By Lateef Ibrahim, Abuja
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has called for the cancellation of Saturday bye-election to fill the vacant Lokoja/ Kotonkafe Federal Constituency seat in Kogi State, citing alleged irregularities including snatching of ballot boxes, falsification of results, financial inducement of voters, using of security agents to harass voters and alleged involvement of Kogi State officials in perpetrating irregularities.
The party attributed cancellation of a total of 19,760 votes in 17 polling units by INEC, as part of the grand plot to rob PDP of victory.
While addressing a press conference in Abuja on Sunday on behalf the party’s stakeholders, the Chairman, Kogi State chapter of PDP, Sam Ohuotu, lamented that the election was marred by violence, brazen impunity, coercion, intimidation and vote buying.
The PDP also said that identified appointees and key officials of the Kogi State Government, who were not indigenes or voters in the Federal Constituency, were seen intimidating and harassing the electorates with armed thugs and officers of SARS and the Nigerian Police should be prosecuted and adequately punished for electoral offences.
Some of the officials of the Kogi State government fingered by the PDP included; Senator Smart Adeyemi, Edward Onoja, the Chief of Staff to Kogi State Governor, and Mathew Kolawole, the Speaker, Kogi State House of Assembly.
Parts of allegations raised by the PDP included “accredited Voters were not allowed to vote, as armed thugs shot sporadically into the air after accreditation, forcing the electorates to flee for their lives, for instance this was widespread in Osuku in Kotonkarfe Area of the Federal Constituency.
“In the early hours of Saturday, the 11th August, these thugs were mobilized to all polling units in the two local governments (at least three to four armed thugs were mobilized to each polling unit under police supervision), some were dressed in mufti, others in brand new uniforms with “Special Force”, encrypted and engraved on their shirts and on the caps. Others were seen in white hooded caps and fully armed.
“These Youths and fearful looking able bodied men were in the company of Security operatives, especially “the SARS” and were conveyed to their various operation theatres in Kogi State Government House Vehicles. “These “Special Forces” and hoodlums became the instrument used by the Kogi State Government under the instructions and supervision of its principal officials to unleash violence, snatch ballot boxes, drive away voters and opposition party agents in a desperate bid to swing the House of Representatives Bye Election in the favour of the Ruling APC.
“Whilst in some Polling Units, elections were going on in a seemingly peaceful manner, albeit with vote merchandise by the APC in collaboration with INEC ‘ and the Security operatives, these Thugs invaded the said polling units and threatened the PDP and other opposition party faithful, unleashed violence on them and snatched away ballot materials to the Government House, snuffed it with votes in favour of the ruling Party’s candidate and returned it back to the already compromised Electoral body in a desperate and barbaric bid to secure the votes in their favour”.
“Specifically, when voting started in a polling Unit known as Club, in Lokoja. whilst counting and when it was obvious that PDP had scored about 185 votes and AFC 32, these armed thugs came with their Kogi State Government owned Toyota Hilux Vehicle and shot sporadically into the air, snatched the ballot boxes, drove away.
“This was replicated in SUBEB, NEPA, Holy Trinity, St Mary’s Primary School, Paparanda, Karaworo Polling Unit, Bishop Crowther Polling Unit amongst many others. In fact at Crowther Polling Unit, it was a uniform Police Officer that was arranging voters on line to be paid sums of N 2000 to them in broad day light at the voting centre after coercing them to vote APC.
“In all the Polling Units, women were given Onions, Salt and other domestic cooking materials in customized APC Leather bags in a bid to secure votes”, the Kogi PDP said.
The party pointed out that it will submit a petition over the incident at the headquarters of Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, and in other relevant agencies today in Abuja, having done sane in Kogi State earlier.