Tony Osauzo, Benin
Violence, shooting and an absence of electoral officials marred the ward congresses of the Edo State chapter of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Saturday in some areas of the 192 wards of the state.
A former lawmaker in the Edo State House of Assembly, Hon Sylvanus Erauga, was reportedly beaten to a pulp at his Afashio community during the conduct of the congress.
Pictures that went viral online showed Hon Erauga lying on the ground and surrounded by some boys.
At Ward Six, in Oredo Local Government Area, gunmen shot to scare PDP members away after a disagreement over a list of consensus ward executives.
Trouble started when some leaders produced a list saying the leaders had agreed the previous night but opponents to the list insisted on electing the executive.
In Ward Seven, PDP members waited till 2 pm but did NOT see electoral officials and had to disperse at about 3 pm.
One of the aspirants for the state chairmanship position of the party, Engr Fred Okah, said the tension being generated with the absence of electoral officials could lead to violence.
”INEC officials and security personnel were present but the party official to conduct the election did not come. We waited from 9 am till 2 pm we didn’t see officials.
”There were no primaries in Ward Seven. You can see the people have left. We cannot wait till night.
”If we agreed on any list, we will read it out. We didn’t see anybody. The man to preside over the congress did not come,” he said.
Commenting on the exercise, Hon Oladele Bankole-Balogun, described the ward congress as a sham and a mess.
He said there were instructions to conduct parallel congresses in certain areas.
”Crowds will be waiting somewhere but congresses will hold at another venue”, he alleged.
Giving a different account, another chairmanship aspirant, Chief Omi Imosili, said the reports he got showed that the congresses were peaceful.
”The ward congresses are going on fine. I am in Ward Two [at] Igueben and [there are] no issues anywhere”, he said.
In his comment, Senator Matthew Urhoghide, commended PDP members for coming out to elect their executives.
A governorship aspirant who pleaded anonymity said the whole process was a waste and a plot by the outgoing chairman, Chief Dan Orbih, to install his chosen successor.
Chief Orbih, on the other hand, describing the ward congresses as the first step towards taking over governance in the state, said that the congresses were free and fair.