PDP Thugs Disrupted Elections In Edo – Ojezua | Independent Newspapers Limited
Newsletter subscribe


PDP Thugs Disrupted Elections In Edo – Ojezua

Posted: May 1, 2015 at 12:55 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Anselm Ojezua, Chairman of All Progressives Congress (APC) in Edo State, in this interview with FRANCIS ONOIRIBHOLO, explains that his party has decided to do away with impunity as well as imposition of candidates and other forms of godfatherism in the polity. He also spoke on other issues. Excerpts…

What is your observation about the just concluded general elections?



Well, the first thing to observe is the significance of the use of the card readers which has more or less eliminated possibilities of one aspect of rigging which was very rampant in the past. So, that is a significant observation.

Many people still criticized this card readers system, are you one of them?

You will notice that in the Presidential and National Assembly elections, the card readers posed some level of problems but you see that they were traceable to human problems, the persons that were deployed to handle those card readers were ill prepared for that job rather than the card readers themselves. Some of them were obviously seeing the tool for the first time. We have information that politicians manipulated some INEC officials to change Adhoc staff members who were trained and people who were not trained were put in and on this basis it became a problem operating those card readers. However, in the 2nd round of election which was the House of Assembly elections you could see the card readers worked flawlessly; virtually throughout the country apart from areas where you could see deliberate decisions not to use the card reader in order to facilitate obvious rigging in parts of Nigeria. But in all the places where card readers were deployed there was remarkable improvement in the efficiency of the device.

In other words, as the Chairman of APC in Edo State, you are satisfied with the entire process?

I have reservations about the process in the Presidential and the National Assembly elections; there were clear cases of manipulations, clear cases of intimidation, clear cases of inducement to a point where there was collusion between PDP and some INEC staff. You will recall that it got to the point where INEC was forced to sanction two of its staff but I know that that situation was pervasive across the state and you could see from the result that that result was a more or less a freak. If you compare that with what happened in the state House of Assembly elections where INEC consciously now did what was supposed to be done and the process took a life of its own, you could see the natural will of the people evolving from the process and that is how it should have been. So there is a difference between what happened in the Presidential and National Assembly elections and what happened in the other election. I mean you can imagine an election where about 150,000 votes were voided for one flimsy reason or the other without regard for the true intention of the voter himself.

What about the underage voting observed in some parts of the country, are you in support of that?

I am not in support of underage voting. I think underage voting should be discouraged but my take on it is that once you see this, that is the reason why you have agents in the booth, if a child obviously less than the age of 18 presents himself to vote, the job of the agent is to immediately object to the acceptability of that child not after the fact, right there on the spot the objection should be made and where they insist then of course it will become a ground for a petition. Besides, those children were registered when the APC was yet to take root as a political party in the country, so it may not have been the handiwork of APC and, in any case, who exactly can determine to whom the votes of the underage voters went?

Don’t you think these mistakes were made during the registration?

Of course, it is all part of the process. If at the time of registration – again during registration, parties had agents and so when a child was being registered, an agent was supposed to have raised objection or even reservation, and where it is not taken then they can pick the issue up with the party. So it is at that point the process starts and it is at that point objections should have been raised, not after the election.

Do you also subscribe to the suggestion that the card reader should be applied in local government election?

Of course, you see, Nigerians should embrace technology, the whole world is now technology-driven; even the card reader is not novel in the world; it is only new in Nigeria because Nigeria was detained by the greed and manipulative culture of its political leaders. Today I am happy that INEC has removed us from that primitive era; we are now at an acceptable level of technology, we cannot look back. So, in those places where you find one party getting all the local governments let them prove it with the card reader. I subscribe to the use of card readers as a tool for accreditation.

How will you assess the entire results in Edo State because APC was also alleged to have tried to induce or influence INEC officials, the reason why Orhionmwon was canceled?

Let me correct this. Orhionmwon was canceled because PDP thugs disrupted the electoral process, not because APC influenced INEC staff. No, it was violence perpetrated by PDP that led to the disruption of the elections and the cancellation of that process. You will notice that when proper security arrangements were put in place and the proper staff of INEC were now deployed, PDP withdrew from the election.

Did you accept the way that withdrawal was effected by your main opponents?

It was their choice, but we participated, the election held, people voted and results were announced.

How true is the accusation that ballot boxes were snatched in some local government areas and were later returned, the ballot papers inside counted and were accepted?

You know politicians when they make these accusations you will have to take it with a pinch of salt, let us re-visit the procedure. If in the course of voting, ballot boxes were snatched, reports must be made to the Supervisory Presiding Officer (SPO) and the electoral officer of that Local Government immediately and in writing. When that happens and they verify that report to be true, it is outright cancellation. You do not make the report of ballot snatching after the results are in and collated, does it make sense, something happened in the morning and you are reporting it after the fact in the evening, I think that it is fraudulent. If something happens there must be a report, the Police, the SSS, they are all security agencies and they are involved in this process and they must be part of it, they will also make their own report. Do not forget that there were policemen in every polling unit when anything happens they are obliged to make reports to their own superior officers and those ones will liaise with INEC to do the proper thing but people should not come up with false allegations to deny voters their rights to choose simply because the result did not go their way, I think that is dis-honourable on the part of those who are making those allegations.