- PDP tackles Tinubu over Obaseki’s re-election
- Obaseki: If they want violence, we will show them violence
Chuks Okocha in Abuja, Bayo Akinloye in Lagos and Ibrahim Oyewale in Lokoja
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday said it has commenced documenting all incidences of violence and hate speeches in Edo State for necessary action as it prepares for the September 19 governorship election.
This is as the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has taken a swipe at former Lagos State governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, saying the reason he was against the re-election of Governor Godwin Obaseki was because he denied him access to the state’s treasury.
Obaseki, who has also been reading riot act to troublemakers in the state, has warned that his government and party would resist any act of violence and would be ready to match force with force in the event of a provocation.
However, while reacting to the comments by the PDP that the commission was playing to gallery because it knew the party perpetuating violence in Edo state, the INEC National Commissioner in charge of Voter Education and Information, Festus Okoye said, “The Commission is documenting incendiary statements aimed at inflaming passion. The Commission is also documenting violent acts and threats to the smooth conduct of elections in Edo and Ondo State.”
According to Okoye, who spoke exclusively to THISDAY, “In the coming days, the Commission will engage the leaders of the political parties, the campaign councils, the candidates in the election, traditional and religious leaders, civil society groups and organisations as well as the inter agency consultative committee on election security with a view to deescalating and degrading the level of violence in both state.”
Okoye explained that the Commission as a regulatory agency would continue to nudge all the registered political parties to tow the path of peace and electoral transparency.
He stated that there were 18 registered political parties in Nigeria and all of them have equal registration incidents and in the eyes of the Commission and the law, all political parties are equal.
Accordingly, he said “All the political parties participating in the election must comply with the extant laws and regulations relating to the conduct of campaigns and rallies. The Commission is resolutely focused on the conduct of both elections and will not be drawn into partisan political issues.
“We will continue to emphasise and reiterate that the Commission is a regulatory agency and not a political party and has no partisan political leaning. Political Parties must realise and come to terms with the slippery constitutional timelines embedded in section 178(2) of the constitution.
“The Commission will not condone the present slide towards violence and the present escalation of abusive, intemperate, slanderous and base language designed to provoke violent reactions,” the INEC Commissioner stated.
INEC also clarified that the recently inaugurated results viewing centre does not connote transmission of results that would go to a server, adding that the uploaded result goes to a portal, where it could be viewed by the public.
“We are simply uploading results from the polling units for public viewing purposes only. The main drive is to further strengthen our result management processes and procedures and enhance transparency of the system.
“The collation of results from the polling units to the Registration Area Collation Centers will be done manually and in accordance with existing law and the Commissions Regulations and Guidelines.
“The iRev falls within the ambit of Form EC 60E that is displayed at the polling units for public viewing and any member of the public can snap and post same on any platform. The Commission is just uploading Form 60E series that are posted at the polling Units after elections for public view. The Commission will continue to deepen the use of technology in the electoral process,” Okoye explained.
Okoye further noted that the Commission would continue to provide robust leadership in the use of technology for elections given the global pandemic that is reshaping ways and means of doing things, explaining also that the innovation would be extended to all subsequent elections that would be conducted by the Commission.
He maintained that INEC would continue its creative innovations aimed at deepening the use of technology in the electoral process and guaranteeing transparency in results transmission.
PDP tackles Tinubu over Obaseki’s re-election
Tackling Tinubu, the PDP leadership in a statement by Kola Ologbondiyan Secretary, Publicity Sub-committee of the National Campaign Council said, “Our Campaign notes that Asiwaju’s position also confirms allegations that some people in the APC are bitter with Governor Godwin Obaseki, because he (Obaseki) refused to allow the APC cabal to have access to Edo treasury as well as his refusal to foist illegal levies and taxes on the people.
“Our Campaign stands with the people of Edo State and Governor Obaseki in their firm decision not to allow certain APC interests to impose and collect suppressive levies and taxes from house owners, school proprietors, hotel owners, taxi drivers, okada riders, market women as well as artisans who are struggling to make a living in Edo State”.
The PDP spokesperson said the APC cabal was distraught, because Obaseki would never compromise or mortgage the welfare and wellbeing of the people of the state hence their desperate attempt to foist their stooge on the state.
He further stated, it was imperative for leaders like Asiwaju not to allow himself to be dragged into putting personal and group pecuniary and political interests over and above the collective interest and wellbeing of the people of Edo State.
According to Ologbondiyan, it may interest Asiwaju to note that Nigerians have been waiting for a patriotic statement from him that would address the humongous corruption in this administration particularly in Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), North East Development Commission (NEDC) and the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), among others.
“What Nigerians also expect of leaders like Tinubu at this time is to be a voice of caution to self-confessed liars like Oshiomhole and characters like Ize-Iyamu, whom Oshiomhole exposed as a thief, acid bather and person of questionable character, who should not be trusted with the governorship of Edo State.
“We wonder if Asiwaju, as a senator, abandoned his seat at the parliament for 180 days. Of course, he did not, because he is aware of the implications. Our campaign therefore counsels Asiwaju and indeed other APC leaders to desist from any attempts that would colour illegality, because of personal interests.
“Our campaign which enjoys the full followership and support of the Edo people wants Tinubu to know that contrary to his claims, Governor Obaseki has committed no impeachable acts by working in the interests of the people of Edo State,” he stated.
Obaseki: If they Want Violence, We Will Show Them Violence
Meanwhile, Obaseki has vowed to retaliate violence for violence to those who plan to foment trouble, noting that nobody has a monopoly of violence.
If they want violence, we will show them violence, Obaseki Vows
In a press briefing, apparently addressing his supporters, Obaseki stated that he would not tolerate any perpetration of violence in the days leading to the governorship election.
“You know, you’ll mobilise for yourself. Nobody has (a) monopoly of violence. If they want violence, we will show them violence. So, if I see anybody, if you see anybody, smashing any car because my sticker or poster is on the car, let us know. We will show that person that we are in government.
“We will show them that we are in government. I am (the) governor; Philip (Shaibu) is (the) deputy governor. We are the only two (people) who have immunity in this state. We are the only two people today who have immunity in this state.
“And I am sending a clear warning – very, very clear – if I find anybody misbehaving, no matter who you have been, I will arrest you and I will deal with you,” the governor said, in obvious reference to the gale of attacks lately in the state.
Supporters of Obaseki and his rival, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu had a violent clash recently.
In the same vein, Special Adviser to Obaseki on Media and Communication Strategy, Crusoe Osagie, has challenged Ize-Iyamu to reconcile the pious posture he bandied on national television on Saturday morning, with the directives he gave to known political thugs in a video that went viral recently.
No Real Pastor Will Commission Dangerous Thugs Says Osagie
The governor’s aide said: “No real pastor will commission dangerous thugs, call them dangerous lions and tigers and order them to move from one political unit, ward and local government to another, to cause violence and subvert the will of the electorate in the September 19 election.
“It was very convenient for the APC candidate to paint himself white on the Sam Omatseye-anchored programme on TVC. However, Edo people, who still have the video of Ize-Iyamu, giving orders to Tony Adun, popularly called Kabaka, and his co-thugs to cause violence in the forthcoming election, know the inherent tendencies of the APC candidate.
“We also know that the illegal activities of some house of assembly members are being carried out in the APC candidate’s house. Words are cheap; but trust is earned, based on someone’s character, demonstrated consistently, overtime.
“People can claim anything on television to deceive their audience. Edo people will not fall for such publicity stunt or gimmick of the APC candidate because they know his penchant for violence,” he said.
According to Osagie, “The APC gubernatorial candidate reinforced his penchant for violence, when he converted his house to an illegal meeting point for his party members, who are parading themselves as members of a parallel House of Assembly in the state.
“What is more, Ize-Iyamu also claimed on the television programme that Edo people trust him. But the truth is that even his close associates do not trust him. Most of his former aides are now supporting Governor Obaseki because they see in Obaseki, a man that is true to his words.”
In another development, the PDP has said the directive by the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, to the Inspector General of Police to provide security for some members-elect of the Edo State House of Assembly, was a thoughtless unconstitutionality, and to that effect, null and void.
Addressing a press conference on this, Ologbondiyan, said nothing in sections 90, 91, 101 and 104 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) cited by the Attorney General, empowered him to go to the streets of any part of the nation to assemble some people and declare them members-elect of any House of Assembly, without any electoral mandate.
“It is trite in law that with their seats declared vacant by the House, they have consequently lost their memberships and respective mandates,” he said.
Opposition Party Condemns AGF
According to him, the Attorney General ought to have availed himself of the facts that the Edo State House of Assembly, as constitutionally constituted, had written to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) asking it to conduct fresh elections into the vacant seats in line with the provisions of the constitution and the Electoral Act.
“If the AGF had bothered to get his facts correctly before issuing the unconstitutional warrant for the gestapo operation to the IGP, he would have known that the matter of the declaration of the seats of the errant individuals and the request for the conduct of fresh elections to fill the vacant seats are pending in competent Court in Edo State at the instance of his ‘clients’ and therefore it is sub-justice for him to speak on it or cause an action to be taken.
“Yet, Malami is painfully our nation’s federal law officer. However, we may have to remind the AGF, to go back to the Constitution and recheck if any sections warrant him to take any action whatsoever which compromises, derogates or infringes the powers donated to any Court in Nigeria apart from the powers of nolle pro seque of his office.
“Our party holds that there is no part of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) which enabled him to do so. The PDP wants to make it abundantly clear to Malami and his All Progressives Congress (APC) that he does not possess the powers of a competent court and as such, cannot, by any stroke of imagination, make any judicial declaration whatsoever on a matter that is before a court of competent jurisdiction,” he stated.
To that extent, real estate developers in Edo State have declared their support for Obaseki’s reelection, lauding his uncommon reforms and policies that have opened up the real estate sector.
The developers, under the aegis of Edo Land Developers Forum, expressed confidence that the governor would emerge victorious in the September 19, 2020 gubernatorial poll, citing his remarkable strides across all sectors of the state in spite of dwindling resources.
According to the Secretary of the Forum, Oserheimen Idah, “The governor has been able to transform the state through massive infrastructure development across the 18 local government areas of the state and introduced a series of reforms aimed at reducing and totally eradicating bottlenecks and threats to doing business in Edo.
“Obaseki has totally stopped the illegal activities of Community Development Associations, setting up a Private Property Protection Taskforce to ensure that developers and property owners do not fall prey to land-grabbers and other unscrupulous elements in the property sector.”
But a former House of Representatives member, Sunday Karimi has urged the members of the Edo State House of Assembly to impeach Obaseki with immediate effect to enable it serve as deterrence to other governors, who wantonly breach the nation’s constitution with impunity.
Karimi, who was a two-term House of Representatives Member for Yagba Federal Constituency of Kogi State in National Assembly, made the call while speaking with Newsmen in Lokoja on Saturday, saying a governor, who took laws into his hands, choosing to on his own wish stop duly elected legislators from being sworn in to perform their constitutional responsibilities for eighteen months, needs to be taught a lesson for his reckless abuse of power.
Karimi explained that any attempt to muzzle the legislature is tantamount to killing the nation’s hard earned democracy, adding that the abuse and autocratic disposition of Obaseki must not be allowed to go unpunished.
The Impeachment, according to him, would be an oversight and rewarding impunity of the highest order, says if an autocrat brazenly renders the Nigerian constitution useless, he should not be allowed to go Scott free.