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BY SIMON EBEGBULEM & GABRIEL ENOGHOLASE
THE All Progressives Congress, APC, Chairmanship candidate, Sam Oboh, has been declared winner of the Esan North-East Local Government Council of Edo State, by-election, held yesterday.
Chairman of Edo State Independent Electoral Commission, EDSIEC, Mr. Solomon Ogoh, who announced the result at about 8 pm, said Oboh scored 12, 672 votes to defeat the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, candidate, Mr. John Yakubu, who scored 3,314 votes.
In the rescheduled Chairmanship and councilors elections which held amid tight security, leaders of both the APC and PDP had earlier accused each other of rigging.
Two persons were allegedly caught with already thump printed ballot boxes while 22 others were arrested for alleged disturbances and taken to Uromi Police Station where being detained at the time of this report.
Prince Joe Okojie, APC leader, who spoke to newsmen, where he was detained by the police at Uromi police station, said: “I came to the police station to lay a complaint. I later left to my polling unit to bring a camera which I intended to give to somebody at the station. As I was coming back, the Mopol Commander who is based in Lagos but came back home to work for the PDP, ambushed me and some other APC leaders and brought all of us to the police station. They feel that they can rig the election if we are detained here. They disrupted the election in my Ward, Ward 5 and Ward 7, when they found out that they were losing. We knew this would happen because they flooded this town with mobile policemen from Abuja and Lagos and they are intimidating, harassing and arresting APC leaders. But we will resist this intimidation. Their PDP leader, the minister is around. They came with thousands of mobile policemen to kill our people but they have failed.”
Violence in Ward 5
Elections into the twelve wards in the Council had commenced peacefully until 1:30pm when violence erupted in Ward 5, which had the highest number of polling units in the council. The Chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees, Chief Tony Anenih and the Minister of Works, Arch Mike Onolememen, were around to cast their votes.
Tension heightened at about 12:30pm at Ward 5, when the people were yet to receive voting materials. A Mopol officer stormed the ward arresting some APC youths. The youths resisted him, an action which further heightened the tension at the polling unit.
However, temporary relief came when the Edo State Commissioner of Police, Funsho Adebanjo and the state Director of State Service DSS, Bello Bakori, arrived the place to restore peace.
Adebanjo told Vanguard that “there is water tight security, nobody will mess up here”.
At 12pm, leaders of the APC and PDP all agreed that the election was peaceful but expressed concern over alleged plans to rig.
At ward 7, the member representing the area at the Federal House of Representatives and PDP chieftain, Mr Friday Itulah, said though the election commenced late, he was happy that people were voting peacefully.
He however alleged that an EDSIEC official was seen with ink all over his body indicating that he might have been thumb-printing for the APC candidate.
In his reaction, APC chieftain, Prince Joe Okojie, accused the PDP of alleged rigging, harassment and intimidation of their members.
He said: “Somebody from this community, who is a MOPOL Commander based in Lagos, who obviously is working for the PDP, came this morning arresting three of our members. I went to the Police station to bail two of them but I was shocked while I was coming from the Police station he came to arrest two more persons.
” It was at that point that our people resisted him. The PDP tried to use their federal might to intimidate and harass our people but we will resist them.”
At Atani Primary School the camera of Tell Magazine’s Director of Special Duties, Mrs Adekunbi Ero, was allegedly snatched from her as she attempted to take photographs of the chaotic scene caused by political thugs.
A reporter with The News Magazine, Jethro Ebileke, was also allegedly rough handled.
Meantime, at the time of this report, early results indicated that the APC won the councillorship election in Ward 9, Ovia North-East Local Government and in Isi Ward, Uhunmwode Local Government Area.