The Peoples Democratic Party and the ruling Action Congress of Nigeria in Edo State have again accused each other of fresh plans to rig the July 14 governorship election in the state.
Addressing a press conference in Benin on Monday, the state PDP Chairman, Chief Dan Orbih, alleged that the ACN had recruited a consultant to the Independent National Electoral Commission to manipulate the exercise.
Orbih said the consultant had since relocated to Benin.
He said, “On the May 20, we were invited to Abuja by the INEC Chairman Prof. Attahiru Jaga for a meeting, where we said we were totally opposed to the use of corps members for the conduct of the election. We came with evidence, video evidence of corps members in Edo going to rallies with Governor Adams Adams Oshiomhole.
“We want to state that we are maintaining our opposition, which we have communicated to him in our letter to INEC, stating that we are totally opposed the use of corps members for the conduct of election.
“We don’t trust them, we don’t believe that they will be good umpires in a contest that they are openly going about with the governor to campaign rallies.
“If this election must be seen as free and fair we are insisting that Jega must not use corps members serving in the state.”
But the Director of Media, Oshiomhole Campaign Organisation, Kassim Afegbua, dismissed the allegations as untrue.
Afegbua said, “I think the position of the PDP or the allegations they have raised are laughable and senseless. In the history of Nigeria, we know that the PDP has a culture and tradition of rigging elections.
“We have seen several of their elections being overturned by tribunals.
“It is not our requirement as political parties to determine for INEC who it should use as ad-hoc staff. Ours is to play by the rules. INEC before now has conducted elections. The Edo election is not the first they will be conducting.
“They have always had a tradition of using corps members as ad-hoc staff and in that respect, the understanding is that because of their training, exposure and maturity, they would be able to understand the dynamics of election to the extent that they will mitigate against rigging. So, to that extent, it is not the requirement of the ACN or the PDP or the Oshiomhole Campaign Organisation; it is the requirement of INEC that they should do it.
“If they are making allegations, let them go a step further to prove the onus of that allegation.”
Meanwhile, INEC National Commissioner, Information and Publicity, Solomon Soyebi, said in Abuja on Monday that the commission was re-assessing its operational strategy to ensure a hitch-free election in the state.
Soyebi told the News Agency of Nigeria that the commission would enforce a high standard of integrity and transparency to make the outcome of the election acceptable to all the stakeholders.
He said, “INEC will spare no efforts to ensure peaceful conduct of the poll; we are going to create a free and fair election.
“We will be totally impartial and unbiased.”