From Tony Osauzo, Benin

The Edo State chapters of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), yesterday, engaged in war of words over alleged attack and shooting incident at Idia College Centre for the ongoing Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise in Benin City.

The Commissioner for Communication and Orientation, Chris Nehikhare, had in a statement said the attention of the Edo State Government had been drawn to deliberate attempts by the APC to stir violence and cause crisis in the state, in a desperate move to halt the ongoing Continuous Voters Registration (CVR) by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

“The state government strongly condemns the recent attack and shooting at Idia College a couple of days ago, which led to the injury of an innocent student.

“To say the least, this is most troubling, disheartening, and shameful, and is never a way to play the opposition role expected of a responsible opposition party.

“It is utterly appalling that a political party would resort to attacking a CVR centre to obstruct eligible voters from registering to participate in an election that they are contesting. One is left to wonder how the APC plans to get the electorate to vote for their candidate. We say no to such shenanigans and resort to violence by the APC and their agents and call on security agencies to rein in these agents of violence.

“We thank God there was no loss of life from the reprehensible act, and we are, therefore, warning the APC to desist from this dishonourable conduct and embrace democratic norms.

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“If the APC really has a candidate to sell and believes in the viability and credibility of their candidate, they should get more people to register, and also campaign to convince the people to vote for him, instead of resorting to attacking Edo people and disrupting the peace in the state.

“We urge all Edo people not to be discouraged by the desperate antics of the APC and their agents, but leverage on the opportunity of the CVR exercise to register for their Permanent Voters Cards (PCVs), and participate in the September 21 gubernatorial election with a determination to collectively work towards a free, fair, and violence-free electoral process,” the statement said.

But, in a swift reaction, the APC in a statement signed by its assistant state publicity secretary, Ofure Osehobo, described the PDP’s allegation as fabricated and fraudulent, and tasked the party to explain where its governorship candidate, Asue Ighodalo, got the voter card he used on INEC nomination forms since he just registered as a voter this week.

“Our attention has been drawn to a comedy script by Mr. Chris Nehikhare, the publicity secretary of the PDP, and the outgoing Commissioner for Information. We expected him and the PDP to be more serious and help explain how their governorship candidate, Asue Ighodalo, came about the voter’s card he submitted on his INEC nomination forms, considering that he only registered as a voter this week. Nehikhare’s allegations of a recent attack and shooting at Idia College, and his vague reference to the incident as taking place a couple of days ago without specifying a date, are not only fabricated, but also fraudulent.

“Officials, who are monitoring the Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise have reported no such incident. If there was any incident, why did Chris Nehikhare fail to mention the exact date, instead of loosely referring to his phantom “recent attack and shooting at Idia College a couple of days ago?”

“Edo State residents are disillusioned with the outgoing administration, particularly after the recent devastating floods in Benin City. The sooner Nehikhare and the PDP realise that Edo people are not ready to accommodate them further in the state, especially after several of their relatives have been swept away by floods, the better for them.”

“The APC is committed to providing a people-oriented government focused on reuniting, healing, and developing Edo State. With the team of Senator Monday Okpebholo as governor and Dennis Idahosa as running mate, a new Edo is rising to sweep away the vestiges of the outgoing PDP government,” the party said.

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