Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State yesterday fired a broadside at his Delta and Rivers States counterparts for allegedly registering 8, 000 militants in his state for the purpose of manipulating the September 28 governorship election.
He observed that Governors Nyesom Wike (Rivers) and Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta) were neck deep in plans to “make peaceful election impossible” when the people of Edo go to the polls to elect their next governor in two weeks time.
“Our opponent, 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,” Oshiomhole said when he received the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris during a courtesy visit at Government House, Benin City.
The PDP said the allegation was baseless.
Originally scheduled for today, the election was shifted at the instance of the Department of State security and the police who said that security reports at their disposal suggested that the terror sect, Boko Haram, had perfected its plan to unleash terror on the state if the election were to proceed today.
Oshiomhole, who also hosted a team of European observers yesterday, said the PDP has a reputation for rigging especially in the South-south. He said he first smashed the opposition’s rigging machine by eventually winning the much manipulated 2007 election. “I fought them through the legal process. Painstakingly established how I was rigged out, I got my mandate restored. It never happened before, and nobody appreciates the essence of free and fair election more than myself,” he said to the observers.
During his meeting with the IGP, Oshiomhole said: “In line with my tradition, I have always tried to speak out on any matter that I am worried about. I first raised this alarm on the eve of INEC Continuing Voters’ Registration exercise, an exercise that has been designed to register those who have become eighteen 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.
“When I raised this alarm, I should expect naturally that they are not as courageous as they seem. They denied that there was any such plan, but happily our ever vigilant, peace-loving electorate was 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 8, 000 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.”
The governor said that the people of Edo State are anxious to have a free and fair election “but the challenge is these people who are determined to import thuggery and violence, and they have an easier task, and we have a more difficult task to protect the electoral process.”
However, the Edo State chapter of the PDP dismissed Oshiomhole’s allegation against Wike and Okowa as a deceit. It warned the governor to show respect to his fellow governors.
State Chairman of the PDP, Chief Dan Orbih, in a telephone chat said that the allegation was baseless and an indictment of the security agencies for 8000 persons to move into the state without detection.
On the N2 billion allegedly donated to the PDP campaign by some state by having regards to the very hard work and huge resources deployed towards the election by all concerned.
“On our part, we have traversed the nooks and crannies of the state in the course of our electioneering campaigns, and we have been able to effectively market our candidates and our manifesto.
“Our members have been fully sensitized and mobilized in readiness for the election, culminating in our final campaign at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium on Sept. 6, which recorded the highest level of mobilization ever witnessed in that facility.”
He added: “Data capturing machines were found to have been given to unauthorized persons to carry out illegal registration. A case in point is that of Alhaji Nakowa, a known PDP chieftain in Etsako Central.
“He was arrested with some unscrupulous INEC staff while engaged in illegal registration in a private residence in the middle of the night.
“All these, with the reported threat by the Governor of Rivers State, Mr Nyesom Nwike, to the effect that the APC people should go and write their will, should be a source of concern to any right thinking person.
“You recall that the last time the same man issued the same threat in Port Harcourt, several people lost their lives including youth corps members who had been deployed to assist in the exercise in that State.
“The postponement, therefore, provides an opportunity for security agencies to address these concerns in addition to whatever other threats they may have discovered.”
Reacting to the Independent National Electoral Commission’s decision to postpone the election till September 26, the state governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, dismissed the PDP as a party that has no credibility in the state and advocated that the postponement should not be longer than a week and “We have a big event in Edo on September 26 which is the Oba’s coronation. Before that day, there are other events that must be done. It will not be proper to hold election during that period, why not postpone the election for one week?
“It is false claim that the APC was afraid of defeat. We defeated the PDP in 16 local government in the last election held in the state. We are ready for the election and we will win. The PDP has no credibility in this state.”
But the state’s PDP chairman, Chief Dan Orbih, described the INEC decision as a postponement of doomsday for the APC. He said: “For us in the PDP, they have only postponed doomsday for the APC and Adams Oshiomhole in Edo.
“What they have failed to tell Nigerians is that they have no sellable candidate. What is playing out is alike a drama series. Anytime they decide to conduct the election, we are waiting to defeat the APC.”
Lending his support Orbih’s postion, Ekiti State Governor, Mr Ayodele Fayose said the postponement is bad signal and beginning of the end for democracy in Nigeria.
“It is obvious that the All Progressives Congress (APC) feared that it can’t win the election and is ready to employ whatever crude means to subvert the wish of the people.”
In a separate chat with our correspondent, the Chairman of United Progressive Party (UPP), Chief Chekwas Okorie, said the postponement is not healthy for the development of democracy in the country.
“I see it as an executive interference in the work of the electoral body. It is also an indictment on the security agency. I don’t know what they need to do again but I would expect that they should take Nigerians into confidence.”