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APC, PDP Differ On Call To Shift Edo Elections

* Say intelligence report indicates planned terror attack Security advice triggers confusion in Edo 
*It’ll only postpone the burial of PDP — Oshiomhole 
*APC jittery, afraid of defeat; wants to buy time — PDP

The Department of State Services, DSS, and the Nigeria Police, yesterday called for the postponement of the Edo State governorship election scheduled for Saturday on the basis of feared attacks by unknown insurgents and terrorists during next week’s Sallah break. Sequel to the call, confusion, yesterday, enveloped plans for the polls.

The call, which came as the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, was having a last minute meeting with stakeholders in Benin-City, including the police, DSS and political parties, immediately divided the major parties. 

While the All Progressives Congress, APC, welcomed it with reservations as a delayed burial of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, the opposition party, however, strongly opposed it, describing it as a conspiracy between the ruling APC and security agencies to thwart the will of the people.

The PDP sate chairman, Chief Dan Orbih, said the security agencies and INEC had told them at the stakeholders’ meeting that they were well prepared for the election.

Ize-Iyamu and Obaseki
Ize-Iyamu and Obaseki
Meanwhile, following the confusion, INEC, again, moved into another stakeholders’ meeting where the commission took submissions from the stakeholders who had mobilised for the election. 

INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, was on his way to Abuja from Benin to meet with the heads of the Police and the DSS to get further details on the reason for the security advice they issued. 

“We would also like to meet with the security agencies that issued that statement and then take a decision with the assurance to Nigerians that the independence of INEC will not be compromised,” Mr. Rotimi Oyekanmi, chief press secretary to the INEC chairman told Vanguard yesterday. 

INEC would make a formal statement today on its stance after the meetings in Abuja. The development followed a joint press statement issued by the police and the DSS in which they called for the postponement of the election due on Saturday, September 10 upon fears of a terrorist attack between September 12 and 13 in some states of the country. 

The Police/DSS advice 

The statement jointly signed by Force Spokesman, DCP Don Awunah and Garba Abdullahi for the DSS read: “The Nigeria Police and Department of State Services, wish to inform the general public that credible intelligence availed the agencies indicate plans by insurgent/extremist elements to attack vulnerable communities and soft targets with high population during the forthcoming Sallah celebrations between 12th and 13th September 2016. Edo State is among the states being earmarked for these planned attacks by the extremist elements. 

“The public would recall that similar threats were issued during the May Labour Day and Democracy Day celebrations as well as the Ed-el-fitr holidays in July 2016. However, the security agencies were able to decisively disrupt and thwart the insurgents’ plan. 

“In the same vein, while election is important, the security agencies cannot allow the peace of the country to be disrupted, and we will continue to remain vigilant and ensure consolidation of the successes gained in the current counter-insurgency fight. 

“It is in regard of these that we are appealing to INEC, which has the legal duty to regulate elections in the country, to consider the need for possible postponement of the date of the election in Edo State in order to enable security agencies deal decisively with the envisaged terrorist threats. 

“While the Police/DSS remain mindful of the inconveniences this request may cause the various political stakeholders, it is our strong resolve that security agencies need not be distracted from ensuring a peaceful and secured Nigeria now and always. 

“Members of the public are, hereby, assured that the security agencies will continue to remain focused and committed and are being enjoined to remain vigilant. The attention of the security agencies should be drawn to any observed unusual movements or actions by groups or individuals in their neighbourhoods. 

Even before the statement distilled, INEC commissioner for publicity, Prince Solomon Soyebi, was quoted by Channels Television as saying that the election would go on. 

The assertion was upon claims of readiness by the security agencies at the stakeholders’ conference in Benin presided over by the INEC chairman, Prof. Yakubu. The police had at that conference claimed to have mobilised 25,000 of its personnel for the election with a directive to counter all threats. 

It’ll postpone PDP’s burial — Oshiomhole 

Responding to the development, Governor Adams Oshiomhole, leader of the APC in Edo State, welcomed the postponement but said that it only postponed the burial of the PDP in the state. 

Declaring that the APC was more than prepared for the poll, the governor, however, called on INEC not to postpone the election for too long to enable the quick burial of the PDP. 

He said: “The APC is ready for the election this Saturday, and that was why we held our mega rally on Tuesday and after that rally, our people across the state became more committed, more dogged and ready for the Saturday election. 

“I am already preparing to go to my village to also mobilize my people as other party leaders are doing; that is to let you know that we are not relaxing despite the fact that we know the PDP is already dead, and our people are just getting ready for the burial. 

“However, security issues are security issues and as regards elections, they are very critical. If on their own they are calling on INEC for postponement, I am sure they must have their reasons because they are experts in it.” 

It’s shocking — PDP 

The National Caretaker Committee, of the PDP in Abuja, however, described the call as shocking, given the presence of President Muhammadu Buhari in Benin the day before the call. 

In a statement, yesterday, the spokesman of the party, Prince Dayo Adeyeye, said the party was “taken aback on this advice coming a day after President Muhammadu Buhari was present at the Mega Rally of his party, the APC in Benin City, which was concluded without any hitch. 

“It is on record that INEC recently conducted a ‘hitch-free’ senatorial by-election in Borno State, which is a high-point of insurgency in the country, but the security agencies saw no reason to call-off the election. It is, therefore, lamentable to hear from these same security agencies that the election cannot be held in a state where in less than 24 hours, the President and all the APC leaders and members had an uninterrupted rally. 

“We are calling on the President to caution the security agencies and direct them to provide full security, and also to desist doing anything that will jeopardize this forthcoming gubernatorial election in Edo State. We are equally counting on INEC not to succumb to this false alarm by acting independently and holding election as scheduled.” 

The Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, on his part, called on President Buhari to ensure that a level playing field was brought to bear in the conduct of the election. 

The state chapter of the PDP in a statement by its Publicity Secretary, Chris Nehikhare, said the action of the APC was borne out of fear of imminent defeat at the poll. 

“The security agencies in their report were talking about planned attacks on densely populated areas during the sallah celebrations on September 12 &13; whereas Edo election is on September 10. 

Chief Orbih in his reaction to the development said it was a ploy by the APC to buy time. He said: “A few days ago, Adams Oshiomhole’s APC sponsored some group of boys to demonstrate to the Government House and the secretariats of the APC and the PDP asking for the postponement of the election because they were preparing for the Mathematics paper in the GCE examinations. 

“Seen that it will not work, they resorted to this other alternative plan that there were security concerns and that the election should be postponed. Having failed in their bid to convince the electorate, they are all out to use available means to buy time.” 

Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State also condemned the call for postponement saying that it was obvious the APC was afraid of losing the election. The governor, who raised the alarm that “democracy is in danger” under the APC government, said; “obviously, within two years of APC government, Nigeria is in both economic and political recession, and this should worry all true lovers of the country.” 

Meanwhile, the Commandant General of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Abdullahi Gana Muhammadu, before the development, had directed the immediate deployment of 10,000 personnel for the election. 

This was contained in a statement issued, yesterday, in Abuja and signed by spokesman of the NSCDC, Emmanuel Okeh.

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