Tony Osauzo, Benin
The volleys of accusations and counter-accusations between rival political parties the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) ahead of the Edo State governorship election, continued on Monday with the APC Media Campaign Council for the election accusing the PDP of colluding with a retired senior Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) staff, Mr Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi, to rig the September 19 election.
The APC Media Campaign Council made the claims in a statement issued by its State Chairman, Mr John Mayaki.
‘Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi, who recently quietly retired as INEC’s Director of Voter Education, is a first-cousin to Governor Godwin Obaseki and has been identified in a plot to trade-sensitive inside information on the results collation process of the electoral body with the PDP in exchange for unnamed benefits,’ the statement reads.
It alleged that Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi had initially refused to bow out of INEC despite the expiration of his tenure at the electoral commission, but was forced out following disclosure of his strong ties with the Edo Governor and his alleged secret plot to stay put at the commission to gain access to sensitive information on the Edo election.
The APC further alleged in the statement that:
‘As an upgrade to the server scam that failed the PDP in the 2019 General Election because it ignorantly went with the fraud without insight on the result collation process of INEC, the party of tax-collectors, having lost all hopes of winning the Edo election in a fair contest, are concluding plans on another rigging strategy with the recent secret conscription of one Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi.
‘Mr Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi, Obaseki’s first-cousin who served for many years at INEC and had to be forced out of the Commission despite his stalling tactics to stay put until the conclusion of the election which he had planned to manipulate by offering sensitive inside information to his cousin, has now fully joined the Obaseki campaign, though secretly as a private consultant.
‘His mandate, and those of others assigned to serve as his aides in the secret location where he has been lodged, is to develop strategies and tactics for the party on how to substitute results obtained at the polls with fake, pre-written ballots and a corresponding reflection of the electoral fraud in any electronic transfer, using his experience at the Commission.
‘We have been reliably told by numerous sources at the Commission of Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi’s strange enthusiasm and stubborn insistence to be a part of every meeting held at INEC, even sensitive ones outside the remit of his former position as Voter Education Director before an internal disquiet at the Commission left him with no other choice but to tender his resignation.’
The party called on the electoral commission to strengthen its infrastructure for the election against potential saboteurs, while also calling on the PDP to accept defeat in good faith should they lose the election.
Reacting to the allegations in the statement, the State Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Chris Nehikhare, remarked:
‘Are guber elections APC primaries where one man writes results? Is the Edo government house now INEC office? How on earth can a state government that has no control over INEC, police, DSS, NSCDC or military influence election results? This is laughable, to say the least.
‘We are, however, not surprised by the allegation because such was the practice when Adams Oshiomhole held sway as governor.
‘Edo people can still recollect how that same government through EDSIEC announced election results when collation was still ongoing.
‘Indeed Edo people and Nigerians know the party that is plotting to rig the election. They watch the video of Adams Oshiomhole talking about arresting some people.
‘The PDP also raised an alarm over the redeployment of a compromised NSCDC commandant to Edo State for the purpose of the election. We shall continue to expose their evil plots as time goes on.’