Opposition parties in Delta state have called for the cancellation of Saturday’s bye-election for Delta Central Senatorial District.
The declaration of Emmanuel Aguariavwodo of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), as the senator-elect by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), attracted condemnation and severe criticism of the electoral umpire by all opposition parties in the state.
Aguariavwodo allegedly won the election with 263,024 votes as against the 29, 075 and 29, 055 polled by O’tega Emerhor of the All Progressive Congress (APC) and Ede Definone of the Democratic Peoples’ Party (DPP) respectively.
Delta State Chairman of the DPP, Tony Ezeagwu who rejected the result, called for outright cancellation of the results, maintaining that it was not a true reflection of what transpired during the bye-election as it was a mere allocation of votes to the respective candidates, just as the interim national publicity secretary of APC, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, had in a press statement issued in Lagos, condemned the manner in which the election was conducted and also rejected the declared result.
Both the APC and DPP alleged that the election was not in substantial compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act and the 1999 Constitution as amended.
The DPP state chairman said “there were no elections in Delta central on Saturday as far we are concerned and I wonder where INEC manufactured those results from. The exercise was a sham and a complete failure. So we are calling for a total cancellation of the exercise.”
Candidate of DPP, Ede Dafenone, while expressing his displeasure over the announced result, noted that there was 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.
Dafenone, in a press statement released to journalists in Warri, said that the significant confidence brought into our elections in 2011 due to visible improvements on the 2003 and 2007 elections was completely wiped off with the conduct the bye-election.
He alleged in the statement that his party 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.”
“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,” adding that “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,” Dafenone said in a press statement.
He said the PDP and the government have 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 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,” he said.
While noting that Nigerians “do not expect perfect elections,” Dafenone said “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,” he said.
Also commenting on the bye-election, Delta state chairman of Labour Party, Emeka Nkwoala said “it was a flawed election, characterised by intimidation and harassment of voters, ballot snatching and no election in some wards. This election cannot stand; we shall contest it at the tribunal.”
He expressed worries that if the 2015 general elections are also marred by such flaws, the doom prediction of Nigeria’s disintegration might come to pass and therefore urged INEC and security officials to be “very careful so as not to truncate this democracy.”
On his part, candidate of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), David Omoru, said the bye-election was a disgrace to the Urhobo nation, maintaining that “Aguariavwodo was never elected but imposed on the people by the use of force and intimidation. We are going to the tribunal to prove our case for cancellation. My legal team is ready with overwhelming evidence against the PDP.”