Gov Godwin Obaseki
Gov Godwin Obaseki

CHAIRMAN of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Edo State, Mr Anselm Ojezua said President Muhammadu Buhari would lead the party members to Benin on Tuesday for their governorship campaigns finale. Ojezua disclosed this while speaking to journalists in Benin on Monday, adding that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and all APC governors would be at the event. He said that the rally would take place at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in Benin. The News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, reported that the governorship poll in the state would hold on Saturday. Ojezua said that the National Campaign Council for the election headed by Gov. Akinwumi Ambode of Lagos State was already in Benin to prepare grounds for the rally, noting that all arrangements had been concluded to ensure that the event was hitch-free. “All logistics to ensure free movement of the visitors and party supporters across the state have also been perfected. “Anytime APC is holding rally, there is always mass mobilisation. Once the people know that the president is coming this time around our people will be so excited to receive him,” he said. The party chairman called on the people, irrespective of party affiliation, to come out en-masse to welcome the president and his entourage to the state. Meanwhile, the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium venue of the rally is wearing a new look ahead of the event.
When the stadium was visited, soldiers and other security operatives were seen taking charge to ensure adequate security ahead of the event. They were also seen at major roads leading in and out of the stadium. In a related development, ahead of the Saturday governorship polls in Edo State, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, yesterday declared its readiness to conduct the polls but asked stakeholders to be of good conduct. Professor Mohammad Kuna, special adviser to the commission’s chairman, stated this at a public presentation of the security threat assessment for the governorship election organised by CLEEN Foundation in Benin City. He added that the commission had been well equipped in terms of human and capital resources to carry out the exercise, adding that all stakeholders must be up and doing to ensure violence-free polls. “It is, however, important that the people must own the process of electoral system. It has been observed that whatever the modalities INEC has put on ground to conduct a credible poll, the people must ensure that they behave in a civil manner to help democracy grow in the country.” However, the PDP in the state is expressing concerns over the commission’s refusal of a meeting with local government collation officers, returning officer for the state, staff in charge of card readers, e-collation officers and members of the ICT team assigned to the state to conduct the elections. State publicity secretary of the party, Mr Chris Nehikhare said that with less than five days to the election, the names and
identities of these staff had not been made public. “Information available to us is that INEC has granted requests made by the All Progressives Congress, APC, for a similar meeting with the above mentioned staff,” it said, adding that it was informed that members of APC had been granted remote access to INEC servers and INEC e-collation platforms. “We are informed that this was done in furtherance of a plan by certain officials of INEC to grant APC real time access to INEC’s e-collation platforms in a bid to enable them manipulate results on the field at polling stations where they are losing elections or disrupt the electoral process at such locations.” Nehikhare added: “We believe that such a meeting will avail us the opportunity to lay our complaints and information available to us before INEC in detail.” At the stakeholders meeting, Professor Mim Abutudu of the University of Benin stated that rigging and fear of electoral manipulation could be a high risk factor that could raise the level of violence, and urged INEC to ensure that materials were deployed on time to the various polling units. For his part, Mr Benson Olugbuo, executive director, CLEEN Foundation, explained that the foundation had as one of its cardinal objectives the monitoring and reporting of the level of security threat to the conduct of elections in Nigeria. Other stakeholders agreed that the activities of security agencies, including officials of INEC, must be checked to ensure that the process was violence-free, credible and fair to all.

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