EDO 2024: Shaibu, Ojezua, seven others walk tight rope

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  • PDP tells aggrieved aspirants to approach appeal panel

 

  • Outcome ‘ll determine our next line of action – Ojezua

 

  • Delegates’ results from Etsako Central canceled over kidnap of electoral officials

 

The chairman of the Edo State People’s Democratic Party, Tony Aziegbemi, on Monday, urged aggrieved aspirants to take their protest over the conduct of the state delegate election to the appeal panel that will seat on Wednesday in Abuja.

Nine aspirants, including current Deputy Governor, Philip Shaibu, Omoregie Ogbeide-Ihama, Anselm Ojezua, Felix Akhabue, Martin Uhomoibhi, Haifa Hadizat Umoru, Omosede Igbinedion, Earl Osaro Onaiwu and Arthur Esene, had petitioned the acting National Chairman of the party, Umar Damagum, and copied the National Vice Chairman South-South of the party, Dan Orbih, protesting the process and compositions of those who conducted the delegates election.

The Chairman of the Ad-Hoc Ward Congresses Electoral Committee, Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State had also resigned his position before the election which gave room for Enugu State governor, Peter Mbah, to step in as the committee chairman, a development faulted by the aggrieved aspirants.

Aziegbemi, who said he disagreed with the nine aspirants, describing the election as fair and credible, urged them to be mindful of their utterances which are capable of bringing the PDP to disrepute.

He said the party aimed to ensure it remains in office by winning the governorship election on September 21, stating that the party has carried everyone along and left the door of reconciliation open.

He said, “In line with the timetable released by the Independent National Electoral Commission and the PDP, the National Working Committee organised the election of the adhoc delegates in Edo State.

“I have never seen a well organised and transparent election in the history of the party since I joined in 1999. I challenge anyone with a contrary opinion to bring out any evidence. We printed the register and ensured the election took place in 192 wards. Those who came to vote had to show their membership and voter cards to take part in the process.

“We made sure all the electoral officers moved to their centres on time and all the names of the aspirants were read out to ensure fairness and they could have been voted for if they were not on the ground.

“I urge the nine aggrieved aspirants to take their grievances to the appeal panel headed by Dickson Seriake on February 7 in Abuja to lodge their complaints and desist from utterance that can tarnish the image of the party,” he added.

Aziegbemi said that 563 delegates were elected, stating that the election to choose 31 delegates could not take place at Etsako Central due to the alleged abduction of nine electoral officers, who he said, were yet to be found.

“The nine electoral officers were kidnapped around Jattu on their way to Etsako Central Local Government Area of the Edo State on the morning of the exercise. As at the time we were closing the Congress yesterday (Sunday), the whereabouts of these men were not known.

“The Commissioner of Police was immediately called upon to investigate the issue. As at the end of the exercise, the electoral officers were still not seen. So, the Committee took the decision to cancel results from Etsako Central as the result from that area will have no effect on the overall results in terms of the governorship primary on February 22, 2024.”

According to him, “In PDP, life comes first and the lives of the electoral officers are important. So, canceling the result was the best decision the committee took in this regard. People can’t be in the kidnappers’ den while the election takes place.

“We expect that Etsako Central is supposed to give 31 delegates and overall, we are expecting 594 delegates to vote in the governorship primary later in February. If you take that ratio 31 to 594, perhaps the decision to cancel is the best taken by the Committee.

“The governor has spoken with the Police and Inspector General of Police to ensure that these people regain their freedom and expect that they will not be harmed. The security situation in Edo State has improved tremendously and incidents of kidnapping have also reduced. This is a one-off act which is very sad; I trust the security agencies will get to the bottom of this.”

One of the aggrieved aspirants, Anslem Ojezua told journalists that they (the aspirants) would be present at the appeal panel to state their case.

He, however, said that the outcome of the panel would determine their next line of action.

“We will be at the appeal panel on February 7 and lodge a complaint and the decision reached will determine our next line of action,” he added.

When asked if the group would approach the court for redress, he said that they would keep their options open.