By Adibe Emenyonu in Benin City
Edo State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, yesterday, led other PDP leaders and supporters in a street protest against the declaration by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of Godwin Obaseki of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as winner of the September 28 election in the state.
The protest tagged, “Mother of all Protests”, was coordinated by the Centre for Patriotic Leadership Initiative (CPLI), a leadership and rights advocacy NGO, led by Saint Moses Eromonsele and a coalition of civil society groups led by Messrs Kola Edopkayi and Olu Martins.
The PDP candidate, who had vowed to lead the protest, made good his promise, and was joined by his running mate, John Yakubu, Edo PDP chairman Dan Orbih, a civil society organisation activist, Rev Olu Martins, and some other Edo PDP leaders in a road march.
The protesters started at Akpakpava Road and took their street demonstrations to many parts of the Benin metropolis such as 2nd East Circular Road, New Lagos Road, Mission Road, Dawson Road and the Ring Road.
In his address before embarking on the street protests, Ize-Iyamu encouraged his supporters to expect long suffering because the journey to recovering the stolen mandate would be a long one from the electoral tribunal to the Appeal Court and the Supreme Court, expressing confidence that they shall prevail at the end.
He pointed out that he was certain of victory because he won the election and that God had told him not to walk away but to “pursue and recover” his mandate that the INEC and the APC robbed him and his party.
He called for the arrest of one Osakpamwan Eriyo, alias Nomoless, pointing out that the individual, seeing that he had lost election in his unit and ward, proceeded to the ward collation centre at George Idah Primary School in Benin and disrupted proceeding and ensured that the result of the unit was cancelled.
According to him, “We want to put the police on notice that if they do not arrest him (Osakpamwan) in the next few days, we want to tell them that we have the capacity to arrest their thugs.
“Edo is in a state of mourning like a graveyard because the people’s mandate has been taken and the people have been robbed.
“But let me assure you that that at the end of the day we will win, because God has said so. We will win because Edo people voted for us and we won the election”.
Also speaking the state PDP chairman, Dan Orbih, called on the INEC chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu and INEC commissioner to resign because of the way the Edo governorship election was conducted, adding that the PDP would explore every legal means to reclaim the mandate.
However, the Director General, Obaseki Campaign Organisation, Mr. Osarodion Ogie, described the protest by the as a creation to draw sympathy from members of the public because all their rigging plans failed them.
He said prior to the election the PDP induced staff and students of tertiary institutions who were supposed to be used as adhoc staff for the election, but was shocked when INEC went to Ekiti state to recruit officials for the election.
“Of course they imported militants before the postponed election. Their plans was to cause mayhem and then announce the fake results which they earlier sent on net as the authentic result for the election. But when elections were postponed the militants were weeded out of the state and they became frustrated.
It was the same results they planted on face book and other places now claiming the election was rigged. While INEC announced the results collated from the fields which were the authentic results.
Besides, he said it was the same PDP that was in possession of fake result sheets which they were unable to plant in INEC, adding that on the day of the election, they used two transport companies, to ferry money to different centers inducing voters.
They also hacked on Obaseki Campaign Organisation websites where they destabilised information and vital election arrangements made.
“Now they intend to create impression that the election was rigged by hiring people to protest every day so make it look as if that the result of the election is not the true reflection of the minds of the people”, Ogie stressed.