The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will today prove their mettle in the by-elections holding in the four states of Katsina, Bauchi, Kwara and Cross River.
The by-elections will be the last off-season polls before the 2019 general election and will offer opportunity to both leading parties to show how prepared they are.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had last week released the names of political parties and their candidates for the by-elections in the four states.
The by-elections are for Kankia/Kusada/lngawa Federal Constituency of Katsina State, Toro Federal Constituency of Bauchi State, Ekiti/lrepodun/Isin/Oke-Ero Federal Constituency of Kwara, and lkom ll State Constituency of Cross River State.
According to INEC, four political parties submitted nominations for the Kankia/Kusada/lngawa Federal Constituency by-election as at November 6, which was the deadline for the submission of Forms CF001 and CF002.
The parties and their nominated candidates are Peoples Redemption Party (PRP), Nasiru Kankia; Yes Electorate Solidarity (YES), Abdullahi Umar; PDP, Abdussamad Abdullahi, and APC, Abubakar Kusada.
The Commission also disclosed that two political parties submitted nominations for Toro Federal Constituency by-election: PDP with Shehu Umar as candidate, APC with Yusuf Nuhu as candidate.
For Ekiti/lrepodun/Isin/Oke-Ero Federal Constituency, five political parties nominated candidates, including the Labour Party, Femi Ana-Ara, and the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), Olaniyan Ayorinde.
In Kwara, the state government has expressed concern about the arrests of PDP stalwarts in Ekiti, Isin, Oke-Ero and Irepodun Federal Constituency ahead of today’s by-election.
The state government, in a statement by Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed’s special assistant on media, Dr Muhideen Akorede, said it had become aware of the reported arrests of PDP members in the four local government areas by security agencies without lawful justification.
The state chapter of the PDP had also condemned the alleged attacks on residences of some of its top members in Oke-Ero, Isin, Ekiti and Irepodun local government areas by armed security operatives deployed for the by-election.
The state government said while it recognised the right of security agencies to maintain law and order, this should not be done in a manner that intimidates members of a political party while seeming to pave the way for members of another party.
It called on security agencies to resist any attempt to use them to execute political agenda or any unlawful activity, but to be neutral and obey the rule of law in carrying out their duties.
The state government also called on citizens and residents not to be intimidated by the strong security presence across the state, but to the exercise their constitutional right to choose their representatives without fear or intimidation.
The PDP, in a statement by its state publicity secretary, Tunde Ashaolu, described the alleged attacks as reprehensible, unwarranted and unjustifiable, stressing that the action of the security officials reeks of unprofessionalism and amounts to the violation of human rights.
The statement reads in part: “In what was a Gestapo-like operation, a combined team of Nigerian Police Force and Department of State Services (DSS) invaded the residence of a PDP chieftain in Egosi community of Oke-Ero local government, Chief Joseph Adeniyi, a.k.a. Azeez Egosi, at about 2am today.
“Chief Adeniyi narrowly escaped from the house but his son, who is a soldier, was arrested and taken to an unknown destination by the security officers. The security operatives also attacked the residences of some PDP stalwarts in Oke-Ero.
“Likewise, the chairman of PDP in Iwo ward of Isin local government area, which is the ward of the former deputy governor of Kwara, Prince Joel Ogundeji, was also arrested by the security men. A couple of our members in Ajase-Ipo have also been arrested.”
The PDP described the attacks as acts of impunity and an attempt to suppress and intimidate its members ahead of the by-election holding today.
It continued: “When we alerted Nigerians and the international community that the APC-led federal government had perfected plans to clamp down on our members ahead of the election, some said we were raising a false alarm, but here we are today.
“The FG and APC should, however, know that the PDP will never succumb to their desperate tactics and acts of intimidation. We remain resolute and very optimistic of winning the election.”
The party further called on the people of Ekiti, Isin, Oke-Ero and Irepodun to remain calm and law-abiding in the face of the molestations thrown at them by the APC.
The PDP also urged both local and international observers to appeal to President Buhari and the APC to stop these needless violations of human rights and abuse of state institutions.
“They should allow the people to exercise their rights by freely choosing their representatives without fear or intimidation,” it added.