Protests as INEC declares Obaseki winner

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Olusola Fabiyi, Kamarudeen Ogundele, Alexander
Okere and Toluwani Eniola

the Independent National Electoral Commission, on
Thursday, declared the governorship candidate of
the All Progressives Congress, Godwin Obaseki,
the winner of the Wednesday, September 28
Governorship Election in Edo State.

A short but heavy rain momentarily dispersed a
crowd that had started gathering at the popular
Ring Road in the state capital.

The APC supporters later regrouped to celebrate
the victory in the keenly contested election, where
Obaseki defeated the candidate of the Peoples
Democratic Party, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu.

The Returning Officer and Vice-Chancellor, Federal
University, Oye Ekiti, Prof. Kayode Soremekun,
declared Obaseki the winner of the election at
about 4.08 pm amid tight security.

The APC candidate polled 319,483 votes to defeat
Ize-Iyamu of the PDP, who scored 253,173 votes
in the election.
Soremekun said Obaseki “having satisfied the
requirement of the law, scored the highest number
of votes, is hereby declared the winner and is
returned elected.”
The announcement of the results was, however, not
without a drama.
Soremekun fought off stiff resistance from the
PDP’s State Agent, Mr. Chris Agbonwanegbe, who
refused to sign the final result sheet.
Agbonwanegbe had, during the collation of results,
demanded the cancellation of the election.
When called to sign the final results, he protested
that the results were “rehearsed and produced.”
The submission jolted Soremekun, who could not
hide his shock.
Agbonwanegbe said, “Mr. Chairman, please don’t
disagree with me; let us say it the way it is.
“The theatre has been on for some time, it has
now been finally produced. I can’t endorse it (final
result). I want it to be on record that I refused to
endorse it. I can’t sign this document.
“I made a request that you should look at the
collation of Etsako West and other local
governments, you said I should go to court instead
of looking at it. Even when some of your officers
said they were threatened with guns. I can’t
endorse the result”
While the collation of the results from the local
governments was going on, angry supporters of
the PDP stormed the INEC’s office in Benin.
The protesters alleged that INEC connived with the
APC to manipulate the results of the governorship
poll.
They sang solidarity songs to protest alleged
cancellation of results of some poling units and
manipulation of result sheets by INEC officials.
They brandished placards with inscriptions such
as “Oshiomhole must go”, “Ize-Iyamu won the
poll”, “Peace not war, INEC,” and “Poll results
unacceptable to us.”
Riot policemen, stationed in front of the INEC office,
tried to pacify the protesters to no avail while a
police helicopter hovered in the sky to monitor the
situation.
One of the PDP leaders, who led the protesters
was the Senator representing Edo South Senatorial
District, Matthew Urhoghide.
Addressing journalists at the INEC’s office,
Urhoghide said, “I came here to tell the Resident
Electoral Commissioner about my disgust about
the results that the commission has been
announcing. I voted at Ward 2, Unit 9, Oredo Local
Government Area.
“The exercise was very peaceful there and there
was no record of violence. I was, however,
surprised to hear INEC say that results of two units
in the ward were cancelled owing to electoral
violence. I felt highly dehumanised and
disenfranchised.
“The figures they are brandishing now do not
correspond with the large turnout of voters
yesterday. We hereby demand that the result of the
cancelled units should be announced.”
As of 11.am, the protesters had increased in
number, and were becoming more aggressive.
After results had been announced for nine of the 18
local government areas in the state, the INEC
officials announced a break. This further
aggravated the supporters.
The police deployed in the area fired canisters to
disperse the angry protesters. Many residents, who
were observing the exercise, scampered for safety.
On resumption, the Collation Officer for the Etsako
West Local Government Area, Prof. Adewole Atere,
while defending the cancellation of 10,158 votes in
some polling units, alleged that Obaseki’s running
mate, Philip Shuaibu, threatened to attack INEC
officials at collation centre.
He said this while reacting to an allegation by the
APC State Agent, Samson Abu, that he (Atere)
mutilated the result sheet for the area during the
announcement of local government results at the
state headquarters of the commission.
Abu had protested the cancellation of results in
Wards 5, 7, 11 and 12, where he said his party’s
candidate was popular.
He stated, “The collation officer, from the record
before me from our agents, the result sheet was
mutilated by you, if you can produce it and sample
it for everybody here to see. For example, in Ward
5, three units (were) cancelled. In Ward 11, units 1,
5, 6, 12, 15, 16 cancelled. In Ward 12, two units
cancelled. In Ward 7, one unit cancelled.
“The excuse you gave our agent was that as a
result of error in calculation committed by you.
You know, in these areas, I suspect foul play,
although I’m not from that place, because the
running mate to the APC governorship candidate is
from there and is very popular.
“All the areas that you cancelled the votes for one
reason or the other are the areas that harbour the
family of the running mate to the APC governorship
candidate.”
But Atere said, “I thought we would just allow the
sleeping dog to snore. It was the same candidate
of yours who accosted the CO in Unit 11 with
about six guns and drove him (CO) to the corner of
the collation centre, forcing him to mutilate. I did
not mutilate any paper; my papers are here.
“Number two, this same candidate went to the
office of INEC to repeat the same thing on the
electoral officer and later came to the collation
centre, where I served with 10 gun-toting men,
threatening to kill all of us.
“I want to say that this same candidate several
times told the man, who handled that Ward 11, that
he was a dead man. He repeated it three times and
that was why we managed to put him (electoral
officer) on the security vehicle to get him to Benin
City here.”
When asked by the Action Alliance candidate,
Ishaka Paul, if he reported the incident to the
police, Atere said, “For the case of the man who
handled Ward 11, all the security men deserted
him. For the EO, he was locked up in his room. In
our own case, we were rescued by the men of the
quick intervention force, who drove the Auchi
vigilante people out of the place. They were
actually coming for me, when the men of quick
intervention came in. So, the police are aware of
it.”
Meanwhile, the National Caretaker Committee of the
PDP said that its agents were currently collating
results of the governorship election.
Spokesperson for the Senator Ahmed Makarfi-led
committee, Mr. Dayo Adeyeye, stated this in an
interview with one of our correspondents in Abuja
on Wednesday.
He said the committee would react to the result by
INEC on Friday.
Adeyeye added, “We are collating the results of the
election as obtained by our agents.
“When we finish doing that, we shall react to the
release of the result by INEC tomorrow (today). For
now, we have no reaction.”
Also, the factional National Chairman of the party,
Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, said he had not accepted
the result of the election, adding that his reaction
might not be different from the general position
adopted by the majority members of the PDP.
He stated this in a statement by his media aide,
Inuwa Bwala.
“We have had situations in the past where results
were released via the media only for the official
results to turn out otherwise,” Sheriff stated.
Ize-Iyamu, rejects results, cite irregularities
Also, Ize-Iyamu rejected the result of the
governorship election, describing it as
predetermined.
The PDP candidate said the result of the election,
held across the 18 local government areas, did not
reflect what was collated by agents of the party
and independent observers.
He also alleged that there were irregularities during
the exercise, adding that a plot was orchestrated to
ensure that the PDP lost the election.
According to him, before the earlier scheduled date
of the election, serial numbers of result sheets
were allegedly released to parties on September 8,
adding that that information was used to write fake
results.
Ize-Iyamu was flanked by the state Chairman of
the PDP, Chief Dan Orbih, who declared that the
results announced by the presiding officers at
different polling units revealed that the PDP was
ahead of the ruling APC by a minimum of 30,000.
Orbih further alleged that in areas, where the PDP
was declared winner, the party’s votes were
removed on the excuse of faulty card readers, a
plot he said the party had alerted Nigerians and
other relevant stakeholders on.
Ize-Iyamu, a former Secretary to the State
Government in Edo State, also alleged that between
N3bn and N4bn was spent by the state
government to induce voters in the presence of
security agents on Election Day.
Ize-Iyamu explained, “The delay in announcing the
official result by INEC was clearly predetermined
and designed to announce fabricated results that
are completely at variance with what happened at
the units.
“To show that the result was predetermined, if you
look at the result, it does not even reflect the huge
turnout they (APC) even attested to. Even their
national chairman commended the huge turnout.
“The result was written without taking into
cognizance the huge turnout. We have told our
agents to bring out their results; we do not want to
rely on the messages sent to us.
“In the next three or four days, we shall have the
complete record of the results. I can, however, tell
you that from our findings, a lot of manipulation
took place.”

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