Oshiomhole of ACN and Airhiavbere of PDP casting their votes Saturday
Amid initial hitches, enthusiastic voters yesterday trooped out to cast their votes in the Edo State governorship election.
Early results from some polling units in Edo Central and Edo South Senatorial Districts appeared to favour Oshomhole of the ACN.
For instance, the candidate reportedly won in seven of the 10 wards in Igueben Local Government in the Central District with a wide margin and Oredo LGA in Edo South.
Other highlights of the election included the loss of the PDP in the polling unit where its candidate, General Charles Arhievbere, voted. The PDP also lost in the polling units where two other bigwigs – Chief Ogiadomhe, who is chief of staff to the president, and Dr. Sam Ogbemudia – cast their votes.
The poll was characterized by late arrival of voting materials in some polling centres, forcing a visibly angry ACN candidate, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, to say that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had failed the people.
The PDP described the statement as hasty.
In several polling centres, the names of many prospective voters were on the register but their photographs were missing, thus creating crisis as to whether or not they could vote.
The response of INEC was that it supplied the register to the parties some four weeks ago and expected them to make their observations for correction.
The election took a tragic turn after a boat conveying voting materials to the riverine area of Ologbo in Ikpoba Okhai Local Government Area of the state capsized.
Four persons on board the boat including two inspectors, one constable and one adhoc INEC staff were reportedly killed.
`Fake Voters Register’
In Edo South Senatorial District, which has seven local governments, the turnout was impressive.
However, there was tension at the early hours of the day due to delay in delivering voting materials to the polling units. Accreditation was billed to start by 8 a.m. but did not commence until about 10 a.m.- 11a.m. particularly in Egor, Oredo and Ikpoba Okhai Local Government Councils, all in the heart of Benin City.
However, the situation was better in the rural areas such as Orhionmwon, Uhumnwonde, Ovia North East and Ovia South West. There was crisis at Garrick Memorial Primary School, Oredo in Unit 19 where two alleged fake voters registers were produced by INEC. The names in the register corresponded with the voters who insisted that they registered in the unit but their pictures were missing. Consequently, the ACN members in the unit insisted that the people who, according to them, looked strange, could not vote. This is the ward of the candidate of the PDP, Airhiavbere. Voting was initially suspended in the unit.
In Orhionmwon Local Government Council, accreditation commenced at about 8:30 a.m. and was peaceful. The Deputy Governor of the state, Dr Pius Odubu; and the Director General of the Oshiomhole Campaign Organization, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu who voted in his Ugboko ward, commended the exercise and expressed optimism that it is ACN all the way.
Also, Airhiavbere, who voted at Garrik Memorial School, told newsmen at about 1 pm. that the exercise was peaceful. When he was asked to comment on those whom ACN members insisted that they should not be allowed to vote because their pictures were not found in the voters register in his polling unit, Airhiavbere said: “I am not holding brief for anybody but don’t forget we did not do verification in Edo State.
This may have been responsible. But, we have seen a lot of good signs from the process”. Asked to react on the alarm raised by Oshiomhole at the early hours of the day that the INEC was colluding with the PDP to disenfranchise voters in Edo South by supplying materials late, Airhaivbere said: “It is too early for any candidate to complain. This is just 1 o’clock. That is Oshiomhole’s way of heating up the polity”.
In Uhumnwonde Local Government where the MinorityWhip of the House of Representatives, Samson Osagie, voted, he described the exercise as peaceful. Former House of Representatives member, Patrick Obahiagbon, who voted in Ward 3 unit 4, Oredo, predicted that the ACN will defeat the PDP with a large margin.In Owan West where the deputy governorship candidate of the PDP, Johnson Abulagba, hails from, there was fracas in Ward 6 where some thugs allegedly stormed the polling units and had to be stopped by the armed soldiers and policemen. The incident happened shortly after it was found out that 200 people were prevented from voting.
In Edo North Senatorial District, late arrival of voting materials was pronounced in many areas.
The situation was blamed on the insistence of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members deployed for the election, to be paid their allowances before hand.
In some parts of Akoko-Edo local government area, some communities like Ikpeshi, Egbigere, Enwan, Atte in ward eight got their materials very late. In Ikpeshi, materials arrived 12.45, and as a result, accreditation and voting went on simultaneously to cover up the lost hours and there was no presence of policemen or even men of the Civil Defence Corps. There was fighting in Egbigere inside because of disagreement by the politicians.
But in Igarra in Akoko Edo, accreditation started as early as 8.30 am. But it was not the same case in Ibillo, Ikiran Ole, Ikiran Oke, Lampese, Ugboshi-afe and Ugboshi-ele, where materials were late, just as it was in Ibillo.
Piqued by the late arrival of materials at the polling centres in many parts of the state, Oshiomhole warned that they could be no winner where people were not allowed to vote.
The ACN candidate spoke with newsmen at the Iyamho Primary School, Iyamho, Etsako West Local Government Area where he voted. “They plan not to bring out the voting materials on time and, as we speak, in Oredo Local government area, Benin City and Egor local government area, the heart of Benin City, materials have not got to majority of the polling booths after 11 am and at the New Era College, Upper Mission Road, they brought fake voters register different from the one the people registered,” he said.
According to him, “if accreditation is to stop by 12pm and by 11 am, it is after 11 am now, there are no materials in some polling booths, it then means Prof. Atahiru Jega and INEC have no plans to conduct election. The whole idea is to frustrate the people so that they will not be able to vote, and they will declare a fake result.
“Prof Jega and INEC have been an embarrassment to the nation. I am in shock with all the arrangements they have made sensitizing the people, and I told them, INEC need to be sensitized. INEC is the weakest link in the Nigeria democratic chain. I have no faith in what INEC is doing in Benin City.
“This is designed for where majority of the people are denied the right to vote and this time around I have told them this country either decides on whether to move on or move back, I see sponsored editorials saying whatever happens we will go to court, but today we have to sort out the issues once and for all.”
Oshiomhole said he held Jega responsible for the failure of the election and for disenfranchising the people as INEC has connived with the PDP to perpetrate in scientific rigging.
“They planned it and executed it this way. It is a shame that they have programmed this to embarrass the Nigeria nation. If INEC do not allow the people to vote and they pronounce the winner there will be trouble .He said, “fifty five percent of voters are in Edo South and forty percent in Benin City, and they think they can deprive the people the opportunity to vote,” the can candidate said.
“ Prof. Jega has failed up because I wrote a petition that they are buying voter’s cards. We will all go to court before God. They know that if it is two people remaining, they will not vote for them.”
Governor’s condemnation hasty-PDP
Director of Publicity of the PDP in Edo State, Mr. Okharedia Ihimekpen, who reacted to Oshiomhole’s condemnation of the process, said the governor had seen the writing on the wall and was trying to raise unnecessary alarm in order to rationalize his eventual defeat at the poll. Ihimekpen said that Oshiomhole had suddenly realized that “the security and the electoral body are insisting on accreditation of voters whose names are in the voters register in line with the one man, one vote mantra.” He went on: “Reports that reached us from Oshiomhole’s area in Edo North indicated that under-age voters and persons without voter cards were not allowed to get into the premises of the polling station by security men.
“The governor gave himself away as a possible beneficiary of votes by these unqualified voters when he claimed that voters in the area have been disenfranchised. Is he saying those not qualified to vote should be allowed to do so?” Ihimekpen stated that the governor’s claim that INEC planned to rig the election in Edo South was also ridiculous and patently deceptive, pointing out that “Edo South is the stronghold of the PDP governorship candidate, Major General Charles Airhiavbere (retd) and a majority of his supporters are from the zone. “If Oshiomhole is claiming that INEC is planning to rig election in Edo South, it stands to reason that the rigging is being done against our candidate whose stronghold is Edo South.
Is Oshiomhole saying that Edo South people will reject their son?” He, however, said that “reports that have reached us thus far from Edo South Senatorial Zone did not suggest any manipulation by the INEC. The report was that the electoral body had been on top of some minor hitches in the distribution of materials in some isolated polling units, about two or three and the issue had been resolved and the process was progressing smoothly.” Ihimekpen advised that rather than resort to these “frenzied and desperate antics of intimidation and blackmail against the INEC, the parties must do all within their powers to assist the electoral body to deliver on a credible election.”
`Election free, fair’
Speaking on the Edo poll, yesterday, the PDP Director of Mobilistion, Paschal Ugome (Ominimini) described it as free and fair. He said the result appeared to have “reflected the minds of the people of my area and other places where I monitored”
He added: “The conduct of the election was very credible”.
In Fugar, Etsako Central Local Government Area, ACN won the results so far released. In Ward 2, Unit 7 ACN won by 169 to PDP’s 129. Ward 2 Unit 7 is the ward of Chief Mike Oghiadomhe, Chief of Staff to the President.
In Ward 2, Unit 8 in Fugar, ACN won by 141 to PDP’s 87 votes. In Ward 2, Unit 1, ACN got 133 votes while PDP got 96 votes.
In Adohan, Orhiomwon Local Government, ACN won by 259 votes to PDPs 44 votes. At Idunokhoi, also in the same Local Government, ACN won by 171 to PDP’s 39 votes.
At Orhiomwhon, Urhonigbe North, Polling Unit 7, ACN polled 116, PDP 36, at Ward 04, ACN 117, PDP 27. At Okhwae, ACN polled 221, PDP 71.
At Umuakpe in Oredo Local Government Area, ACN polled 173 to PDPs 20.
In Ozalla, Owan West Local Government Area, ACN won all the units of Ward 1 with total of 1137 for ACN and 599 for PDP. Jubilations akin to a festivity now ongoing at Ozalla.
At Okada Grammar School, ACN won by 265 to PDPs 62
At Eweka primary School at Egor local Government, ACN polled 300 to PDPs 17; at the Oba Market in Oredo ACN polled 404 to PDPs 54.
At the S&T in Egor Local Government, ACN polled 200 to PDPs 25.
The Ward 6, the total sum of Units 1 to 10 in Niger College, Ikpoba Okha LG indicates that ACN won by 1575 to PDPs 54.
In Ovia North East, Ward 1, Unit 3: ACN 256, PDP 52.
Etasko east ward 10 unit 1: ACN 400, PDP 28.
Egor, Unit 11, Ward 9 ACN 75, PDP 9; Ovia North East, ACN 149, PDP 12; Gapiona Oredo Local Government, ACN 897, PDP 10.
Ugonoba Orhiomwon LG, ACN 293, PDP 82
Egor Ward 3 unit 18 ACN 367, PDP 9; Unit 19 ACN 339, PDP 14
Ayua Etsako West Ward 9, Unit 13; ACN 494, PDP 51; Unit 14 ACN 767, PDP 15
Ekpoma, Unit 7, ACN 144, PDP 122; Unit 8 ACN 118, PDP 130; Unit 9 ACN 148, PDP 142; Unit 10 ACN 147, PDP 126 total ACN 557, PDP 520
Ugonoba in Orhiomwon LG, ACN 293, PDP 82 EZOMO PRY SCH OREDO WARD 3 UNIT 8, ACN – 183, PDP – 30, CPC – 5
UNIT 9, ACN – 202, PDP – 55, CPC – 1; UNIT 10, ACN – 192, PDP – 31
Uhiele – Ekopma: PDP- 616, ACN – 54, Igueben local government. ACN so far won 7 of the 10 Wards in the local government, ACN leading in Ubiaja, Ohordua, Ewatto, Ugboha and Ewohimi in Esan-South East local government, AC N leading in Ward 1 and Ward 11 in Esan West local government area.