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C/River guber polls: Opposition parties live up to their billing

Twelve opposition parties had participated in the the recently concluded governorship election in Cross River State, but a lesser number were aptly considered as having…

Twelve opposition parties had participated in the the recently concluded governorship election in Cross River State, but a lesser number were aptly considered as having made any impact at all. These parties are kicking against the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the ruling PDP, accusing them of electoral fraud. They have therefore threatened hell and brimstone alleging that Imoke connived with the INEC to rob them of their chance to govern the state.

Confirming his party’s readiness to seek redress in court, recently elected state chairman of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), the second strongest party in the state, Mr. Hilliard Eta said they are unhappy with the outcome of the election, which reasons they have vowed to proceed to court.

He described the Saturday, February 25 governorship poll as “a farce which can also pass for an irony” saying it was “Jega’s election’’. Eta said, “at the appropriate time Cross River people shall have a date for the governorship poll’’.

Commenting on the overall conduct of the governorship poll, he pin-pointed that in Abi local government area where the governor hails from, for instance, members and agents of his party were beaten, assaulted and chased away from their polling units by thugs to pave way to rig the election. He also accused the PDP, in concert with some INEC ad-hoc staff and the police, of engaging in irregularities.

Mr. Eta who said that his party, the ACN, only passively participated in the election because of the abridged election timetable, remarked that the development accounted for the reason it did not evolve massive campaigns as well as inject enormous resources into the project expressing confidence that the ACN still remains the party to beat and will carry the day at the litigation coming up very.

In a similar vein, Labour Party arguably the third strongest party in the state, also expressed dissatisfaction with the results of the last governorship election in the state in which its governorship candidate, Barr. (Mrs) Imah Nsa Adegoke, was declared the 4th winner.

A statement from the party secretariat in Calabar said, “it is important to point out that a day or two before the elections, our candidate was informed that it was the plan of the PDP to allocate to her the 4th position in the election to ensure she will not in any way come close to winning or even second in the event of a legal contest.

‘’This, she made known to party members at that time and the unfolding events have sadly proven this information to be correct, especially in the light of the position of the ANPP which publicly stated that it was not participating in the election and had not one single agent in any of the polling units across the state yet somehow was allocated a third position.”

The statement endorsed by Remy Agwuezie, the state secretary of the party, said, “it is unfortunate that this plan was hatched and enforced with the aid of INEC adhoc staff and some members of the police force, who from Akpabuyo to Obanliku local government councils, harassed, intimidated and especially targeted our party agents in the field and in some cases, like in Bekwarra, Obudu, Ogoja, Ikom, Obubra and Yakurr, our agents had to run for their lives or were assaulted and in one case in Calabar Municipality, locked up.’’

The LP stated further that, “in the case of Calabar Municipality, it took the intervention of Mr Mike Igini on our candidate’s call, to ensure the release of our arrested co-ordinating agent.

‘’Furthermore, our women voters were threatened, intimidated and prevented from casting their votes in some rural areas. Our candidate wishes to assure the general public that her crusade for the enthronement  of justice and fair play is not for personal benefits as it usually is with the typical politician, but for the general wellbeing of the people of Cross River State whose well being she holds dear to her heart.”

Vowing to seek redress over the perceived injustices, LP maintained that, ‘’it is for this reason therefore, she will consider the pursuit of all legitimate options to ensure that this illegitimate farce of an election  is nullified.’’

On its part, the Hope Democratic Party, said in a statement by its candidate and state chairman, Dr Theo Onyuku that it ‘’rejects in its entirety and in its totality, the governorship polls.”

Calling for its cancellation, he said what took place last Saturday in the state cannot take place in war-torn Somalia, Afghanistan or Iraq. According to him, INEC personnel, the youth corpers and securitymen compromised in their various duties during the election. “They rather did the bidding of the PDP for a fee,” he said.

Onyuku described it as ‘’a sham, a charade and blatant gang-rape of the democratic process in brazen, broad daylight violation of the electoral Act with serial defilement of the electoral process by the PDP.’’

Onyuku lamented that  ‘’from what I saw, the reports were heart-breaking, tear-jerking, characterized by clandestine inducement of voters, surreptiously goading them to vote the PDP thereby grossly violating the Electoral Act.

‘’In summary, we just witnessed rapacious monetization of electoral process with ruthless commercialization of election, all these give rise to hitech rigging and wayo-wayo manipulative dispositions with multiple thumb-printing by the PDP.

‘’The HDP will drag INEC, PDP and Imoke to court to challenge the conduct of the election and the result. The HDP rejects the result, rejects the fraudulent polls, the fraudulent outcome and the fraudulent mandate. This victory can never survive thorough judicial scrutiny.”

Obol Patrick Okomiso of the ANPP completely rejected both the conduct and result of the election, insisting that INEC has contravened court injunction ab initio.

He told journalists that  “those who resist change are usually changed by force. Do they think Arab Spring now flushing out evil regimes in North Africa and Middle East cannot happen even in this state?”

The chairman of the CDC, Sunday Michael said since the election was criminally rigged to favour the PDP, it should be cancelled.

The INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner, Barrister Mike Igini rejected the claims of the opposition, saying, “this is one of the best conducted elections in this country. Along with my team, I personally went to many parts of the state to monitor the personnel and the overall conduct of the exercise. I can confirm that it was very okay, but we must give room to minor human errors which were very negligible.”

Running mate of the PDP candidate, Efiok Cobham, praised the INEC for the conduct of the exercise, adding that the people freely performed their civic duties under a very peaceful atmosphere.

In his inaugural address at the Cultural Centre where the Chief Judge of the state, Mrs. Dorathy Eyamba, swore him in as the elected governor of the state, Imoke appealed to all aggrieved political opponents to sheath their swords, adding that he will run an inclusive government for the entrenched peace and further development of the state. Imoke maintained that his party worked hard and reached out move to the electorate, especially in the hinterland where his government’s developmental infrastructures, inundate.

Imoke said, “of course, we have our critics, but we completely and whole-heartedly embrace the criticism and view it as an opportunity to espouse and impart optimism. Not just by words but also by our deeds. As a government, we have an unspoken, immensely important social contract bound by trust, with the people we serve. In years past, that contract had been breached and the trust misplaced.”

Meanwhile, the Centre for Law Enforcement, Education in Nigeria (CLEEN FOUNDATION), engaged in the promotion of public safety, security and accessible justice, has recommended punishment for police officers and other security operatives who compromised in the February 25 gubernatorial election in Cross River state.

Deputy Director, Programmes, of CLEEN Foundation, Dr. Eban Ebai, told journalists in Calabar shortly after a seminar/analytic forum on the security situation during the February 25, gubernatorial poll in the state, that, “otherwise, if I were a judge with wide latitude of authority to punish offenders, I will recommend a five year jail term for such offenders.”

Dr. Ebai said the organization found some police officers’ conduct  “with great foresight and professionalism”, while others compromised their integrity and professional conduct during the poll.

“Some police officers compromised their integrity by collaborating with party agents and presiding officers to allow election malpractices.

“The deployment of security officials should be better co-ordinated and priority given to security presence at polling units over and above highways and roads, urging “INEC to continue to review its logistic deployment strategy and ensure that its staff and materials arrive all designated polling units on time.”

 

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