From Paul Osuyi, Asaba

A chieftain of the All Progressive Congress (APC) is Isoko North Local Government Area of Delta State, Goodness Agbi on Saturday accused the People Democratic Party (PDP) of deliberately manipulating the smart card reader during the bye-election to fill the vacant seat at the state House of Assembly.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) conducted the bye-election as a result of the death of the former representing Isoko North Constituency and Majority Leader of the House, Tim Owhefere of the PDP.

Agbi said the initial mal-functioning of the card readers in some pulling units was the handwork of the ruling party in the state, alleging that the cards “were deliberately made not to work to give the PDP leverage to thumbprint ballot papers.”

Alleging that there was massive thumbprinting of ballot papers in the various units by the PDP, Agbi said: “In Ozoro ward 02, they tore the clothes of one of our agents and it was the deliberate plan of the PDP to thumbprint.”

But Senior Special Assistant to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa and PDP chieftain in the area, Nelson Egware described the allegations as part of the usual lies of the opposition party.

“Is PDP INEC? What is the fault of PDP? If card readers are not working, should PDP be blamed?

“When someone is falling, they usually look for something to hold on to. Those accusations are mere last kicks of a dying horse.

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“In my unit, card readers worked and people voted. There was nothing like thumbprinting of ballot papers here and l believe that it is the same thing across the wards in the constituency,” Egware said.

Addressing newsmen shortly after casting his vote in his Otibio unit 3, Chairman of the PDP in the locality, Godwin Ogorugba expressed satisfaction with the large turnout of voters for the exercise.

“I can assure you that PDP will win. This is a predominantly PDP area and the party candidate is well accepted. PDP has never lost any election in Isoko North.

“The performance of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa has really energized the people to vote for PDP. The achievements of the governor speaks volumes,” Ogorugba said.

On his part, the PDP candidate in the bye-election, Jude Ogbimi, who voted in Otibio unit 2, said he was impressed with the peaceful conduct of the election.

“My party, the PDP, is a great party. Delta State is PDP. “By the grace of God, l will win the election.”

In areas monitored, the election was generally peaceful, with accreditation and voting commencing at about 8.30am.