Edo State governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole yesterday accused some governors of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the South-South region of influencing the registration of 8,000 militants from neighboring states as eligible voters ahead of the postponed governorship election in the state.
Oshiomhole further alleged that PDP governors conspired with persons within the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) who made available data capturing machine in the residences of various opposition leaders.
Addressing the Inspector-General of Police, Mr Idris Ibrahim, who visited the Government House in Benin City, the governor said the alleged militants who were already armed with the Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) were assigned to unleash violence at designated polling units on election day.
INEC had on Thursday night yielded to the advise by security agencies to postpone the election due to security threat.
But Oshiomole, while speaking at the meeting with the IGP said, “Our opponents, unable to find local thugs to help them perpetrate violence which they have done between 1999 and 2007 when I took over, resorted to liaising with my brothers in the sub-region, Delta and Rivers in particular, to export criminals and militants into Edo State in order to make peaceful election impossible.
“In line with my tradition, I have always tried to speak out on any matter that I am worried about. I first raised the alarm on the eve of INEC continuing voters’ registration exercise, an exercise that has been designed to register those who have become 18 between the last registration and the current one.
“But these criminals who are determined to perpetrate violence and deny us the beauty of a peaceful election, unable to find local participants, have chosen to import these militants with the support of two or so of my brothers. When I say brothers, I mean brother governors. It doesn’t matter if I disagree with them; they are my brothers.
“They are exporting militants to Edo State to register so that with the PVC in their hands, they will appear to have the lawful basis to be present at the designated polling units where they are expected to unleash violence on election day.”
He continued, “When I raised this alarm, I should expect that naturally criminals are not as courageous as they seem. They denied that there was any such plan, but happily our ever vigilant, the peace-loving electorate were able to apprehend some of these people from other states that came into Edo State for the purpose of this exercise.
“At least, 13 of them were handed over to the police. The IG may wish to establish what has happened to those people who were handed over. So, we handed them over to the police in line with what we were expected to do as civilised people.
“Having done that, we are clear that there are a lot of people, up to 8000 of them who are non-resident in Edo State, who are not indigenes of Edo State, who are indigenes and residents of Delta and Rivers states and some other states in the South-South, some from Bayelsa state who have registered for the sole purpose not to swell the votes, but to be present in various locations on election day.
“Now, as part of the processes they put in place to effect this, they had conspirators in INEC that made available to them data capturing machine in the residences of various opposition leaders. We shared these experiences with the police and the DSS.”
On his part, the Inspector-General of Police, Mr Idris Ibrahim who said he was on a working visit to the state said, “Our presence here shows the synergy between the security agencies working in the state.
“This is an assurance that there is a lot of cooperation between us and other security agencies, and it is an assurance that we are definitely sure that in a few days’ time, we are going to have a successful governorship election in Edo State.”
The IGP added: “Let me use the opportunity to brief you on some of our plans for the election. Within the police, we are deploying about twenty-five thousand reinforcement to the command, and these twenty-five thousand will compose of conviction police officers, mobile police officers, counter-terrorists, marine police, air wing.
“We are going to deploy air support to the people on the ground, with a medical team also, including the waterways. They are going to cover the waterways. And we are bringing some reinforcement of gunboats to support our patrols on the water. This obviously we are doing to ensure that this election is provided maximum security.
“This governorship election, I think is the first, apart from the Rivers election which has been postponed that we are going to carry out. So, we are very serious about this election. The men are going to report about three days to the election date and this will enable them to take care of most of the flash points in the state. We expect that on the election day we are not going to record any problem.”
Similarly, Oshiomhole, while receiving a team of European observers led by Ben Llewellyn-Jones, of the British High Commission, at the Government House, Benin City, stated that PDP is accustomed to rigging and can’t boast of a transparent election in other states in the South-South geopolitical zone.
He said Edo is the only state that has been able to dismantle the PDP rigging machine and will do so again on the rescheduled date for the state’s gubernatorial election.
He however decried the confusion that trailed the postponement of the election. He charged security agencies to do everything possible to make peaceful elections possible just as he called on INEC to carry all stakeholders along in making decisions.
Meanwhile, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday traded blames over the postponement of the election.
PDP, while expressing shock that election was postponed in state like Edo without security challenges, stressed that the phantom security advise was orchestrated in connivance with the APC in the face of their imminent defeat.
Publicity Secretary of PDP, Chris Nehikhare said “We are taken aback by the rash security advice a day after the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, was present at the final campaign rally of the APC in Benin City, which was concluded without any security hitch.’’
But APC dismissed the claim by the PDP that the postponement was orchestrated by the APC in connivance with security agents as nonsensical.
State chairman of the APC, Barrister Anselm Ojezua who stated this in a press conference in Benin lamented the failure to consult critical stake holders before announcement of the postponement.
While regretting the time and resources that have been expanded on electioneering campaign these past weeks, he however said infiltration of militants allegedly recruited by the PDP calls for serious concern.
He said, “First, the shift in the date for the election was announced without due consultation with the critical stakeholders which includes the All Progressives Congress (APC). We believe that the timing and mode of communication by the security agencies could have been better handled having regards to the very hard work and huge resources deployed towards the election by all concerned”.