Against the backdrop of criticism and allegations of flaws in the conduct of the October 12 Delta Central Senatorial District bye-election and the subsequent declaration of Emmanuel Aguariavwodo of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as winner by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the state Chairman of PDP, Barr. Peter Nwaoboshi has said the party would withstand the opposition at the election tribunal.
Speaking at an exclusive Press briefing with newsmen in Asaba, on Tuesday, October 15, 2013 at the state PDP Secretariat, Nwaoboshi queried allegations from opposition parties and derided O’tega Emerhor, canidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Ede Dafinone of the Democratic Peoples party (DPP).
While recalling Emerhor’s complain of massive militarization during the bye-election, Nwaoboshi revealed that at Evwereni ward 3, in Ughelli North local government area, APC scored over 98% of the votes cast, while other parties got less than 2% of total votes cast.
“The total registered voters in that ward is 6, 349. APC secured 6,033, PDP scored 158 and DPP got 75, totaling 6, 266 votes cast. This represents about 98% of the registered voters. Does this show that voters were intimidated to stay at home?”
On the alleged imposition of Chief Emmanuel Aguariavwodo on the PDP, Nwaboshi said the plot to adopt the former NDDC boss was a unanimous party decision of stakeholders and a reflection unity within the party.
Chief Nwaoboshi, who lauded other PDP aspirants who did not revolt against the party for not picking them, challenged the opposition to be prepared to defend all the allegations at the election petition tribunal, saying “We shall meet them at the tribunal”.
The result of the by-election, as announced by the Returning Officer, Prof. John Arubayi, shows that Aguariavwodo polled 263,024 votes to defeat eight other candidates, which include Olorogun O’tega Emerhor of All Progressive Congress (APC) 29,075 votes to emerge second, followed by Chief Ede Dafinone of the Democratic Peoples’ Party (DPP) with 29,055 votes while Chief Andi Osawota of the Labour Party scored 1,602 votes.
Meanwhile, following the announcement of Aguariavwodo, as the winner of the Delta Central Senatorial District bye-election, Delta State Governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan attributed the party’s victory at the polls to its strong ward structure.
The Delta Central Senatorial district winner, Chief Emmanuel Aguariavwodo, had thanked the people of Delta Central for their support, promising that he was going to do his best in ensuring that he brings the dividends of democracy to them.
A statemnt by Chief Ede Dafinon, alling for outright cancellation of the October 12, 2013 bye-election result for Delta Central Senatorial District reads:
“Thank you for coming. As you are aware, I am the candidate of my party, the Democratic People’s Party (DPP) for the senatorial bye-election scheduled for yesterday, October 12, 2013. We are here today to tell the world that the people of Delta Central were yesterday violently denied the right to choose a senator of their own. The proposed election to elect a senator was a complete sham.
“There was no election, as defined by our laws. The scale of impunity, assault, molestations and violence by the PDP, thugs/cultists and the supposed security agents was just unimaginable. The lopsided and partisan involvement of state security apparatuses in supporting the PDP and the brazen use of thugs to unleash violence and mayhem on our party members and the electorate is unprecedented. Thus there is now very serious concerns for the progress of our nascent democracy and diminishing hope for peace, unity and good governance of Nigeria now and in the immediate future.
“The significant confidence brought into our elections in 2011 due to visible improvements on the 2003 and 2007 elections was completely wiped off yesterday. The PDP and the Government have yesterday sent, in no uncertain terms, a strong message that the security apparatus of this nation will foist the PDP on the nation at every cost. As was demonstrated yesterday in Urhobo land, security forces and the government will turn a blind eye to open violence and crimes against citizens and a section of the electorate perceived to be supporting other parties outside the PDP.
“Because our agents were openly shot at and maimed yesterday, as it was in 2003 and 2007, we are able to say that the days where elections are gun wars are back. Because INEC officials and NYSC ad hoc personnel bluntly refused to go out to conduct the election in several places, we are also able to categorically say that government, through these agencies, decided the outcome of the election in a clearly premeditated manner. Because security personnel openly flogged and beat up our agents and supporters everywhere without justification, we are able to say that violent bias was used as a tool to coerce our supporters to abandon polling stations. Because in various communities security personnel watched, allowed, participated in and supervised the hijacking of ballot boxes and other election materials by PDP thugs and government officials, we are also able to say that the so-called election was rigged with clear government approval. Because INEC did not release or issue out election result sheets and other sensitive election materials in most places but ‘results’ somehow managed to emerged in favour of the PDP, we are able to say that the so-called results were made to suit the PDP even before any election. Because few electoral materials appeared as late as 3.30PM in the few places where a few INEC officials managed to reach, we are able to say that our people were deliberately excluded from the election since accreditation was meant to end by 12.00Noon. There was just no election as defined by our laws and common sense!
“The point must be made that we do not expect perfect elections anywhere in the world. But we do expect that there will be improvements on past performances. This is just not the case here. What we had was resort to brute force to suppress the will of the people of Delta Central. Yes, it is often said that politicians tend to find faults to justify unsuccessful outcomes of the electoral bids. Ours is just clearly different. We did not lose an election. There has to be an election before we talk about winners and losers.
“This is a clear case of naked criminality; not an election. It is a clear case of the government imposing Chief Emmanuel Agwariavwodo on Delta Central in the same manner and style he was imposed on his party. This is impossible with a truly independent INEC. Herein lies a clear and imminent danger for our democracy. Therefore, we reject whatever result announced by INEC as it is not a true reflection of the democratic will of our people. We call for an outright cancellation of the said election and any fake result arising from same.
“Indeed, we are at a loss on why and how violence and external interference have to be brought into Delta central in the name of election. Delta Central electoral is largely the Urhobo people who have never been so marginalized at the national and state levels as we are today. The dearth of Urhobos at both Federal and State levels belies our position as the fifth largest ethnic nationality in Nigeria. That as a people we are not allowed freely elect our leaders is a further confirmation of the oppression of the Urhobo nation.
“We in the Democratic People’s Party (DPP) do not give in or succumb to undemocratic actions which attack the political will or threaten the unity of our good people. We shall continue to explore all legitimate options to free our people from oppression, suppression and bad leadership. Our commitment to democracy and justice remains firm.
“We support the call by our Party for calm and call on all our supporters maintain the peace even in the face of this extreme provocation. May I, on behalf of our effective grassroots campaign team, leaders, elders, women and youths sincerely thank all our people of Delta Central for their support and prayers. God bless you.”
Also, a corroborative draft statement signed by the Delta State DPP Chairman, Chief Tony Ezeagwu, and made available to Blank NEWS Online on at 2.00PM, October 12, 2013 on alleged rigging of the bye-election reads:
“Today, the Urhobo people were violently denied the collective right to choose a senator of their own. The proposed election to elect a senator is now emerging as a complete sham which we can not associate with under any guise. The scale of impunity and violence by the PDP, thugs/cultists and ‘security agents’ is just unimaginable. The involvement of state security apparatuses is particularly questionable. We are at a loss why and how such violence and external interference have to be brought into Urhobo in the name of election. We dissociate ourselves from the so-called election.
“There was no election and we know the conflagration that could follow if we do not stop our people early enough from going to Collation Centres to witness the collation of fake results. It is our responsibility to prevent a total breakdown of law and order. We therefore call on all our agents and election officials to avoid the temptation of physically challenging the PDP and security and. INEC officials, both real and fake, at any designated Collation Centre. We urge our people to hold the peace no matter the anger, intimidation and violence.
“As law-abiding people, we in the Democratic Peoples Party (DPP) do not give credibility to that which is undemocratic, threatens the unity of our people and makes us a laughing stock. We believe in the vision of our leaders to make our people great based on the finest ideals of democracy. We shall continue to explore all lawful options to this end.
“Today, most unfortunately, our people have been setback but our commitment to democracy and justice remains unshaken. We trust our candidate, Chief Ede Dafinone, who was set for a landslide victory and all our members and supporters to abide by our value of peace even in this clear case of extreme provocation. This value has brought us this far and we have no doubt it will always prevail.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) alleged that the bye-election was marred by “electoral malpractice and widespread violence perpetrated by security agents and thugs.’’
In a statement issued in Lagos on last Sunday by its Interim National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party alleged that there was no voting at all in most of the eight local government areas and the 85 wards in the district, adding that “the PDP used armed security agents to chase away voters in opposition strongholds.’’
On his part, the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) Chairman in Delta, Ogueshi Eboka, said PDP won the election and the exercise was peaceful. “We participated and we tried our best but could not win. Definitely, I knew that PDP would win.”
For Olorogun David Omoru, candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), “The bye-election is a disgrace to the Urhobo nation. Emmanuel Aguariavwodo was never elected but imposed on the people by use of force and intimidation. We are going to the Tribunal to prove our case for cancellation. My legalteam is ready with overwhelming evidence against the PDP.”