The Edo State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, has alerted the international community and the civil society groups on the use of the state Ministry of Justices and the security agencies to intimidate, harass and detain members of the party ahead of the September 10 governorship election.
He also warned against the rigging of the election, insisting that the consequence of manipulating the election in favour of the All Progressives Congress (APC) would be too grave to manage.
Ize-Iyamu stated this during his interactive session with members of the civil society coalition in Benin-City, the Edo State capital weekend.
‘’The worst is happening now in Edo State; the APC is using the state Ministry of Justice to oppress, intimidate and detain our people. I don’t know whether many of you know what played out recently in Ovia East Local Government Area? The trend has become very alarming,’’ the PDP candidate stated.
“Our boys are provoked by thugs and miscreants of the APC and before you know it, the same thugs will invite the police and innocent people are arrested; they are denied bail and when the agitation for bail becomes very pronounced, the policemen will wash their hands off because they know there is nothing in it. They will say it is assault, and disturbance of peace.
‘’And as they get to the Magistrate Court, the Ministry of Justice will step in and say it is interested, And on their own, they will change the charge sheet and say the case is attempted murder – just to ensure that the Magistrate Court has no jurisdiction over the matter and the Magistrate Court has no option than to say since I have no jurisdiction, I detain you until the Director of Public Prosecution decides to handle the matter.’’
The candidate said many innocent PDP members are current languishing in many police stations, especially the Sapele Road Police Station, saying that their offence is because they were attacked by APC’s thugs, and later arrested by the police, while pasting posters.
He added: ‘’Funny enough, the youths are now in detention because the Commissioner for Justice has decided to misuse his office by telling the police to put charges on the innocent PDP members, knowing that the Magistrate Court that has no jurisdiction, they will be forced to detain the innocent people.’’
Advising the international community and the civil society groups to speak out now, Ize-Iyamu reminded them that an injury to one is an injury to all, saying if the situation is allowed to continue, it would amount to inviting anarchy.
He said if the situation is not immediately checked, it would get to a stage where members of the PDP will no longer respect the police, and the people would begin to protect themselves.
Pastor Ize-Iyamu added: “I want to appeal to the international community and leaders of the civil society group to call the Edo State government to order. The APC today came in when the PDP was in government at the federal level. If former President Goodluck Jonathan had decided to use INEC, police and other security agencies, I am sure the story will be different today.
‘’The Edo State Broadcasting Service, under the regulation of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) has a right to report me as a candidate in this election. But it has never done so. The Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) on its own wrote me a letter, assigning a crew to me, because it is a regulation under the NBC.’’
Ize-Iyamu condemned the unprofessional conduct of the EBS, adding that the moment candidates emerge, all the candidates must be given adequate coverage in line with the regulation of NBC.
‘’The EBS knows it, and the management wanted to do the right thing, but they are afraid. Even when they carry my advert – jingo, they are called to Government House and warned never to try it again. It is that bad,’’ he further stated.
‘’Many civil servants call me in the middle of the night because they are afraid; even when by chance they meet me in public functions, it could get them dismissed from the public offices. What kind of state are we living in? Are we in a state of war? That people who got to power — through our mandate have become despots, using the state apparatus to intimidate and oppress our people?
‘’I appeal to you to take a walk to prisons and you will be amazed at the number of political prisoners that are there. And they are boasting they will do more. And those who were arrested in Ovia North East and detained were told they could be released if only they will defect to APC, and the young boys said they will not, and so they are still in detention till today.’’
The PDP governorship candidate appealed to the international community and the civil society groups to rise up to the challenges, insisting that members of PDP are not weak but love peace because war is expensive.
‘’This election cannot be rigged. We will defend our votes and our people’s mandate with our blood. And those who want to kill let them kill, but life/death is not in their hands,’’ he stated.