OBASEKI-Ize-Iyamu

Edo: PDP And Burden Of Proof Over Electoral Irregularities

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PATRICK OCHOGA writes on the spate of protests by the PDP over the outcome of the recent governorship election in Edo State.

It is no longer news that Edo State now has governor-elect, Godwin Obaseki, who will take over from the incumbent governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhiole on November 11, 2016.

Prior to the September 28 governorship election, the two major political parties in the state, All Progressive Congress, (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP), had engaged in vigorous electioneering, wooing voters across the 18 local government areas and the 192 political wards in the state.

For the PDP, its popularity soared when the leadership of the party and members settled for former Secretary to the Edo State Government, (SSG), Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu as the candidate of the party. Many had thought that his candidacy will bring electoral victory to the party because of his political experience and doggedness.

For many analysts, under the PDP administration, from 1999 to 2007, governance took flight from the state as the period witnessed total collapse in virtually all sectors of the state. The people languished in pain of bad leadership until the advent of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole who took over governance in 2008.

The Oshiomhole administration on assumption of government immediately embarked on massive construction and rehabilitation of decayed infrastructure in the state which include the building and renovation of primary schools, erosion control projects, urban beautification, road construction and expansions.

The infrastructural development and successes recorded by the APC government endeared the people to the APC as a political party that is people oriented and which had seen the party winning elections since Oshiomhole took over.

Subsequently, as the 2016 governorship election approached the APC was quick to remind the people of the state of affairs when the PDP held sway and it was easier for the electorates to queue behind the party that brought them development.

While the PDP hinged its campaign on what they called “Simple Agenda” and accused the ruling APC of corruption and plunging the state into huge debts, the party’s unflattering past has, nevertheless, continued to affect its electoral fortune as a party that, arguably, brought untold hardship to the people.

As the governorship election approached part of alleged plans by the PDP to turn the tide against the APC were secret inducement of staff and students of Auchi Polytechnic and University of Benin to be used as adhoc staff for the election. The plot was to have the adhoc staff do their biddings. But to their shock INEC was said to have gone to Ekiti to recruit officials for the election.

In addition, they were accused by Oshiomhole of importing militants before the postponed election, their plans according to the governor was to cause mayhem and then announce the fake results which they had earlier posted on the internet as the authentic results for the election. But when elections were postponed the militants were weeded out of the state and they became frustrated.

It was later learnt that the same results was planted on face book and other social media now claiming the election was rigged, while INEC announced the results collated from the fields which were the authentic results. They were in possession of fake result sheets which they were unable to plant in INEC.

 

On election day, the PDP were allegedly said to have used two buses belonging to a popular transport company in Benin City, the Edo State capital, to ferry money to different centers, inducing voters. They allegedly hacked into Obaseki Campaign organization websites and took hold of information and vital election arrangements.

However no sooner than Godwin Obaseki was declared winner of the election last Thursday than protesters thronged the state capital. The PDP accused the Independent Electoral Commission, (INEC) of colluding with the State government and manipulating the results in favour of the APC.

It would be recalled that two days to the election, the PDP specifically said it had it on good authority that Oshiomhole had bribed electoral officers deploy to conduct the election to a tune of N2million each, an allegation the APC described as a “clear signs of defeat awaiting the PDP”.

Still, as protests and counter protests continue to trail the outcome of the election the State Chairman of PDP, Chief Dan Orbih last week said it would challenge the outcome of the Edo State governorship election at the election petitions tribunal.

He explained that the party would leave nothing to chance to prove that the result were manipulated and also expose the alleged corruption and incompetence of the electoral commission.

Orbih said, “Of course, we are going to file our petition at the election petitions tribunal. We will give it our all. If nothing else, to expose to Nigerians how corrupt and incompetent the INEC is, under its present leadership. Our lawyers are busy; they are working. Until they formally file a petition, all I can say is that we are going to challenge the result of this election at the tribunal.”

“We will pursue this matter to the logical conclusion and I believe that the judiciary has a role to play to save  democracy and give Nigerians hope that, in a country where people do things with impunity, people can still approach the judiciary for justice,” he added.

On whether the party was convinced that the outcome of the tribunal would not end in favour of the candidate returned elected by the INEC, as was the case in Bayelsa and Kogi, Orbih noted that the PDP would give the tribunal the benefit of doubt.

According to him, “What happened in Kogi is not what has happened in Edo. What happened in Bayelsa is not what has happened in Edo.  We must give that benefit of doubt, rather than resort to self-help or taking laws into our hands. We want to test this obvious fraudulent manipulation of ‎INEC, in collaboration with the state government, in the election result in the judiciary.”

Undeterred by PDP’s plan to head to the tribunal, celebration continued in Obaseki’s camp just as goodwill messages flood the campaign office of Investment banker and the governor-elect.

Governor Adams Oshiomhole who led the APC victory party in Benin City, danced round the streets of Benin and markets, in company of Obaseki, expressing his gratitude to the people. Oshiomhole said victory at the just concluded polls has ended the dreams of some political godfathers in the state and vowed that the state will never go back to the dark days.

While the PDP is threatening to head to court to contest the result of the election, Benin City stood still last Thursday for Obaseki and the Deputy Governor elect, Philip Shaibu, when they received the Certificate of Returns from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

The Resident Electoral Commissioner in the state, Mr Sam Olumekun and the INEC Commissioner incharge of the South South zone, Dr Mustapha Lecky, described the election as one of the most credible conducted by the Commission recently but however noted that the commission will continue to improve on the use of card readers.

As members of the APC and residents of the state continue to roll out drums to celebrate the victory of Obaseki, a chieftain of the APC and Special Adviser to the Governor on Political Matters, Charles Idahosa, adduced reasons why the PDP is angry over the conduct of the elections just as he described their cry as a deceit “because they knew from day one including Ize-Iyamu that they will lose the election in as much as their rigging machine failed to work”.

He said:  “you can see the mammoth crowd following Obaseki round the streets with joy because that is the governor they voted for. Let me tell you why PDP is crying. While we were campaigning vigorously across the nook and cranny of the state, PDP were busy trying to induce adhoc staff of INEC including the NYSC members who were going to participate in the conduct of the election.

“To tell you how desperate they are, they went to Auchi Polytechnic and UNIBEN, identified the lecturers who were going to be used by INEC for the election and bribed each of them. When we found out, we raised the alarm and in other to ensure they conducted a credible election, INEC went to a neighbouring PDP state to bring adhoc staff. That was how they failed in this one. Then they decided to import militants into the state and their game plan was that on the day of the election, the militants will perpetrate mayhem particularly in Oredo, Ikpoba Okhai and Egor, then get some INEC officials who will help them smuggle in their own result which they have written already into INEC.

Continuing he added “The PDP are in possession of result sheets which they are parading today as the authentic result and as a matter of fact we are asking INEC to prosecute them. However, when the first election was postponed, they were hooked because security agents mopped up the militants in their different hide outs in the state they were demobilized. So in the main election, they were stuck with those results because nobody to perpetrate violence that will enable them smuggle that result into INEC, because their earlier plans was to force those results on INEC officials with the help of militants. It was those same results they went to place on the internet claiming it was the main result.

“How can you release an authentic result on the internet when people were still collating results from the various units and wards. They did that to confuse the people and create the impression that they are winning so that Pastor will not claim that he was rigged out.

On the allegation that the APC induced voters stated  “They are accusing APC of inducing people with money on the day of the election, is also laughable. PDP on that very day used buses belonging to two popular transporters here in Benin to ferry money to different polling units across the state. The PDP god father was losing Uromi that day, one of his boys a former Minister immediately ferried money to save him from defeat. They were paying people as much as N2,000 we have the evidence. So when they open their mouth to accuse APC of rigging I laugh because if we had rigged the result would never have been close the way it is today. They wanted to use the style they used to rig in Rivers and Bayelsa here but our people thwarted it.

“The moment we stopped them from perpetrating violence they were caged. Though they still tried to intimidate our people in Edo Central using security agents and thugs but we still resisted them. PDP lost because it is clear to Edo people that voting for Ize-Iyamu means the return of the god fathers and the Igbinedions and they said no, they want the development Oshiomhole has started to continue. So that is why PDP is frustrated and I feel sorry for them. They are down and out. Now they have resorted to be paying innocent citizens to be demonstrating for them, suppose we ask our supporters to come and demonstrate for us, wont we chase them out of the streets? But we decided to be calm because we know they are trying to push us into violence so as to dent the name of Oshiomhole and discredit the result of the election, but they are wasting their time”.

Oshiomhole  also led the Governor Elect and his deputy Hon Phillip Shaibu to the Crown Prince of Benin Kingdom and said the party is ready to exposed PDP’s rigging at the tribunal noting that the Plan of God for Edo people cannot be changed.

“We are happy with the outcome of the election. We have gone to present the candidate to the Crown Prince, the Edaiken N’Uselu, and he (Obaseki) has been very well received. Thank you for coming out to celebrate. I am sure we encourage our opponents to go to court. We will be able to lead evidence to show how much they profited from electoral fraud because the Ize-Iyamu that I know is not worth fifty thousand votes. So, it’s like an armed robber rushing to the police station with bullet wounds and claiming that he has been shot, whereas he is the one who opened fire on very innocent people. We will expose them where it matters in our courtrooms.  Remain firm and resolute. For me, I am happy. The political funeral of the godfathers is final.

“There is nothing they can do to turn the will of God. So, this is our finest hour and I can’t wait to meet them in court. My message to them is, whether it’s Igbinedion, whether it’s Anenih, whether it’s Ikimi, it’s not me, it’s God who knows their sin against our people that decided to recall their political life. He has only used us to cement it and to celebrate their political funeral. I want to be remembered not only for the road. We want to be remembered for liberalising the politics and getting rid of godfathers so that you the youths can take charge of your destiny. Thank you for being part of this struggle, and to God be the glory.”

 

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