PDP alleges pressure on INEC to alter figures
APC accuses PDP of brandishing fake results
Obaseki, Ize-Iyamu, Oshiomhole, Shuaibu win units
Vote-buying, thuggery, gunshots mar election
The All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Saturday night launched into a huge dispute over the outcome of the Edo State governorship election as results of the polls began to trickle in from the 2,627 polling units.
The first salvo was fired by the PDP which accused the APC of “mounting pressure” on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to “jerk up” its votes after results declared at the polling units at the close of voting yesterday indicated that the PDP candidate, Governor Godwin Obaseki, was coasting home to victory.
The APC on its part dismissed the results being brandished by the PDP as fake.
The party said PDP was “churning out fake results” and urged the public to ignore those figures.
Officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) were gathering in Benin last night to commence the collation of the results from the 18 local government areas of the state.
Turnout for the polls was generally high across the states, although there were reports of vote buying, thuggery and gunshots in some parts.
A woman voter was allegedly shot dead by thugs in Ovia Southwest while two others were injured.
The PDP in a statement a few hours after the close of polls claimed that it “observed that INEC’s virtual portal (for election results) is increasingly becoming unstable.”
The party’s National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said: “We have also been informed that the INEC Chairman has come under intense pressure from the APC to allow the replacement of results declared in the riverine areas of Edo State in order to jerk up figures for the APC.
“We also have information on ploys being undertaken to replace results in Fugar and other adjoining local governments in Edo North.”
The PDP appealed to INEC Chairman Mahmood Yakubu not to “fall for this pressure in the interest of the unity and cohesion of our country.”
It said it was in possession of “results as already declared in the various polling units, “and we urge INEC to confine itself to these results already declared by its officials at the polling stations.”
PDP churning out doctored election results, fake figures – APC
The All Progressives Congress dismissed the purported results as fake and advised the public to ignore same.
The APC in a statement by the spokesman of its campaign council, John Mayaki, said it “laughed at the speculative results by the PDP where they churned out fake figures in the pretence that it had already secured majority votes.”
It said PDP’s “electoral vaudeville” would “not secure them the elections” as the “figures and images being bandied in the media are falsities that should be regarded without any seriousness.”
It added: “Before the election, we warned that PDP had prepared doctored election results and fake figures to make it appear that they will win the elections.
“They have even graduated to hosting a fake website for INEC where they release their concocted results.
“I want to urge all APC supporters in Edo to remain calm as we had the majority of the votes in the state cast in our favour. A falling tree makes a louder crack than an erect tree.
“PDP has been churning out false figures. They released an edited picture, for instance, of Comrade Oshiomhole voting for PDP. They released news that PDP won in our candidate’s polling unit.
“These are all falsehood. We will not stoop to their level.”
Officials of INEC were converging on Benin, the state capital last night to begin the collation of the results from the various local government areas.
The process was yet to begin at press time.
Vote buying, thuggery, gunshots mar election
Although the turnout for the election was generally high, it was marred by vote buying, thuggery and gunshots across the three senatorial districts.
Politicians and their agents were seen openly offering cash, small bags of rice and other items to voters in exchange for their support.
After voting at Oredo Polling Unit 19, Ward 4, Governor Godwin Obaseki expressed disappointment over the conduct of the election.
He alleged inadequate preparations by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) with particular reference to the malfunctioning of its card reader which he said slowed down the accreditation process.
The governor, who refused to be treated as a VIP when he arrived at the polling unit and went behind the queue, lamented that he stayed on the queue for more than 90 minutes.
He said: “I expected that INEC would have prepared better for this election. I waited for one and a half hours on the queue before exercising my franchise. It’s a bit disappointing.
“Giving that this is a sole day election, I expected better planning. Card readers were very slow and that’s the situation everywhere.”
The governor’s Special Adviser on Media, Crusoe Osagie, alleged that there was manipulation in areas where Obaseki is popular.
Osagie said: “Suddenly, card readers are not working in areas where Governor Godwin Obaseki is very popular. Voters are being disenfranchised and we are constrained to say that this is sabotage.
“Specifically, in Oredo Ward 1, Unit 20 and other places where the governor is clearly popular, the card readers are not working.
“The INEC should prove to Edo voters that it can conduct a credible election in Edo State.”
YIAGA Africa, one of the Independent observer groups that monitored the election, alleged sporadic shooting leading to the suspension of voting at Idumwongo Polling Unit 5, Ward 7 in Orhiomwon Local Government.
The group said the voting process was also disrupted in Obodeko Primary School PU 003, in Ward 8 of Igueben Local Government, where a political party supporter mobilised thugs to disrupt the process.
There were also noticeable anomalies at Unit 4, Ward 1, Igarra, the headquarters of Akoko-Edo Local Government Area in Edo North Senatorial District.
A chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Bankole Balogun, alleged vote buying while some agents of PDP were seen openly offering money to the voters in the queues under big trees.
One of the PDP’s agents in Igarra was overheard informing a leader of the party (PDP) that the N60,000 she was given for vote buying remained just N5,000, but the leader asked the woman to exhaust the fund before asking for more money.
YIAGA Africa observers at Asoro Grammar School PU 002, Ward 1, Egor LGA, in Edo South Senatorial District equally reported that party agents distributed cash to influence voters. Similar incidents were also reported in Omo Nursery and Primary School, PU 005, Ward 1, also in Egor.
In Edo North, the deputy governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Edo State, Mallam Gani Audu, sounded optimistic that his party would win because Edo is an APC state.
He said the APC standard bearer, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, and him would emerge victorious.
Audu, a former Chairman of Etsako West Local Government Council, who is a current member of Edo State House of Assembly, stated these at Unit 13, Ward 7, Ughiole Primary School, Aviele, Etsako West LGA in Edo North Senatorial District after casting his vote at 11:11 am.
He described the turnout of voters as massive and impressive, being the first of its kind in the area.
Audu also urged the voters across Edo State to continue to give peace a chance, while disclosing that earlier yesterday morning, there was violence in Ward 5, Agbede in the same Etsako West LGA, adding that security agents were quickly able to restore normalcy, with voting continuing in the community.
Edo deputy governorship candidate of APC, while speaking with reporters after casting his vote, declared that he had no doubt in his mind that APC would win the election because Edo is an APC state.
He said: “You can see, Edo is an APC state. I do not have any doubt at all that we will win this election. APC will win this election at the end of the day. No doubt at all. You will see the results after 5 pm today (yesterday).
“The process (of simultaneous accreditation and voting) is okay, I just came, used the card reader, accreditation was done and I voted, very simple.
“The turnout is massive. In fact, I am seeing the turnout in this area for the first time in the history of elections in this village. The turnout is massive and it is fine.”
Edo deputy governor, Philip Shaibu, who is the running mate to Governor Godwin Obaseki of the PDP, however, boasted of victory at the crucial poll.
Shaibu spoke with reporters shortly after casting his vote at 10:30 am at Unit 5, Ward 11 in his Jattu hometown in Etsako West LGA.
He said: “I am optimistic that we will win the election. You know that I am a man of the people and we have a technocrat as a governor. People who ordinarily would not have come out to vote are all here. So, I am expecting bigger victory.
“I have never lost an election. I am a grassroots politician and a man of the people. Do not forget that this is my community. Whether there is gunshot or not, my people must stand by me.”
There were sporadic gunshots and thuggery at Ward 1, Unit 9, Uneme-Nekhua in Akoko-Edo LGA in Edo North Senatorial District, the hometown of the Deputy Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, Peter Akpatason.
Akpatason, a chieftain of the APC, berated the security agencies for poor performance, especially for allowing gunshots in the area, with one of the notorious thugs hauling missiles at the voters to discourage them from exercising their franchise, with some pebbles eventually shattering the windscreen of his car.
He expressed displeasure about the conduct of the security personnel for not showing up on time when the residents needed them mostly, pointing out that their delay almost led the people to resort to self-help, but he was able to calm them down.
The Deputy Majority Leader of the House of Representatives said: “The first thing we need to look out is the level of political consciousness in the place, the turnout. We are a community that is highly politically conscious.
“It is usual that sometimes, people disagree. But it becomes worrisome when it is obvious that it is politically motivated, with a view to discrediting and creating a ground for the cancellation of the genuine and legitimate results.
“There was a prediction that some people were planning to attack this voting centre. Right from last (Friday) night, they have been hovering around everywhere. We kept vigil to make sure that the untold does not happen, but eventually, some miscreants decided to be unruly, to the extent that a known person resorted to throwing pebbles to disperse people who came to vote so that they would not vote; an intent to ensure that we do not get maximum votes in this place or to cause chaos that could possibly lead to discrediting the results.
“I thank God that my people are very mature. They handled the whole thing with a high sense of responsibility. However, every act of crime will surely be accounted for.
‘I am going to go ahead to incident the report of one little boy who was trying to throw missiles at innocent voters to the extent of hitting my own car.
“In this community, we know that there are people that are behind them. But we know that they are losers, and as losers, they will always do everything to scuttle the peaceful and credible voting process that has always taken place.”
Akpatason also expressed optimism that APC’s governorship candidate would emerge victorious at the poll.
One of our reporters at Eguare Primary School, Ekpoma, Esan West LGA in Edo Central Senatorial District saw voters conducting themselves peacefully with many security personnel deployed in the area.
While at Unit 13, Ward 7, Ughiole Primary School, Aviele, Etsako West LGA in Edo North senatorial district, a security helicopter overflew the area around 10:02 a.m,, to ensure that the election was devoid of violence and thuggery.
Besides the voters from Unit 13, Ward 7, other voters of Unit 14, Ward 7 in the same Ughiole Primary School, Aviele also performed their civic responsibility by voting for candidates of their choice.
A member of the staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) at Unit 13, Ward 7, Aviele, who simply identified herself as Miss Favour, described the election as peaceful, with the voters being orderly.
While covering the election in Igarra, the headquarters of Akoko-Edo LGA, Gloria Eshiomokhai of Unit 7, Ward 2 described the election as peaceful, while Ojo Suberu of Unit 8, Ward 2 noted that violence was not experienced in the area in spite of the crowded polling units.
The electorate in the 192 wards of Edo State massively voted to decide the fate of Obaseki, the standard bearer of APC (Ize-Iyamu) and 12 others. But the poll was a battle between Obaseki and Ize-Iyamu, a former Secretary to the Edo State Government (SSG).
In spite of the above shortcomings, the CLEEN Foundation adjudged the voting exercise as peaceful, safe, credible and impressive across the state, noting that there was only one result of casualty across the 18 Local Government Areas (LGAs) of the state.
Speaking to reporters after inspecting security arrangement at the Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) headquarters in Aduwawa at Ikpoba Hill, Oyebade said they were reinforcing security to prevent outbreak of violence because they knew that a crowd would storm the place.
He said sniffer dogs, armoured vehicles and armed security personnel had been deployed to guard the perimeter as well as station at strategic locations to wade off any kind of criminality.
Similarly, the wife of the APC candidate, Prof. Idiat Ize-Iyamu, commended the process at her polling unit, noting that the election was smooth.
“It has been smooth. We started late, they didn’t come on time, but thereafter, accreditation and voting commenced. We didn’t see any commotion here.
“We know we are going to win the election. We have canvassed, we campaigned, we have gone from door to door, house to house, office to office, business to business, market to market.
“We have gone everywhere in the 192 wards, 18 LGAs and have told people about our simple agenda.
“We have convinced them, they have come out because they believe in what we are doing. They have to come to vote for us because we have told them we are bringing hope to the people of Edo state so we are here and we are very optimistic that we have won.”
Our Correspondent who observed the process in Benin City noted open vote buying practices from the major political parties.