- Obaseki’s faction replies, says Okah is not party’s scribe
- Urges INEC, NCDC, DSS, police not to succumb
Adibe Emenyonu in Benin City
A faction of All Progressives Congress (APC) in Edo State saturday accused the state governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki of plotting to inflate the COVID-19 cases in the state as a strategy to scuttle the party’s primary election scheduled to hold on June 22.
The faction, which is loyal to the APC National Chairman, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, has urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the Nigeria Centre for Diseases Control (NCDC), Department of State Security (DSS) and the Nigeria Police, among others, to refrain from succumbing to Obaseki’s alleged plan to scuttle the process.
The faction made the allegation in a letter it addressed to INEC Chairman Prof. Mahmood Yakubu on Thursday, detailing Obaseki’s plans to scuttle the party’s forthcoming primary election.
The eight-page letter was copied to to the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Director General, NCDC; Inspector General of the Nigeria Police; Director General, DSS and National Chairman of APC
In a swift reply, however, the Publicity Secretary of Obaseki’s faction, Pastor Joseph Osagiede dismissed the allegation, saying that the signatory of the letter was not the Secretary of Edo APC.
In the letter signed by its Secretary, Mr. Lawrence Okah, the faction alleged that Obaseki had already instructed the testing of fictitious 300,000 persons with the ultimate desire to announce fake positive results to serve as a foundation for the scuttling of the party’s primary election.
The letter read in part: “Obaseki has concluded plan to scuttle the primary election of the APC scheduled to hold on June 22. The pretext is that if held, the primary election will escalate COVID-19 cases in Edo state.
“The irrefutable information is that the governor has directed that medical tests be carried out on fictitious persons of up to 300,000. The plan is to deliberately increase the number of persons declared to be infected with COVID-19 as justification to lock down Edo State throughout the period scheduled for the primary election in the state.”
The letter, thus, condemned the plot, describing it as a show of desperation on the part of the governor and called on INEC, NCDC, police, DSS and other security forces to refrain from succumbing to his desperate antics at scuttling the scheduled primary election.
Since the index case of COVID-19 was announced on March 23, the letter said the state “has not carried out more than 238 tests. From the official record of the NCDC, as of May 21, a total of 238 persons have been tested for COVID-19 in the state. Of this number, 119 are confirmed, 78 are on admission, 35 have been discharged and 6 have died.
“With the COVID-19 Regulations made by President Muhammadu Buhari on March 30; 13 April 13 and 27 April 27 being in place, Obaseki’s authority to make regulations to tackle the COVID-19 in Edo state is legally exhausted.
“It must be further noted that the COVID-19 Regulations are made pursuant to the powers conferred on him by the Quarantine Act, a statute of the federal government made under item 54 of the Executive Legislative List in the 1999 constitution. In none of the extant Regulations made by the President is Edo State listed for lockdown.
“In view of the foregoing, any decision of Obaseki to lock down Edo State should be considered in serious conflict with the COVID-19 Regulations. We therefore urge Office of the Attorney General of the Federation to take proper note of these developments and protect our hard-earned constitutional democracy from being undermined,” the letter stated.
The letter, also, pointed out the termination of Obaseki’s four-year tenure on November 11, citing aspects of the 1999 Constitution and the Electoral Act that mandates the conduct of a general election preceded by party primary to elect another governor of the state.
However, Publicity Secretary of the Obaseki faction faulted the claims of the Oshiomhole faction, saying Okah, which signed the letter to the INEC, was never Secretary of Edo APC.
On this ground, therefore, Osagiede said he “cannot respond to his utterance.”
Also yesterday Edo State indigenes under the aegis of Concern Edo Citizens Forum (CECF) yesterday urged all political parties to reject direct primaries, citing its potentials to worsen the incidence of Covid-19 not just in the state, but across the federation.
In a statement by CECF’s Convener, Mr. Roy Oribhabor and its Secretary, Mr. Osamwonyi Ibude, the group advised citizens to maintain and abide by government guidelines in stemming the spread.
“As concerned citizens, we are seriously worried about the political activities in Edo state because of the coronavirus pandemic. It’s on record that this deadly virus has no respect for status and positions hence our worries.
“We hereby call on all political parties in Nigeria contesting for gubernatorial election in Edo state to consider mode of primaries that will help reduce the spread of corona virus and also reduce the potency accordingly.
“We are first Edo people before election therefore direct method of primaries are not advisable at this material time of world pandemic because this system will further enhance the spread of Coronavirus in the society.