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PDP heads for tribunal over Ondo guber poll

By The Citizen
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The national leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has instructed its Ondo State chapter to challenge the outcome of Saturday's gubernatorial election at the tribunal.

While rejecting the declaration of Rotimi Akeredolu of the All Progressive Congress (APC) as the winner over its candidate, Eyitayo Jegede, the National Caretaker Committee led by Ahmed Makarfi accused the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of engaging in advanced rigging in favour of the ruling party.

In a statement issued by its National Publicity Secretary, Dayo Adeyeye, in Abuja on Monday, the party condemned INEC for its refusal to postpone the election in order to give Eyitayo the opportunity to organise his campaign.

It said the election was a charade and not the true reflection of the will of the people of Ondo State.

The statement added: 'INEC has however graduated from inconclusive elections as seen in Kogi, Bayelsa, Osun, FCT, Imo, Nassarawa and some other previous by-elections in the country to 'Advanced Election Rigging', as in the case of Edo and Ondo states gubernatorial elections.

'It is common knowledge that the APC agents openly bought votes of the electorates in the full glare of security operatives who did nothing to prevent such dastardly violation of the electoral law.

'It is not surprising that the electorates in Ondo State became so vulnerable to the corruptive influence of the APC because of the hash economic situation in the county inflicted on Nigerians by the APC administration, which has indeed made all Nigerians virtually beggars in their own country.

'Nigerians will recall that we had persistently called for the postponement of the election before Saturday, for at least two weeks to enable our party campaign and prepare properly for this election as a result of the setback orchestrated by Justice Okon Abang and the charlatans in PDP who allowed themselves to be used by the APC to destroy our chances in the Ondo State election.

'The actions of INEC in collaboration with the APC-led administration left us no time to campaign and sell our candidate and our party manifesto to the electorates in Ondo State.

'Our persistent call for the postponement of the election, which was backed and supported by more than 20 other political parties were all rejected by INEC acting the script of the APC.

'It was a carefully planned and well orchestrated strategy to rig the election well in advance by preventing the PDP from planning and campaigning for the election.

'The APC has hereby introduced a new formula for rigging election in Nigeria.

'In view of the fact that the election was blatantly manipulated from the beginning to the end to favour the APC, we vehemently reject the results of the November 26, 2016 gubernatorial election in Ondo State.

'The election and all actions leading to it fall short of laid down principles guiding conduct of elections in Nigeria. We have instructed our candidate and the Ondo State Chapter of our party to proceed to the tribunal to challenge the outcome of the election.'

The PDP called on the judiciary to 'redeem Nigeria's image on this matter as we request for the total cancellation of the Election in Ondo State.'

It congratulated Jegede and the Ondo State branch of the party for 'the gallant performance at the poll, despite the severe injuries inflicted on us before and during the election.'

Meanwhile, claimant to the office of the national chairman of the PDP, Ali Modu Sheriff has blamed the loss of PDP in the Ondo State election on what he said was impunity and lack of respect for the party's constitution and the rule of law.

Addressing a press conference in Abuja on Monday, the National Secretary of the faction of the PDP, Prof Wale Oladipo, said the same factors were responsible for the failure of party to win the last gubernatorial election in Edo state.

Reading from a text titled: 'Time to come together,' Oladipo, who was represented by factional Deputy National Chairman of the party, Dr Cairo Ojougboh, recalled that PDP had developed a habit of fielding unpopular candidates leading to the loss of several safe states since 2011.

'We lost in all these states for a common reason, the governors were not unpopular but they imposed their surrogates and the people voted them out. We paid for impunity,' he said.

He further argued: 'The above analysis is to show that the governors are very important in delivering a party but that they don't necessary determine the outcome.

'The running of the party should therefore not be left entirely to their whims and caprices. The party must have a say because party is supreme. In the case of Mimiko's Ondo the party was denied the valuable say.'

The factional PDP also blamed Governor Olusegun Mimiko for the election loss in In Oido, noting that the problem of the party in the state began when the governor returned to the party in 2013.

It said: 'The script was written in 2013 when Governor Mimiko returned to PDP. All members he met on the ground left the party for him and he took over the PDP. The structure was handed over to the Labour Party.

'If Oke had not gone to AD and Mimiko managed leadership sportsmanly, PDP would have won the election convincingly. In the election APC scored 244,842 votes while PDP scored 150,380 and AD scored 126,889 votes. It is a fact that the AD votes belong to PDP and the simple arithmetic shows why PDD lost; our votes went to Oke and AD.

'When Mimiko returned to the PDP his fellow governors appealed to him to allow for harmonisation but he refused. All the PDP members led by Olusola Oke left the PDP for him.

'In choosing a candidate to succeed him, he did not allow the PDP members to buy forms. He mainly anointed Eyitayo Jegede (SAN) who was returned unopposed.

'Party members cried to the high heavens that Jegede is from the Central Zone where Mimiko hails from. Their cries fell on deaf ears.'

The faction insisted that Sheriff was the authentic national chairman of the PDP and called on the National Caretaker Committee to disband.