From Tony Osauzo, Benin
Disagreement between the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday prevented planned inspection of ballot papers used for the conduct of the September 28 governorship election in Edo State.
The three-man tribunal panel headed by Justice A. T. Badamasi had earlier granted a motion ex-parte to both the APC and the PDP to inspect all the materials used by INEC in the conduct of the election.
But at the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)’s office in Benin, where the inspection was to commence yesterday, APC representatives kicked against it, saying it has filed a suit at the tribunal stopping the inspection because the tribunal was wrongly informed before it granted the earlier prayers of the PDP.
It said the motion ex-parte granted was at a variance with what was pleaded in paragraph 753 of the petition filed by Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu and the PDP, which stated that the ballot papers would be counted in open court.
“Your petitioners will before or at the trial of this petition apply and pray this honourable tribunal for an order or direction that the ballot papers used and votes cast in each or some of the polling units for the governorship election be produced in court by the first respondent and recounted in open court and the figures obtained admitted in evidence,” part of the petition reads.”
A counsel to the APC, who did not want his name mentioned said they walked out of INEC secretariat because the PDP insisted on going ahead with the inspection and scanning of ballot papers.
Chairman of the APC, Anselm Ojezua, said the APC did not stop inspection of ballot papers but scanning of the ballot papers was not part of what was granted the PDP by the tribunal.
“They (PDP) have been inspecting. But when they say that they want scan ballot papers and there was nothing in their petition to suggest, of course, we will object.
“When you want to inspect, it is one thing. When you say you want to scan, your intention must be to further your case.
But I do not see how that will help their case because they have been talking about over-voting.
“What they said they wanted in their petition is that the ballot papers to be brought to the tribunal. So, there is nothing to be done at INEC; we do not want them to tamper with those materials,” Ojezua said.
Counsel to the PDP, Prof.Edoba Omoregie, told jnewsmen that the tribunal was yet to hear the suit filed by the APC and that it cannot alter the process both parties earlier agreed upon.
Group condemns plan to remove Oyegun as APC chairman
From Tony Osauzo, Benin
The alleged plot by a section of the national leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to remove Chief John Odigie-Oyegun as the national chairman has been described as satanic, undemocratic and potentially capable of causing greater mayhem to the unity and strength of the ruling party.
National Coordinator, Coalition for Edo Integrity, Elder Nathaniel Egbeobauwaye, stated this in Benin City.
According to him, those pressurising Chief Oyegun to resign as the APC national chairman were unmindful of the deeper crisis into which their ill-conceived motive would land the party.
He cautioned such prime movers of the ‘satanic moves’ to borrow a leaf from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which is battling for survival because of improper, selfish and undemocratic processes engineered by some of its leaders who wanted to effect leadership changes in the former ruling party.
“Those lobbying people to chorus anti-Oyegun slogans to pressure him to resign as national chairman should read carefully the party’s constitution on the removal and resignation of a national officer of that calibre.
“They should have known by now that the party’s national chairman cannot be harassed or blackmailed to resign or removed from office, except by the pronouncement or resolution of the party convention or emergency National Executive Council meeting of the party,” he said.
This is an exact replay of what happened to former president Goodluck Jonathan when some PDP national leaders opted for the removal of Alhaji Bamaga Tukur as national chairman. So, President Muhammadu Buhari must deal cautiously with this untoward agitation for Oyegun’s removal,” Egbeobauwaye said.
Describing the agitators as fifth columnists, who were strategising against the president ahead of 2019 elections, Egbeobauwaye observed that as issues stood at the APC national leadership, there were no major, life-threatening crises ravaging the party that would have warranted a hurried rethinking or suggestion that the national chairman should resign.
He, therefore, cautioned the chief campaigners of the anti-Oyegun moves to save the party from degenerating into avoidable legal mess, like the intractable one threatening the unity and cohesion of the PDP at the moment.
The national coordinator condemned the excesses of the APC deputy National Publicity Secretary, Timi Frank, for allegedly being used and prompted by some national leaders of the party to haul insults on Chief Oyegun, treating him with disrespect and insubordination, insisting that such ugly developments, instigated for ulterior motives, were capable of destabilising the party beyond the dubious imaginations of perpetrators.
On the wild rumour that the out-going Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole, was being touted as a replacement for Oyegun as national chairman of the APC, Egbeobauwaye said if the national leaders of the party were looking for ways of settling Oshiomhole or engaging him in the government at the federal level, “they should not divest our own Edo South senatorial district, of its rightful, legally-earned position for someone who is just quitting an eight-year plum job and is strongly in dire need of a vacation.”
He pointed out that considering Oshiomhole for any position should not be by gate-crashing him into anywhere, adding, “Edo North senatorial district where he is from, already has a plethora of representatives at the national level in terms of the party administration, especially in the National Assembly, where the district has a senator and two legislators who are principal officers propped up by the party. As it stands with the arrangement, Edo South senatorial district has just two positions: national chairman and a minister of state. And that number should not be depleted.”