Adibe Emenyonu in Benin City
Just as they did last Friday, supporters of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, early monday morning took to the streets of Benin City, the Edo State capital, protesting against and condemning the result of the recently held election which they said did not reflect the wishes of Edo voters.
The protest was a continuation of the one occasioned by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declaration of Godwin Obaseki of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the winner of the September 28 state governorship election.
But a splinter body within the party, under the aegis of PDP Restoration Group, has declared that the election was free and fair, noting that INEC had one of its finest outing in the election as it was not declared inconclusive like that of Kogi, Rivers and Bayelsa States.
According to THISDAY investigation, the protest started at the Ize-Iyamu Campaign office on Akpakpava Road and moved to several parts of the Benin-City metropolis such as First East Circular road, Second East Circular road, Dawson road and New Benin before returning to the Ize-Iyamu Campaign office, where they regrouped once again.
The protesters carried placards with inscriptions such as ‘INEC is biased, not independent’, ‘Return our stolen mandate’, ‘Police conspired with INEC to rig the election’, ‘Return our stolen mandate to Ize-Iyamu’ among others.
Speaking on behalf of the protesters, a member of the Conference of Civil Society Organisations in the state, Rev. Olu Martins, said it was historical and ironical that nine to 10 years ago, he was among the protesters, who occupied the streets of Benin-City to protest against the injustice done to Governor Adams Oshiomhole in the 2007 state governorship election, adding that he was back in the streets this time around to protest against an “electoral heist perpetrated by the same Oshiomhole.
“We will not stop until what rightfully belongs to the people is returned to them. The challenge is not what happened on September 28, it is the process.
“For the first time in Nigeria’s political process, international observers and journalists were barred from collation centres on the evening of an election and asked to come back the following day.
“By the time they came back the following day, the results were ready. That’s magical. They have subverted the will of the people, so we cannot stop protesting. It simply means that some people could sit at the INEC office and write results.
Meanwhile, addressing journalists in Benin City, the spokesman for the Restoration Group, Uyi Igbinegie, noted that the September 28 election was free of the usual violence which gave it the general acceptance that it was free and fair.
Besides, he said PDP could not have won the election because during the buildup to the party primaries, and after the party lost the general elections last year and President Muhammadu Buhari was sworn in, there were many revelations of how so much money was stolen by members of former President Goodluck Jonathan’s team.
However, the leadership of All Progressives Congress (APC) said it is set to sanction some of its members who worked as internal collaborators against the emergence of the governor-elect, Godwin Obaseki, during last Wednesday’s governorship election in the state.
Already, the party said it had embarked on debriefing of its party agents and collation of useful materials that would assist the yet Tobe named investigative panel.
The state Chairman of APC, Anselm Ojezua, disclosed this monday at an interactive session with newsmen in Benin City, the state capital.
Although he noted that the alleged sabotage was not serious enough to make the party suffer defeat in the election.
Ojezua said those involved in the act would be given right of fair hearing in line with the APC constitution and there will be no sacred cows irrespective of the status of the individuals or positions in the party.
“We are yet collating our materials. We are also debriefing our Agents and party members. It is at the end of that proccess that all the facts will come out. Then of course, you know in whatever we do, we also see this as an opportunity for people to do witch-hunting because you know very soon people will begin to lobby for positions.
“So, people who feel that others will threaten their aspirations can come and start telling you storied about others. So, all these things must be put in place. When we get the information, they must be processed and there is the fundamental rules which say, all parties must be given a fair hearing. We have the rules in our party constitution to ensure that the right thing is done.”
He also said APC has formally written a protest letter to relevant authorities demanding an investigation into the alleged deployment of military personnel at the instance of a serving military officer who allegedly defiled the rules of engagement to harass and intimidate eligible voters in Edo Central senatorial district in Edo State.
The move was to compromise the electoral proccess and serve the purpose of PDP whose misadventure was born-out of over ambition to secure victory through hook or crook.
“Generally speaking, I will say the security agencies acquainted themselves well. But, in a lot of places, they allowed themselves to be used by politicians. In my area, the APC had to contend with PDP and security agencies including the army.
He however, ruled out the call for a unity government by Obaseki, but admitted that the level of vigilance and patriotism of members accounted for the victory of the APC at the just concluded poll.
“So, the circumstances at that time, necessitated Adams Oshiomhole to make unusual concessions to the detriment of his own party, but for survival of his government. Obaseki does not have that kind of burden, hence perhaps made him to make such a statement.
“Remember, as at that time, PDP brought three Commissioners specifically from Edo Central senatorial district because of the influence of Chief Tony Anenih who was able to reign in his members,” he said.