Gov. Adams Oshiomhole voting
4 dead as INEC boat capsizes
Ademola Adeyemo, Chuks Okocha and Adibe Emenyonu in Benin City
Early results of Saturdays governorship election in Edo State began to trickle in last night with the governor of the state and Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) candidate, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, coasting to victory.
In the initial results released by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Oshiomhole was leading all the other candidates by a wide margin.
The results were from 999 units in 18 local government areas, while those from the other 1, 478 units in 16 local government areas were being awaited.
There was, however, a tragic development in the early hours of the day as the boat conveying three policemen and one ad hoc staff member of the INEC capsized near Ologbo, Ikpoba-Okha Local Government Area of the state, killing the four persons.
The boat hired by INEC was conveying voting materials to riverine communities in Ovia South-west Local government area when it capsized at the Ologbo river.
Oshiomhole is pitted against six other candidates but his most formidable opponent is the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Major-General Charles Airhiavbere.
In the results released so far, the ACN candidate was followed closely by the PDP candidate, Airhiavbere.
Oshiomhole polled a total of 208, 714 votes from a total of 268, 578 that was declared and won in all the 18 local government areas, except in Esan West where he almost tied at 3, 112 votes to Airhiavbere’s 3, 704.
The PDP candidate polled a total of 57, 341 votes.
The state commissioner of police, Mr. Olufemi Adenaike, who confirmed the death of the three policemen (two Inspectors and one Sergeant) and the INEC staff member to journalists in Benin City, said one of the bodies had been found by last night.
It was not clear whether voters in the riverine areas were able to participate in the election, except an alternative arrangement to get the materials to the areas were hurriedly arranged by INEC.
The election was generally characterised by complaints of late arrival of electoral materials, failure by some voters to find their names in the voters register and emergence of what some voters described as strange voters’register.
Voting started late in most areas in Oredo, Egor and Akoko-Edo local governments following the late arrival of electoral materials. The materials eventually arrived around 12 noon when voting ought to have commenced.
In Edo South senatorial district, the general complaint was that of late arrival of electoral materials, such that accreditation could not start on time.
The atmosphere was generally peaceful, except for the arrest of few miscreants in police uniforms in the Ring Road Junction in Benin City.
In many polling centres, supporters of ACN and PDP waited patiently after casting their votes apparently to protect their votes.
Meanwhile, Oshiomhole blamed INEC for the initial hitches that greeted the election, warning that there would be trouble if the true winner of the polls was not declared.
Oshiomhole, who gave the warning during an interview with newsmen at the Iyamho Primary School, Iyamho, Etsako West Local Government Area, where he went to be accredited and later cast his vote at about 10.43 am and 1.pm respectively, said there were plans to rig out ACN with the delay in the arrival of materials.
According to him, “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.
“If accreditation is to stop by 12 pm 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.”
The governor added: “Prof Jega and INEC have been an embarrassment to the nation. I am in shock with all the arrangements they have made sensitising the people, and I told them, INEC need to be sensitised. 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”.
The ACN candidate said he would hold Prof. Jega responsible for the failure of the election and for disenfranchising the people as INEC had connived with PDP to engage in scientific rigging.
He said: “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.
“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.
“Prof. Jega has failed because I wrote a petition that they are buying voters card. We will all go to court before God. They know that if it is two people remaining they will not vote for them.
But Airhiavbere, on arrival at the Garrick Memorial College polling centre, predicted that the election would be peaceful as there was water tight security on ground.
“The security is very tight, the electorate are coordinated. Everyone is going about their businesses. I assure you the election will be peaceful and credible,” he said.
In all these polling station visited, security was tight and the voters were orderly. The question of late arrival of materials seem to be peculiar to Edo South because it was from the district that electoral materials were sent out to Edo North and Edo Central.
Accreditation commenced on time in the Uzelema Primary school in Uromi, the home town of Chief Anthony Anenhi. He was accreditated on time and voted at about 12.49 pm
In the Irrua area, in most of the polling stations visited, accreditation and voting took place on time, though there were slight logistics problems in the Ighobazua area with the case of late arrival of materials.
Though, with common understanding of the stakeholders, accreditation was extended by an hour.
However, PDP has described Oshiomhole’s initial condemnation of the hiccups that greeted the election, while the accreditation process was still on, as hasty. The party criticised him for attempting to destroy the integrity of the election.
PDP’s Director of Publicity in the state, Mr. Okharedia Ihimekpen, who reacted swiftly to Oshiomhole’s condemnation of the process, said the governor had seen the writing on the wall and was trying to raise the unnecessary alarm in order to rationalise his eventual defeat at the poll.
Ihimekpen said Oshiomhole had suddenly realized that “the security and the electoral body are insisting on accreditation of voters whose names are in the voter registers in line with the one-man, one-vote principle.
He said: “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 said the governor’s claim that INEC planned to rig the election in Edo South was ridiculous and patently deceptive, pointing out that “Edo South is the stronghold of the PDP governorship candidate, Major General Charles Airhiavbere (rtd) and a majority of his supporters are from the zone”.
All roads leading in and out of Edo State was closed till 4pm. Passengers entering or going out were stopped at the Benin end of the four major roads leading to the city namely Okpella-Benin road, Lagos –Benin road, Benin – Sapele and Benin – Agbor roads.