Text Of Press Conference By Prof Steve Torkuma Ugbah, ACN Benue Guber Candidate
Makurdi: April 11, 2011
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press
We are here to brief you on the irregularities that marred the National Assembly elections held across Nigeria with particular reference to Benue State on April 9, 2011.
Voters in North-West Senatorial District were confused following an announcement by the Chairman of INEC on Thursday April 7, 2011 that elections were not going to hold in the “Benue North” Senatorial District. Most of our voters became confused and were not sure whether the suspended elections affected Benue North West or North East. In the event as it turned out, only Benue North West Senatorial District (Zone B) was affected. It is most unfortunate that, the basis for suspension of the election was misinformation by Alhaji Nasir O. Ayinlara; the Resident Electoral Commissioner of Benue State to the INEC Headquarters. He had told INEC headquarters that, he received only 84% of the materials needed for the election, whereas he had received over 93% of the materials required for the said election. Alhaji Ayinlara has since admitted his mistake which led to the unfair postponement of elections in Benue North- West and the creation of confusion in the minds of voters in Benue Senatorial zones A and B.
Our party has already called for the removal of Ayinlara as the Resident Electoral Commissioner for Benue based on this singular incidence and several acts of incompetence and bias exhibited by Alhaji Ayinlara.
On March 25, 2011, we, political stake holders in Benue signed an accord on the Benue political crisis at the instance of the Director-General of State Security Services in Abuja. Whereas we have kept our part of the bargain by restraining our youth from embarking on violence even under provocation, the PDP has not.
Members of our party, the ACN were at the receiving end of acts of violence perpetrated by PDP thugs and in some instances, members of the security forces. This was most common in Katsina-Ala, Ukum, Logo, Obi, Utonkon, Ado and Guma. The violence experienced in these places was officially sponsored by the PDP-led, Benue State government under the leadership of Governor Gabriel Suswam. These can be attested to by the arrest of the ADC to the Benue State Governor, DSP Dickson Iorlu Pawa, Hon. Adzua Hindan; a Special Assistant to the Governor, State Youth Leader of the PDP, Mr. Moses Anaana with a cache of arms by the Army on patrol at the gate of Government Model College, Katsina-Ala on the day of the election. It is the responsibility of the media to demand an explanation on this issue from the relevant authorities.
Still in Katsina-Ala Local Government and at Utange ward, LG 011/BN, the militia started shooting in the air on the eve of the election to scare ACN supporters. This scared away our supporters. Those who dared to vote for our party like John Ikyor did at Donga PU code 014, were beaten to a state of comma.
In neighbouring Ukum Local Government, PDP thugs led by Terhemen Anza a notorious thug, popularly known as Basso snatched voting materials and took them to unknown destinations only to return them to collating centre with doctored results.
In the same local government, security agencies collaborated with PDP party stalwarts/thugs/agents to deprive our members their rights to vote. The security agents failed to go to various polling units in the hinterland but restricted their presence in the urban areas leaving our members at the mercy of PDP thugs. At NKST Igyemwase polling unit, one Hon. Terungwa Likita and Terngu Alade all PDP members called in the army who came and cordoned off ACN members and then proceeded to thumb print massively for the PDP.
In Mbavaa Council ward of Konshisha Local Government, Chief Atumba Shima hijacked and ran away with ballot papers and boxes. In the four council wards of Iwarev District, Aseer Soso, Terlumun Ashe were abducted and later discovered to have been detained at Late Prof Hembe, Iorwase Hembe’s fathers’ grave house until the elections were over.
In Iwuanyam council ward, Mathias Byuan, Governor Gabriel Suswam’s business associate, hijacked ballot papers and thumb printed and stuffed ballot boxes.
In Ikurav section of Ikurav/Mbatwev council ward, Hon. Sorkwagh Bebe; former PDP Commissioner, Abraham Nyikwagh; PDP Auditor and Moses Korayem thumb printed ballot papers.
The PDP in Benue State introduced the use of violence in last Saturday’s election to enable it rig the votes. There is abundant evidence to show that, the results announced by INEC giving victory to PDP are based on rigged votes. We have a video clip of INEC officials thumb printing for PDP at Okpokwu. Also at Ohimini, Oglewu-Ehaji ward, 8,500 votes were recorded in the elections even though less than 4,000 voters were registered during the voter registration exercise.
Similarly in Apa local government, Edikwu ward, the INEC returned 8,000 votes while registered voters are less than 5,000.
In Katsina-Ala local government, the voting materials including ballot boxes meant for Michihe ward LG/009/BN were intercepted by Barrister Chive Kaave, Commissioner for Justice and Attorney-General of Benue State and the Chairman of Katsina-Ala Local Government, Hon. Augustine Avaan, who took them to the house of Mr. Agbidye Igyongo; the government house Accountant where they stuffed them with ballot papers in favour of PDP. In Tiir ward of Kastina-Ala West, Special Adviser to the Governor on Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Mr. Solomon Wombo spearheaded the snatching of ballot boxes, stuffing them with PDP papers and moving them to an illegal collation centre at Wombo - his house whereas the official collation centre is at Gbor. His brother, Msugh Wombo against whom we had lodged a report was caught with fake result sheets.
In Guma local government, the stuffing of ballot boxes was organized and supervised by David Tsevende; the Permanent Member of SUBEB, Mr. Tivlumun Nyitse; Permanent Secretary, Government House Administration and Hon. John Tondo; the Commissioner for Lands and Survey, Benue State who also organized thugs for them.
Another tactic of disenfranchising our supporters was the refusal of the Electoral officials to produce complete register of voters in constituencies where they knew ACN had many supporters. For instance, at Tse-Kyuur polling centre in Mbatian ward of Ukum local government, over 800 people had registered as voters. On the day of the election however, only about 200 names were on the voters’ list. Even then, the officers came a few minutes to 12 midday and they had barely accredited 20 people when they declared that the time for accreditation was up. They thus succeeded in denying the voters at this centre their right to vote because it was stationed in the village of our candidate for the Benue State House of Assembly, Mr. Jacob Chiangi Uja.
In Konshisha local government, no elections took place in the four council wards of Mbaka, Mbawar, Mbanor and Mbayegh/Mbakyer. The electoral materials were hijacked and diverted to destinations other than the designated polling units and collation centres only to be stuffed and outrageous results declared.
In Mbaashia area of Mbayegh/Mbaikyer Council ward for instance, the ballot boxes taken to the residence of one Dr. Orsugh Agera where massive thumb printing and stuffing of the ballot boxes was done. In Mbatser/Mbaikyer, Mbatwer, Kurav and Mbaiwarnya council wards, various sums of money ranging from N500 to N1, 500 were openly given to voters who had queued up to vote in order to induce them.
In addition, rather than announce results at the collation centre Gbagbo, the ward Returning Officer removed the result sheets and failed to declare the results at the collation centre thus raising doubts as to what transpired between Gbagbo and Tse-Agberagba. It is noteworthy that, all those malpractices and irregularities were perpetrated with the active connivance, collaboration, cooperation and participation of INEC staff.
In view of the above stated facts, we therefore on behalf of the Action Congress of Nigeria, Benue State call on the National Chairman of INEC, Prof Attahiru Jega to do the following:
1. To effect the immediate removal of the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Alhaji Nasir O. Ayilara to pave way for a free, fair and credible elections.
2. Reject and nullify the purported results manufactured by the PDP in Katsina-Ala, Ukum, the five wards in Gambe Tiev of Logo local government and Konshisha Local Government Area in Benue North-East in their its entirety in the Benue North-East senatorial District.
3. Reject the purported results manufactured by the PDP in Ado, Utonkon, Obi (where hired PDP thugs from Otukpo came with already thumb printed ballot papers and replaced the authentic ballot boxes).
- Otukpo, where no ballot boxes were sent to a good number of polling units.
-Ohimini, Apa and Okpokwu local government areas of Benue South Senatorial District and order fresh elections in the affected areas.
Thank you and God bless.
Prof Steve Torkuma Ugbah
ACN Governorship Candidate