“He brought out a Ghana-Must-go bag and started sharing jollof rice and chicken and whatever else he was sharing with it, nobody cautioned.”
Paul Osuyi, Asaba
Incumbent member of the House of Representatives for Aniocha/Oshimili constituency of Delta State, Mrs. Amaechi Mrakpor on Thursday alleged that she was outspent by her rival in Wednesday’s Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) primaries to pick the party candidate for the constituency in the 2019 general election.
The primary was conducted in Asaba amidst heavy shooting midway into the counting of votes, an exercise that was completed at the office of the Commissioner of Police, where her predecessor, Mr. Ndudi Elumelu, was declared winner with 266 votes by the Returning Officer, Uzor Nwadu.
Mrakpor polled 226 votes.
However, Mrakpor not only rejected the outcome of the poll, she accused Elumelu of vote buying with $1,500 each for over 500 delegates, adding that this violated Governor Ifeanyi Okowa’s earlier plea that no aspirant should give more than N100,000 to each delegate for feeding, transport and accommodation.
She further accused Elumelu of inducing delegates with jollof rice and chicken, and also campaigning to the voters while voting was in progress.
“On the night of October 1, some delegates from my local government informed me that Elumelu was given delegates $1,500. I didn’t quite believe it because, before then, the governor had announced that no aspirant should give any delegate more than N100,000 for their accommodation, transport and feeding since they will be coming from rural areas.
“That was the briefing we got and I got ready with N100,000 each. But by night of October 1, I a got phone call that Elumelu was giving out $1,500 or N550,000 and I confirmed it,” she said.
Mrakpor claimed that after Elumelu voted, “he came back and started campaigning to the delegates while voting was going on. After that he brought out a Ghana-Must-go bag and started sharing jollof rice and chicken and whatever else he was sharing with it, nobody cautioned. I was trying to be obedient. He shared about $800,000, and just yesterday morning he went out again to share another dollar for breakfast for the delegates. Nobody stopped him.”
But in a swift reaction, Mr. Elumelu debunked all the allegations made by his opponent, and urged her to accept defeat and join hands with him to deliver all PDP candidates from the House of Assembly seats to the governorship seat in the general election.
“There is absolutely no truth in what she has submitted, I never induced delegates with $1,500 each. Let me clearly state that I was seated from the beginning to the end. I could not have been campaigning or carrying rice to go and serve people,” Elumelu responded to the allegations.
“Even in national convention or zonal convention, they serve people refreshment, that does not mean it is Ndudi Elumelu that served the food and drinks. Let us stop these petty allegations. What is the truth is that the people have made their choice, and we should accept it,” Elumelu said.
Meanwhile, Mrakpor has insisted that there was no primary for the constituency, adding that it was mere argument, and not violence, that ensued during the counting of votes.
She said what happened thereafter at the office of the Commissioner of Police was just drama and allocation of votes.
“What happened was not violence, it was just argument. It was the police that decided to show their bravery by firing live ammunition. We left that place at about 5 p.m. and they suddenly appeared at about 9 p.m. to say that the CP wants to count the votes, and I said the votes must be counted at the field, not at the CP’s office because I don’t know when the CP became the PDP national chairman or the PDP monitoring team. So I left. It was later I heard that they ascribed 266 votes to him,” Mrakpor stated.
Explaining what led to the argument, she said “When they started counting, I was taking note. At a point I counted 230 and they said I scored 226. That was when I stepped down with my markings on my hand, and I walked to them to point out the mistake. But something told me to look underneath the bag where I saw lots of ballot papers which they claimed were void votes. By the time they brought it out, all the ballot papers were mine. They said the voided votes were tagged. I held the votes in my hand, that now demoralized them. They now asked me to go back so that they do the things themselves but I said no because it is my destiny. They said they will not count his (Elumelu’s) votes in my presence.
“If you accredited 481 and you already said I have 226 and now you are saying that he has 266, Onwusanya has 13 and the other man has 01. If you add the other persons’ votes to my 226, and the voided votes, it will be 253. Subtract this from the number of accredited delegates and you will see what he is supposed to get.
“I have been in this for quite some time, if you keep quiet, they will sail through with it. And we will be destroying democracy. We are witnesses to what is happening in Nigeria now.
“I have integrity, and that is why, despite the money that was pulled out from the bank, the people refused to move. If you gave out almost $800,00 for primary election, if you are spending almost $1 million, not the food, not the other breakfast and nobody is blinking an eye about it, and you are voiding my votes, saying that they were titles that were not supposed to be there, I think it is unacceptable,” Mrakpor said.