•Trades words with APC over suspected plans to buy votes
By Chuks Okocha in Abuja and Adibe Emenyonu in Benin City
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has raised the alarm on an alleged plot by All Progressives Congress (APC) to use the judiciary to halt the September 19 governorship election in Edo State.
PDP National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, told journalists yesterday at the National Secretariat of the party in Abuja that APC has concluded plans to file a suit before the High Court in Benin to stop the election.
PDP spokesman called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to investigate the cause of the fire outbreak in its Ondo State office in Akure, stating that it was part of the process to discredit and rig the October 10 governorship election in the state.
According to him, some people want to use frivolous lawsuit to scuttle the September 19 Edo State governorship election, following APC’s realisation that there’s no way it could win in the election.
He said it was revealed to PDP that some interests who are masquerading through certain political groups are seeking to blackmail the judiciary and stampede the court to violate the clear provisions of the Electoral Act and illegally halt the election.
He said: “Nigerians are already aware that Section 87(10) (11) of the Electoral Act, clearly prohibits the courts from restraining the conduct of party primaries and general election by INEC.
“This Section of the Electoral Act has put paid to situations in the past, where groups or individuals who have no real stake in elections were used as cannon fodders by selfish individuals and groups to manipulate the courts and frustrate the electoral process against the interest of the people,” PDP spokesman said.
Ologbondiyan added: “It is, therefore, clear that the aim of APC is to use the political groups to drag in the judiciary, trigger constitutional crisis in Edo State, the Niger Delta region and the nation at large and blame it on the court.
“APC’s calculation is a re-enactment of the similar judicial quagmire that led to the scuttling of 1993 general election, a development that led to a serious national crisis that almost destroyed the corporate existence of our country.”
PDP, he explained, stands with the people of Edo State in condemning this plot by APC to derail the democratic order, scuttle the governorship election, create an emergency situation, forcefully seize power and foist an undemocratic and oppressive regime in the state.
“Our party, therefore, cautions such unpatriotic persons to note that the people of Edo State are ready to go to the poll on September 19 and will vehemently resist any attempt by anybody to tamper with the schedule of election or attempt a forceful takeover of their state,” he said.
Ologbondiyan also said PDP has been informed of the drafting of soldiers to the GRA, Benin and Iyamho residences of the former APC national chairman, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole.
“Our party holds that it is indecorous, shameful and sinful on the part of APC and the Buhari Presidency to leave the flanks of our people in Katsina, Kaduna, Benue, Yobe, Adamawa, Sokoto, Kogi states open to bandits while soldiers are guarding the residence of suspended Oshiomhole just to enable him to perpetrate electoral heist.
“Not even in the face of our current insecurity should such an impudent and inconsiderate action be considered,” he stated.
PDP called on President Muhammadu Buhari, as the Commander-in-Chief to immediately withdraw the troops from Oshiomhole’s residence and deploy them in their constitutional duty post in the interest of the nation.
He expressed the preparedness of PDP and its candidate, Governor Godwin Obaseki, for the election, saying: “We counsel APC to stop wasting its time in the court and take steps to withdraw from the contest if it is not ready to face the crushing defeat that awaits it and its candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, on September 19.”
PDP called on INEC to investigate the fire incident in its Akure office where over 5,143 Smart Card Readers were destroyed last week.
PDP Trades Words with APC over Suspected Plots to Buy Votes
Meanwhile, Edo State PDP Campaign Council and its APC counterpart have traded words over alleged plots to buy votes in the forthcoming election.
While PDP has raised the alarm over alleged plot by APC chieftains to rig and buy votes with N300 million reportedly polled from local councils in Lagos State, APC has accused Obaseki of wantonly disbursing N1.7 million to electoral officers across the 18 local government areas on Friday, in order to secure a second term as governor.
Chairman of PDP Campaign Council’s Publicity and Media Committee, Mr. Chris Nehikhare, in a statement, said intelligence available to the council revealed that the local councils in Lagos State have been mandated to contribute N15 million each to finance the alleged rigging plan.
He alleged: “We are once again drawing the attention of the world and all lovers of democracy to the glaring fact that APC is attempting to rig the Edo 2020 governorship election scheduled for Saturday, September 19, 2020, by mobilising N300 million from Lagos State local councils, each council contributing N15 million to execute the sinister plan.
“It is regrettable and disturbing that at a time when Lagos residents are suffering from the vagaries of biting economic hardship superintended by APC government’s policies, the party is deploying Lagos State’s resources to subvert the will of Edo people.”
He said it was shameful that APC is propagating the template of vote-buying and rigging that should best be left to the relics of Nigeria’s political history, noting: “We are sure that the resort to this despicable tactic is because the party is certain of defeat at the poll and is only trying to save face. The people have been unanimous in their support for the candidate of PDP and no matter the underhand tactic of APC, the will of the people must surely prevail.
“Edo people are proud and dignified people and would not surrender their freedom and free will to men who want to act god over their affairs.”
But APC also alleged that it received veritable details of how Obaseki allegedly spent over N100 million for the purchase of arms, claiming that his deputy, Mr. Philip Shaibu, took the contract for the supply and distribution to thugs.
Chairman of APC Media Campaign Council, Mr. John Mayaki, alleged: “Governor Godwin Obaseki directed local government chairmen in the state to give N1.7 million to Electoral Officials (EOs) in the various local government areas. One of the council chairmen said he has ordered his council’s treasurer to effect the payments under the sub-head of ‘support for elections logistics.
“The disbursement was done yesterday, Friday, and confirms our earlier revelation that he has a N5 billion budget earmarked for election rigging and vote commerce. We also have veritable details of how Governor Godwin Obaseki spent over N100 million for the purchase of arms. His deputy, Philip Shaibu, took the contract for the supply and distribution to thugs.”
The party also alleged that at least 25 pump action guns had been budgeted for each local government area, while condemning PDP’s desperation and fear that the aftermath would leave a bad taste in the state.
Reacting to PDP’s claim that a Lagos APC chieftain was masterminding the rigging process, Mayaki said: “If the man (Nehikhare) had been following the news, he would have noted that the person he is lying against is only giving us moral support as a party leader. He is not here in Edo, and he is a man who strongly opposes anti-democratic moves.”