By Adibe Emenyonu in Benin City
Edo state chapter of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has raised alarm, calling the attention of the international community on the intention of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) government in the state to manipulate the September 28th governorship election.
In a swift reaction to the allegation, Edo State government dismissed the PDP allegation, saying the party was just playing up their empty hat of tricks to rake up and concoct lies as well as create scenarios that did not exist in the state.
The alarm was contained in a letter captioned: “Letter to the International community over Governor Adams Oshiomhole and APC’s use of State powers and violent means against the opposition PDP, with the intention of manipulating and rigging the September 28th governorship election in Edo state was also addressed to the President, Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) The letter which was signed by the PDP Publicity Secretary, Chris Nehikhare and made available to THISDAY in Benin City, said the alarm was predicated on the fact that the Edo State Governor Adams Oshiomhole had boasted that APC controlled federal government was evidently supportive of the actions of the state government in furtherance of the grand design to undermine the process of a free and fair electoral contest as expected in a civilized democracy.
“Once again, it has become expedient for the Edo State PDP to draw the attention of the international community to the unfair deployment of the agencies of state, particularly the police, the Attorney-General’s Office, and the State Revenue Service in the harassment, molestation, intimidation, arrest and persecution of leaders and members of the PDP in the desperate attempt to rig the September 28 Edo State governorship election which the ruling APC had shifted from September 10, apparently having realised that it had not perfected its plan to rig against an overwhelmingly popular PDP governorship candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu.
“We wish to state that our recourse to seeking international attention and intervention is predicated on the fact that the Edo State governor Adams Oshiomhole has boasted that APC controlled federal government is evidently supportive of the actions of the state government in furtherance of the grand design to undermine the process of a free and fair electoral contest as expected in a civilized democracy.
“The Edo State Government, has in obvious abuse of its powers brought the Edo State Revenue Service into the fray of coercion of Edo State PDP. The Board of Internal Revenue has in an unprecedented move taken the State PDP to court on the allegation of non-payment of tax by staff of the PDP Secretariat. The State Chairman, Chief Dan Orbih, who apparently is the prime target of the litigation is mentioned as the defendant”, Edo PDP said.
Continuing, the party said information available to it has it that the APC led government wanted Chief Orbih remanded in prison custody during the remaining period of the campaign and on Election Day as the courts have been briefed that whenever he appears his bail condition will be such that he cannot meet it, even as the allegation is trumped up.
“It is instructive to note that Chief Dan Orbih has been relentlessly critical of the APC and its gubernatorial candidate Mr. Godwin Obaseki. In fact the PDP has dragged Obaseki to court to make him validate series of allegations that have to do with perjury and misrepresentation of facts about his educational qualification and background.
“We see the disingenuous attack on Chief Orbih as a calculated attempt to throw the PDP in disarray and to manipulate the minds of our teeming supporters who are in the majority among the Edo electorate. We know that this resort is an exercise in futility. However, the desperation of the APC puts us in dread of their capacity and inclination to suffer the worst in the next few days before the rescheduled election and on the day of the election. As feared, the postponement has afforded the APC the opportunity to step up the plot to compromise the electoral process. Notably, the harassment, arrest and brutalization of influential and uncompromising members of the party across the state by policemen acting on the directive of the Chief Security Officer of Edo State, the governor, has escalated.
“On a daily basis, PDP members are being summoned to appear at various police stations on phantom charges. They are detained in most instances. Some of our members have been victims of serious violent attacks from agents of the APC suffering bodily harm and loss of valuable property in the process”.
The party which recalled the episode of Ovia, whereby thirteen young PDP members were wrongly arrested for demonstrating peacefully but had their charge changed to murder is still fresh in the minds of Edo people, accused the state government of instigating the police to continue to arrest PDP members on trumped up charges.
According to them, “The most recent is that of Mr. Pere Ejune who, for decamping to the PDP was arrested in a matter of hours and charged with gun running. Mr. Pere Ejune for the records was not seen with a gun. He was arrested in his hotel room at 2am, the day he decamped from APC to PDP. He has since been charged to court and case adjourned to October 12, 2016. He has systemically been removed from the scene.
Meanwhile, the Edo PDP said its attention has been drawn to the development whereby five thugs namely, Charles Nehizena, aka Briganty, Osagie Obowaretin aka Boss and three others, known to be regular escorts and personal driver of the member representing Orhionmwon/Uhunmwode Federal Constituency, Hon. Patrick Aisowieren were arrested by the police for being in possession of AK47 automatic assault rifles, ostensibly for wreaking havoc in the rescheduled Edo State Governorship Election, have been charged to a magistrate’s court for a lesser offense and have been granted bail without mention of the illegal possession of firearms.
Edo state government in a swift reaction to PDP allegation, said the party is just playing up their empty hat of tricks to rake up and concoct lies as well as create scenarios that do not exist in the state.
Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Kassim Afegbua, said “it is obvious that the PDP is jittery knowing full well that the APC will trounce them at the Wednesday election in the state”.
Afegbua who noted that APC has never been known to be violent and lawless like the PDP, pointed out that APC is known nationwide as a political party that gained political control using sound, credible, plausible and superior arguments in engaging with the electorates both in Edo and Nigeria.
According to him, “Rather than descend to the bizarre level of using the barrel of the gun to gain political relevance by way of intimidation, harassment and threats like the PDP, the APC relies solely on using the instrumentality of the ballot box through its one man, one vote mantra which has gained currency in the state and across the country.
He describes all the issues raised by the PDP in their diatribe as purely tales by the moonlight that hold no water, adding that their complain about harassment by tax officials was just to divert attention because anyone who understands the mechanics of governance would readily concede to the fact that the tax man is never a friend of anyone, especially tax evaders who are largely populate in the PDP.
“In line with our philosophy of driving our Internally Generated Revenue across the state, we have notified all tax defaulters, whether in the PDP or the APC that the long arm of the law will catch up with anyone found to be evading taxes. If they have paid their taxes, they should display their tax receipts. No amount of sheer blackmail would diminish our resolve to bring tax offenders to justice.
“We had raised an alarm about the influx of militants into the state as a mark of desperate moves by neighbouring states of Delta and Rivers to cause violence in the state. The recent arrests of about ten militants by the Nigeria Army have confirmed our initial apprehension and fears.
“Thanks must be extended to our uniformed men who have been diligent enough to keep an eye on the state in order to forestall the breakdown of law and order which the PDP was planning. And in order to keep attention away from itself, they now quickly rush to press to raise curious scenarios to distract members of the unsuspecting public. We find their allegations laughable, ridiculous, and curious, even as we view this latest move as a deliberate design to throw up doubts about the elections”, the Edo Commission for Information and Orientation, declared
Afegbua added: At the APC, we are ever ready for free, fair and credible elections where the sanctity of the ballot box will be upheld and the votes will actually count. We are irrevocably sworn to our mantra of one man, one vote and we will replicate that on Wednesday, 28th