By George Okoh in Makurdi
The gubernatorial candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Benue State, Mr. Emmanuel Jime, has lamented that the inconclusive gubernatorial and state Assembly elections in the state were rigged in favour of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
He particularly pointed fingers at the trio of the former state Governor, Gabriel Suswam; Senator-elect for Benue South, Aba Moro, and the incumbent state Governor, Samuel Ortom, of allegedly perpetrating “unprecedented electoral heist ever seen in the history of the state.”
Jime’s allegations were contained in a statement signed by the Deputy Director of his campaign organisation, Mr. Kula Tersoo.
According to the statement, “Suswam was alleged to have, prior to the polls, activated his link with a section of the militia from an area recruited by the wanted chief terror in the state, Terwase Akwaza aka Gana, for the electoral fraud.
“These militia helped him to intimidate and sacked voters from polling centres to pave way for massive multiple thumb printing and general rigging in the five wards of Gaambe Tiev section of his Logo Local Government Area. Eventually, a cooked figure of over 30,000 votes was awarded to Ortom and the PDP while about 2,000 miserable votes were given to Jime and the APC.
“Suswam, we gathered on good authority, connived with the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in the state and got only his relations and kinsmen of Shitile appointed as returning officers in the Benue Northeast senatorial district. We have the names of these returning officers, their relationship with him, and will at the appropriate time, be made public.
“This also explained why with glaring manipulation of votes, gubernatorial and House of Assembly results from the Northeast part of the state and particularly, Sankera axis, were not cancelled.
“All petitions written against these elections by our collation agents were ignored. The returning officers would always make sure they detach all petitions from form EC40 (G) before submitting at the INEC office in Makurdi.”
Moro, on his part, is accused of manipulating elections in his Okungaga and the other 21 polling units of Ojiego ward.
Ortom, according to the statement, “hijacked electoral materials meant for the three council wards of Nongov, namely: Nzorov, Saghev and Kaambe in Guma Local Government Area, where he manufactured over 28,000 votes for his party and allocated a laughable less than 200 votes for APC.”
The statement said: “… heavily armed Livestock Guards were on hand to intimidate voters to sell their PVCs. The team raised for that purposed would then use the PVCs for accreditation and subsequent thumb printing for the APC. Those who ventured to protest were heavily beaten and threatened to keep their mouth shut.
“Presiding Officers were bribed and coerced to submission. Those who did it for fear for their lives came back and gave us these facts. They also assured us that if there’s need, they will not hesitate to testify in court.”