the last 10 years. The new wave of LP will not stop us.”
Also, the PDP in Alimosho LGA raised an alarm over what it termed attempts by the APC to manipulate the elections against the wish of the majority in the state.
Making the allegation, PDP Chairman of Alimosho LGA, Shodiya Isiaka, at a media briefing at the party’s secretariat in Alimosho called on the umpire INEC to be proactive and ensure free, fair and credible exercise.
I’m worried about intimidation, and harassment of voters — Carew, SDP assembly candidate
Speaking on the issue, Mr Lanre Carew, the Kosofe Constituency 1 Lagos House of Assembly candidate of the SDP, said: “I am concerned about intimidation and harassment. We are already seeing it in APC. They are harassing people, threatening them for liking another person. They go about threatening my supporters. They threaten them with their jobs and harass them where they live. They go as far as using traditional rulers to harass people who stay in some areas. They threaten them to vote for a particular party. We hear rumors that they want to cause mayhem because of how the ‘Obi wave’ swept everywhere. The truth is that we are not scared.”
Daniel, LP Ajeromi-Ifelodun candidate concurs
Also, Mr. Segun Daniel, the LP House of Assembly candidate for Ifelodun Ajeromi Constituency 1, Lagos, alleged that his life and that of LP supporters and agents were being threatened by some groups of thugs who he alleged had been intimidated and threatening that nobody should come out to vote for LP or any other party except for the APC
Daniel, a lawyer, said: “Shocking among them are some Baales using microphones and megaphones to lay curses on people that will ever vote for Labour Party or any other party except the APC.
The Baales threatened to cause serious harm to anybody especially those that will not vote for APC candidates in the forthcoming Saturday election.”
APC kicks as Lagos indigenes endorse Rhodes-Vivour
Meanwhile, prominent indigenes of Lagos State under the auspices of Eko Forum, yesterday, endorsed the LP Governorship Candidate, Mr Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour, who they described as a proper son of the soil.
In a statement by its Chairman and General Secretary, Alhaji Ismaila Williams and Elder Olawale Ogundimu respectively, the forum said the decision to back Rhodes-Vivour was taken at the end of an extraordinary meeting on Sunday.
The statement reads: “Members of the Eko Forum from all the 20 local governments, as well as all the 37 local council development areas, met on Sunday in Lagos.
“Members took the decision to support Arc Rhodes-Vivour after carefully appraising the credentials of all other candidates that have put themselves forward to be elected.
“On behalf of the members of our Forum, we want to disabuse the minds of unsuspecting residents that the Igbo ethnic nationality will take over Lagos if Rhodes-Vivour wins.
“Igbo have been living with us in Lagos from time immemorial peacefully; we have intermarried and done a lot of things together for a long time. They never dragged the ownership of our land with us since and why will they do that now?
“This is cheap propaganda which we appeal to our people not to fall for.”
Their endorsements stand for nothing —Lagos APC
However, the Publicity Secretary of the APC, Mr Seye Oladejo, said the party will not be distracted noting that the endorsement of Rhodes-Vivour will not stand.
Oladejo said: “Anybody can claim the indigeneship of Lagos State at a time like this. As you know, we are in the peak of elections and it is always convenient to play up any story but we are not distracted by any of that.
“Most of the endorsements they are doing stand for nothing and I can assure you that on Saturday, Governor Sanwo-Olu will be re-elected. His works in the last four years will speak for him and Lagosians sincerely appreciate that. They will re-elect him, there is no doubt about that.”
Jandor not in the race —APC
Also dismissing the allegations of rigging by the PDP candidate and others against the APC said Adediran is not in the race.
“My sympathy goes to the young man because he worked so hard but he fell like a pack of cards some days to the election. He is not even in the race. To stay relevant, he wants to cook up stories by moonlight as his excuse. I think that is his strategy. He is looking for an excuse for his imminent loss.”
5 Rivers gov candidates bicker with PDP over rigging plots
In Rivers, five governorship candidates accused the INEC of a plot to rig the polls in favour of the PDP, an accusation the ruling party dismissed as unfounded.
The candidates, who raised the alarm were Tonye Cole of the APC, Sobomabo Jackrich of the National Rescue Movement, NRM; Dr Dawari George of the Action Alliance, AA; Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs of Accord, and Chief Tonte Ibraye of the African Democratic Congress, ADC.
The worried candidates in a joint statement saidthey were reliably informed that Governor Nyesom Wike, “has instructed all Local Government chairmen as chief security officers of their respective domain to carry out what he calls ‘Operation No Mercy’ on every other party agent.
“Council Chairmen are to ensure agents representing their parties’ interests do not have access to the Collation Centres. The PDP Government of Rivers has also assured INEC officials of their safety provided they comply with PDP agents to manipulate the process before taking it out to the State Collation Centre.”
In view of the foregoing, the five candidates urged the “INEC and every relevant authority to stop all government officials from accessing the collation centres in accordance with Section 43(1) of the Electoral Act 2022, prohibiting government officials from acting or serving as agents to political parties at elections.
“INEC and relevant security authorities should restrict movement of all Rivers Government officials beginning with Governor Wike down to the chairmen of councils. INEC should ensure all categories of officials prohibited by the Electoral Act stay away from the Collation Centres as their presence will compromise the process.
“That only persons who are party agents according to law and designated INEC officials should have access to the Collation Centres at the Ward, LGA and State levels and only party agents allowed access to the collation centers.”
Rivers PDP reacts
The PDP, in a response, a principal official of the Rivers PDP Campaign Council, said:”By the tone of the allegation, it is a clear case of giving a dog a bad name to hang it.”
Speaking on condition of anonymity, he said: “Five candidates woke up to say INEC wants to rig elections for PDP. How? By what is the proof? It is so unfounded. Anybody can raise such baseless allegations. We know why the morbid fear. None of them stands a chance against Sim Fubara.
“Aside being most qualified, Fubara is riding on the platform of a Rivers PDP that has done so well under Governor Nyesom Wike’s administration. Again they will emerge sore losers on Saturday.”
Protest rocks Imo INEC, PDP vows to resist rigging
In Imo State, the PDP, staged a protest at the Owerri office of the INEC, and vowed that it would resist any attempt to rig the assembly polls in the state. There will be no governorship election in Imo, this weekend.
The protest was led by Imo State PDP Chairman, Charles Ugwuh.
Ugwu said: “The leadership of the PDP writes to complain and to decry in no uncertain terms the series of atrocities committed by both regular and ad hoc staff of INEC, in connivance with the members of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, concerning the Presidential and National Assembly elections in Imo State, which were held on February 25, 2023.
“We were indeed taken aback at the brazenness of the electoral heist perpetrated against our respective parties, and the people of Imo State after the official conclusion of voting, when it had become obvious that the ruling APC was losing massively all over the state.
“It is on record that in Okigwe LGA, elections did not hold in seven electoral wards namely: Ihube, Agbobu, Ndimoko, Ofeimo/Ibinta/Okanachi/Umuowa Ibu, Aku, Umulolo, Ogii, and Amuro Wards, but over 40,000 votes were fraudulently manufactured and credited to APC in this LGA which recorded less than 3,000 authentic votes from the other four wards where elections took place.
“The reckless impunity was replicated in other Local Government Areas, such as Aboh Mbaise, Ehime Mbano, and Oguta, and indeed results from Jigawa State were uploaded and transmitted to INEC’s IREV Portal, in place of the authentic results from those areas.
For Orsu, Oru East, and parts of Orlu LGAs where elections did not hold at all, results from the same Jigawa State were equally uploaded and transmitted to the IREV Portal as results from those areas; and all these were scandalously accepted by your Commission, and declared as real.
“We were also bewildered that on March 10, 2023, fictitious results concocted by your staff and APC agents for Okigwe and other LGAs were being uploaded to the IREV portal in place of the earlier results from Jigawa State. This is indeed a clear indication that your office manipulated the BVAS machines, contrary to INEC’s claims that the machines were programmed to automatically shut down at the end of voting at polling units. We are still wondering how this magic was possible.”
“In the light of the above, we are hereby serving notice to you, members of your staff, and any other interested persons that we shall no longer condone any form of manipulation, or any other acts capable of undermining the corporate will of the people, and the integrity of our electoral system. The people shall resist any act by your Commission or by any other persons, intended to subvert their popular preferences,” he said.
We’ll deal ruthlessly with trouble-makers — DIG
Meanwhile, the Deputy Inspector-General of Police supervising North-West, DIG Hafiz Inuwa, has warned trouble-makers to steer clear of Kano State or bear the brunt should they foment trouble and attempt to disrupt the governorship and state assembly elections.
The DIG stated this while briefing newsmen on the level of preparedness of the police for the elections.
Inuwa said: “I’m here to talk to our officers and men on the need that we must be firm, focused and professional in the discharge of our duties. The police will remain apolitical. We belong to everybody and we belong to nobody. If you obey the rules, certainly we will be with you. But whoever tries to test out collective responsibility and tries to foment trouble, we are ready to deal with the person ruthlessly especially here in Kano.”
Edeoga remains our Enugu gov candidate — LP
The National Chairman of the Labour Party, Mr Julius Abure has declared that Chijioke Edeoga remains the party’s candidate for the Enugu State Governorship Election.
Abure said the clarification became necessary in the light of speculations to the contrary being championed by opponents who were desperate toi unduly benefit from the winning wave of Obidients and the Labour Party.
He said: “The attention of the Party has been drawn to some attempts by some struggling governorship candidates to tap into the anointing of the Obidients/Labour Party Candidate, Chijioke Edeoga by trying to de-market our candidate instead of selling themselves.
“For the umpteenth time, we want to reiterate that in Enugu State, the Obidients do not have any partnership with anybody or party and directs all our Enugu State Obidients and teeming party supporters to disregard any statements or moves by candidates of other political parties to harvest where they did not sow.
“Our Candidate is Mr Chijoke Edeoga. Vote for him and all Labour Party Candidates for the House of Assembly massively on Saturday.”
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