The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have continued to trade blames and both hopeful of winning the March 23 supplementary elections in six states.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) fixed supplementary elections in Rivers, Bauchi, Sokoto, Kano, Plateau and Benue, an exercise described by APC as illegal.
Malam Lanre Issa-Onilu, National Publicity Secretary of APC, said on Sunday in Abuja: “As a party, the APC is very confident of victory in the forthcoming supplementary elections; our commitment to free and fair elections in the country remains resolute.
“We urge INEC to ensure that all loopholes that led to rigging, vote buying and intimidation of voters by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are blocked.
“We equally urge INEC and relevant security agencies to ensure that the supplementary election is free, peaceful and fair compared to the last inconclusive governorship election,” he said.
Issa-Onilu noted that APC had severally raised the alarm over the plot by the opposition PDP to use violence, vote-buying and other election malpractices to subvert the will of the electorate and steal their mandate.
He said the shocking events leading to the last minute postponement of the presidential election provided clear evidence with PDP agents caught in different parts of the country with programmed card readers.
He said PDP agents were also caught with sensitive election materials and large cache of weapons and security paraphernalia.
“Undeterred, the PDP executed its rigging plot through its agents across the country by unleashing violence, vote-buying and hijacking election materials to rig and falsify elections results.
“The result was violent disruption in many polling areas and over voting which led to many cancelled votes and ultimately the supplementary elections and suspended exercise in some states,” Issa-Onilu said.
He noted that in Benue, INEC declared the governorship election inconclusive, citing an insufficient margin in votes obtained by the APC candidate, Mr Emmanuel Jime and the PDP candidate, Gov. Samuel Ortom, the state incumbent Governor.
INEC, he said, also reported that 41 polling units in Vandeikya did not use the card reader, as it was the case in many in Gwer-West, Gwer-East, Gboko and other places.
Issa-Onilu said a coalition of election observers in Benue had since called on INEC to declare the candidate of the APC, the winner of the polls in line with the Electoral Act, adding that the APC align with the position of the observers.
He maintained that there was no doubt that the APC candidate obtained the highest number of legitimate votes with the usage of the card reader.
In Rivers, Issa-Onilu said the APC was concerned and deeply troubled by the unfolding events in the state which it condemned in strong terms.
“This unholy alliance between Gov. Nyesom Wike, PDP and INEC is to prevent Rivers people from electing a candidate of their choice by imposing Wike, the PDP candidate on them.
“It was glaring that Wike was losing until INEC stepped in to halt the process, apparently to save him from impending defeat. INEC must put a halt to this madness and brazen illegality.
“The desperation of the PDP governorship candidate, Gov. Nyesom Wike, to remain in office even if it means destroying the state and killing its people, is throwing the state into turmoil and crisis,” Issa-Onilu said.
He added that it was on record that Wike through the Rivers State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Obo Effanga, engaged PDP card carrying members as Local Government Area (LGA) Collation Officers to skew the elections in favour of Wike and the PDP.
On its part, PDP said that it would win all the governorship supplementary elections scheduled for March 23.
In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, in Abuja also insisted that planned manipulations of the exercise would be resisted by people of the affected areas.
Ologbondiyan alleged that it was unfortunate APC could seek to play the victim when all facts had established that it militarised the recent elections.
He said nevertheless, the PDP was determined to win the supplementary elections in all the states declared inconclusive by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
‘In Benue, it is clear that the people have rejected the APC as clearly demonstrated even in the presidential election. Benue state has always been home to the PDP.
“It is incontestable that our party has the largest genuine followership in all the units, wards and local government areas of the state and as such does not need any underhand measure to secure victory in any election in the state.
“Our winning lead of 81,000 votes was validly delivered at the polling units and that reality will humiliate the APC as it cannot be subverted, ” he said.
Ologbondngiya, argued that Rivers had always been home to the PDP since 1999.
“The results of all the elections held in Rivers, including the State House of Assembly, showed that the PDP is in control of the state.”
He added that in Kano, the people of the state were known to be incorruptible and would always elect governors that are acceptable to the ordinary people.
“In Bauchi, the PDP has already been elected and this reality cannot be altered by the APC.
“INEC had already established that the APC compromised its official to declare Tafawa Balewa LGA as inconclusive and had restored the votes that were stolen by the, ” he said.
He said that in Sokoto, the people gave the PDP their mandate, saying the constitution provides for simple majority of votes for a candidate to win.
“The declared results show that our candidate clearly won and that is why our candidate has been mandated to go to the court to seek interpretation of the section of the constitution that deals with the declaration of results,” he noted.
While making reference to Adamawa, he said the APC was merely hallucinating and seeking ways to subvert the process.
” Its despicable resort to using a person who did not participate in the election to seek to use the courts to ambush the election is disgraceful.
”However, INEC had since declared that it cannot be stopped from going ahead with the supplementary election where our party is already in good stead to coast to victory”, Ologbondngiya said. (NAN)