Governor Adams Oshiomhole
By Onolomemen upbraids Oshiomhole for conduct of poll State govt calls for calm
Patrick Ugeh and Adibe Emenyonu
The results of the weekend’s local government elections released by the Edo State Independent Electoral Commission (EDSIEC) so far have shown that the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) was in early lead.
THISDAY gathered that the party was leading in the seven local governments so far released.
The release of the results came as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state has called for total cancellation of the elections.
The PDP also called for the resignation of the chairman and members of EDSIEC because of the alleged shoddy job the commission did in the conduct of the election especially the delay in distribution of voting materials.
The results released so far by EDSIEC showed that the ruling ACN won the seven chairmanship seats and many councillorship seats.
The local government areas are Akoko- Edo, Egor, Esan South East, Etsako Central, Etsako East, Igueben and Orhionmwon respectively.
In Akoko-Edo, Joseph Akerejola of ACN polled a total of 41,496 to defeat his closest PDP candidate who scored 5,171. In Egor, Victor Enobakhare of ACN garnered 10,152 votes to defeat his PDP opponent who polled 1,951 votes.
In Esan South East, Joseph Ikpea of ACN scored 14,430 votes to defeat the PDP candidate who polled 2,776 votes.
In Etsako Central, Emmanuel Momoh of ACN defeated his PDP rival with 9,293 votes who polled 4,357.
The result in Etsako East showed that Abdulmalik Suleiman Afegua of the ACN won the chairmanship seat with 23,262 votes to defeat his closest PDP opponent who polled 4,281. In Igueben, the ACN candidate polled 16,298 to defeat the PDP candidate who scored 1,592.
While in Orhionmwon, the ACN candidate polled 29,059 votes to defeat his PDP opponent who scored 5,843.
Earlier, EDSIEC had cancelled elections in four local government areas namely, Esan West and Esan North East; Oredo and Ikpoba-Okha, and postponed the polls in the councils to April 24 and April 25 respectively.
But addressing journalists yesterday in Benin City, the state chairman of PDP, Chief Dan Orbih, said the party in consultation with other political parties that participated in the elections would not allow the staggered arrangement by EDSIEC in the conduct of the election.
According to him, there was no election in the entire state, and even places where voting managed to take place, there was no result sheet.
"Therefore, how can you say there was election when in most polling units, voting materials arrived as late as 3.30 p.m.; even where elections took place, there were no result sheets?" Orbih queried.
He also alleged that in Etsako West, the governor's home local council, there were reported cases of angry mob booing the state Governor, Adams Oshiomhole, and voting materials burnt.
Similarly, the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) has called for the cancellation of the entire election.
The party's candidate in last July governorship election, Solomon Edebiri, who spoke on behalf of the party, said Oshiomhole should redeem his image by directing EDSIEC to reschedule the election as the party would not accept any result emanating from the commission.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Works, Mr. Mike Onolememen, yesterday lambasted Oshiomhole for his alleged shoddy handling of the elections.
According to him, the people of the state got what they did not bargain for.
"Not only that election materials were sent late, in some places like Ekpoma and Uromi in Esan West and the entire Esan North East local government areas respectively, voting materials did not get to the polling centres as at 4.p.m. and sensitive materials like result sheets were allegedly removed by ACN agents," Onelomemen said in a statement made available to THISDAY in Abuja.
As a result, the minister stated that restive youths took over divisional police stations in their areas where the materials were discharged demanding that missing result sheets must be produced.
"In Uromi where the minister was expected to vote for example, at about 5 p.m., the missing result sheets suddenly ’re-surfaced’ after a protracted protest by prospective voters," he said.
"However, since there was no electricity in most of the voting centres and considering the fact that it will take a minimum of seven hours for accreditation and voting to take place, party leaders and voters demanded the re-scheduling of the elections as a result of fears of possible mayhem and rigging.
"The fears were based on the heavy presence of cultists who earlier in the day were shooting guns sporadically and driving people out of voting centres, promising to unleash mayhem at night on those who dared to wait behind," he said.
According to the statement, the minister expressed disappointment that the state government could not organise a credible election, even after over three years of preparation.
He accused the state government of deliberately delaying the release of materials for the elections so as to drag it into the night where under the cover of darkness, they could carry out their heinous crimes.
Onelomemen challenged Oshiomhole to walk his talk on the mantra of "one man, one vote," wondering if the governor could have been elected if the federal election that brought him to power had been conducted in a similar shoddy manner.
He thanked the people for their massive turnout after the elections was postponed and urged them not to be discouraged.
However, the state government urged the people to remain calm and law-abiding in order to guard the hard-earned democracy against the machinations of anti-democratic forces.
In a statement signed by the Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mr. Louis Odion, he said EDSIEC remained the only constituted authority empowered to make pronouncements on the elections.
The statement said owing to some logistics challenges, elections had to be postponed by EDSIEC in four local government areas namely: Esan South West and Esan North East as well as Oredo and Ikpoba-Okha till Wednesday and Thursday respectively.
It explained that elections had to be postponed in the four councils due to the late arrival of election materials in Esan North-East, alleging that the exercise was disrupted following the reported importation of a combined army of thugs and riot policemen by Onolememen which made it impossible for the election materials to be distributed to the various polling units, thus forcing a postponement.
According to the state government, "Obviously, the opposition came to the contest with a simple strategy to ensure that the exercise never held by deploying thugs to cause mayhem. It was, therefore, no coincidence that whereas the state governor led the ACN campaign across the 18 councils in the state, PDP’s campaign was left in the hands of one Dan Orbih, who clearly has no electoral value. Not even the Works Minister was sighted in any of the campaigns before the deadline on April 18.
"In furtherance of the same strategy of ‘no election,’ in Okada, a PDP stalwart was sighted leading a band of thugs and armed mobile policemen with a view to invading the police station where election materials were kept. It is on record that the said stalwart never registered as a voter in Okada, but in Benin where he resides. So, what was his mission on election day at Okada when movement was supposed to be restricted?"
It further noted that in spite of all these, elections however were held in the remaining 14 council areas in peaceful and orderly manner, contrary to the impression being painted by the opposition that there was no election with a view to inciting the public against the government.
"As at the time of issuing this statement, results have been fully collated in fourteen councils with clear winners emerging. For instance, the PDP state chairman, Orbih, won his ward by a margin of 27 votes but lost the chairmanship by a margin of 38 votes. To achieve that, ACN chieftain in the area, Mr. John Umoru, was brutally beaten up by soldiers allegedly on the orders of PDP leaders."
“In Fugar, the Chief of Staff to the President, Chief Mike Ogiadomhe, won his polling unit but lost his ward. These preliminary results showing PDP’s winning some councillorship positions clearly exposes the lie that the entire process was a charade.
"In any political contest, the 1999 Constitution clearly anticipates disputes, hence
enough provisions have been made for anyone who feels dissatisfied to seek redress. The same mechanism will be made available in the coming days for anyone who might have issues to seek remedy vis-a-vis the conduct of the April 20 polls. That is the civilised path to follow.
"Overall, we need to understand where we are coming from. The truth is that since the return of democracy in 1999, it is the first time EDSIEC is being made to face the rigours of organising a contest where people's votes will count, consistent with Comrade Adams Oshiomhole’s advocacy of 'One Man, One Vote'.
"Under PDP's watch in the past, elections were never held but results were usually announced in Benin City from the bedroom of one godfather, whether people voted or not. So, rather than despair, our people should rejoice that, for once, they now truly have a say in who emerges as their leader at the local level owing to the reforms initiated by Governor Oshiomhole.
"We therefore urge eligible voters in Esan South West and Esan North East and on Thursday (April 25), those in Oredo and Ikpoba-Oha to come out en masse to vote candidates of their choice, rest assured that enough security arrangements would be put in place to ensure their safety.
"For the avoidance of doubt, let the trouble-makers be reminded that Edo State has a popularly elected government in power and it will not fail in its responsibility to bring those who breach the law to justice," it added.