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Oshiomhole, ACN Are Election Riggers, Tyrants - PDP

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… Demands Release Of Esan North East LGA Poll Which It Claims The PDP Won

… Wants Military To Investigate Soldiers’ Participation In Alleged Rigged Poll

SAN FRANCISCO, April 28, (THEWILL) – The National Secretariat of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has described Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State and the Action of Congress of Nigeria (ACN) as election riggers and suppressors of democracy in Edo State following their conduct in the last local government election in Edo State.

The PDP also accused the Governor and the ACN of manipulating the electoral process in favour of their candidates and intimidating voters at the poll. The party also demanded the release of the result from Esan North Local Government Area, which it accused the Governor of cancelling twice because his party lost.

“Since the annulment of June 12 1993, Presidential elections, we have never in the political history of Nigeria witnessed any such assault on the people and democracy like what is going on in Edo state today,” Chief Olisa Metuh, the PDP’s National Publicity Secretary said in a press conference in Abuja on Sunday.

There have been allegations of electoral fraud against the Edo State electoral commission by the PDP just as the Edo State Governor also blamed the commission for poorly handling the poll.

Read the full text of the PDP’s press conference: “Gentlemen of the Press, as we speak, the survival of our democracy is under very serious threat. Unpatriotic and undemocratic elements have laid siege on our nation’s democracy and Nigerians are now living in serious fear and uncertainty…

“As I address you, the people of Edo state are being subjected to the worst form of tyranny. Their will as a people have been subverted and their rights to choose their leaders absolutely taken away from them by brute force.

“In their desperation to dethrone democracy and enthrone maximum rulership in Edo state, Governor Adams Oshiomhole and the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) have turned themselves into ferocious wolves and have continued to unleash terror on the people.

“Under the express orders of Governor Oshiomhole, the Edo State Independent Electoral Commission (EDSIEC) openly truncated our democracy as they intimidated the people and brazenly rigged the recently conducted local government elections in the state

“In his usual character of playing to the gallery, Governor Oshiomhole openly besieged polling centers. Armed policemen attached to him used guns freely on the people, thugs attacked supporters of other parties, ballot boxes were carted away, and results were manipulated in favour of the ACN. Where the attacks did not yield desired results, elections were annulled.

“Since he assumed office as a direct beneficiary of President Goodluck Jonathan’s policy of transparent and credible election, Governor Oshiomhole has ironically continued to display hatred and disdain for democracy.

“It is instructive to note that it took Governor Oshiomhole five years to yield to pressure from political parties and civil society groups to conduct an election into local governments in Edo state where he, like his ACN godfather desires to be the maximum dictator and Lord of the Manor.

“When at last he decided to conduct the elections, Governor Oshiomhole and the ACN hatched a well designed plot that ensured that the elections are rigged before the actual polling.

“The first thing the ACN controlled government did was to set up the Edo State Independent Electoral Commission (EDSIEC) dominated by known card carrying members of the ACN.

“EDSIEC, under the Chairmanship of Solomon Ogor started the onslaught against the PDP by imposing illegal fees of N100, 000 and N50, 000 for collection of form on our chairmanship and councillorship candidates respectively with the aim to discourage members of the PDP from contesting in the election.

“In order not to create a situation of chaos, PDP candidates went ahead to pay the fees and got ready for the elections.

“EDSIEC under the directive of Governor Oshiomhole went further to demand that all candidates must be screened to determine their eligibility for elections. We rejected this as unconstitutional and insisted that it is only the court or the tribunal that has the powers to decide such. But they went ahead and removed some of the brightest materials we have for the elections by their screening using various excuses.

“Of course, the state chapter of the PDP went to court but due to delays in the determination of the suit, it took time for us to get judgement. The high court however granted all the prayers and ordered that all illegal levies on candidates be refunded immediately.

“After that, the ACN controlled EDSIEC went ahead to appoint card carrying members of the ACN as presiding officers and polling clerks. It is public knowledge that over 95 percent of the electoral officials were ACN official agents at the last governorship election.

“The PDP leadership in Edo state wrote letters to EDSIEC protesting the composition of the electoral body but they went ahead and allowed them on the ground that by the time they hired them, they did not know that they were ACN members. What would one expect under such arrangement?

“The major charade played out on the election day, April 20, 2013. EDSIEC under the command of Governor Oshiomhole decided not to release election materials for distribution. There were no election materials in many local councils where PDP had greater support. In many of those places, there were no result sheets but by evening the ACN controlled EDSIEC started declaring ACN candidates as winners.

“It is public knowledge that voting materials were withheld by EDSIEC under the instruction of the governor and were later released to serving government officials who directed when and where they should be distributed.

“It is on record that Edo state Deputy Governor, Dr. Pius Egberanmwen Odubu admitted in an interview with the NTA at Abudu in Orhionmwo LGA that his bus was used to convey election materials and electoral officers. This is on video. The question we ask is, when has it become the duty of the Deputy Governor to convey electoral materials and electoral personnel?

“Under the directive of Governor Oshiomhole, in many local governments including Etsako Central, the home of the PDP Edo state Chairman, known PDP members were not allowed to vote by the ACN card carrying polling officials. PDP members were intimidated with police and ballot boxes were carted away to unknown destinations where ACN members engaged in thumb printing and results were declared in favour of ACN.

“In some polling centers where the people resisted the carting away of materials insisting that results must be announced, Governor Oshiomhole himself went with gun trotting policemen and attacked the people.

“We have video clips of what happened on the election day when Governor Oshiomhole himself wanted to retrieve voting materials from clerks in centers where voters insisted that the materials must not be moved until the results were announced.

“In Governor Oshiomhole’s local government, we have video clips where angry voters resisted him. They stoned him and called him names. Mobile policemen who were with him started shooting and many people were wounded.

“We will show you the clip and that of the Deputy Governor declaring that he used his bus to convey electoral materials now.

“Also, Governor Oshiomhole used the military to intimidate and harass PDP members from exercising their democratic rights. We therefore call on the military authorities to investigate the role of the Brigade Commander in Benin in the use of the military against PDP members during the elections.

“The worst scenario was played out in Esan North East were elections were concluded and presiding officers declared results in their wards and declared PDP councilors as duly elected councilors. After two days the governor ordered the EDSIEC chairman to announce the cancellation of the elections. A new date of Wednesday, April 24 was fixed.

“On the new date, a peaceful election was held under the direct supervision of the State Commissioner of Police and the Director of SSS, the PDP candidates again won overwhelmingly and results duly declared by presiding officers in the wards. However, the Returning Officer under the directive of Governor Oshiomhole absconded and refused to officially declare the results.

“The people waited for two nights but the officer was nowhere to be found. Shamelessly, EDSIEC annulled the elections again and fixed a new date.

“The charade and mockery on democracy in Edo state have clearly shown Nigerians what to expect from the ACN which is championing the merger in the yet to be registered and largely inoperable All Progressive Congress (APC) if for any reason they get into power at the federal level or in any state.

“A terror state where a governor brazenly attack his people is a clear example of what to expect from ACN and APC if they are given any opportunity.

“On the whole, we in the PDP demand immediate release of the result of the election in Esan North East where appropriate government agencies declared the elections as credible, free and fair.

“We call on all Nigerians to observe, witness and comment on this yet again dangerous and undemocratic tyranny of the ACN. The threat to democracy is real. We expect all civil societies, social critics, elders of this nation and other lovers of democracy to join in this just fight against the wicked acts of the ACN on the innocent people of Edo state.

“We as a party cannot witness the enthronement of free and fair federal elections by President Goodluck Jonathan only to become victims in elections in states controlled by the opposition. We will not accept this.”