The national leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party has said that the Federal Government and the All Progressives Congress are planning to use soldiers to rig the rerun governorship elections slated for March 23 in six states by the Independent National Electoral Commission.
The party said it based its conclusion on what it experienced during the rerun of the governorship election in Osun State, where it alleged that security men barred journalists, observers and voters who wanted to vote for the PDP from gaining access to polling units.
The PDP also accused INEC of working in tandem with the ruling party to deny it victory in states where it claimed the voters trooped out in large numbers to vote for its candidates.
It would be recalled that the commission on Tuesday named states where such rerun elections would hold as Kano, Adamawa, Bauchi, Plateau, Benue and Sokoto States.
But the National Chairman of the PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, who spoke with our correspondent in Abuja on Wednesday, asked Nigerians and the international community to pay attention to what he described as the “antics of the APC and INEC to deny Nigerians the opportunity to freely elect their leaders.”
He said it was strange that the Nigeria Army allowed itself to be used by politicians who, he claimed, were out to dent the image of the security agencies.
He described what happened in Rivers State during last Saturday’s governorship election as pathetic and called on Nigerians to demand the withdrawal of the military from the state.
Secondus said it was because the APC and the Federal Government allegedly relied on guns instead of the people that they had been boasting.
He said, “Nigerians will recall what happened during the rerun of the Osun State governorship election where masked security men from the Department of State Services and policemen took over the polling units and centres.
“Nigerians saw the evil that happened there as the security men barred supporters of the PDP from gaining access to the polling centres. However, both Nigerians and the international community saw how security agents served as aides to members of the APC as they walked freely to the polling centres.
“That is what they are now planning to do on March 23. Some governors of the APC met with President Muhammadu Buhari this week. We know the issues discussed at the secret meeting.
“This was why none of those at the meeting was ready to brief journalists afterwards. They are planning to harrass voters, using the military, especially the army and the DSS, in the affected polling units and thereby take the states by force.
“We will not allow this to happen. We will not surrender the mandates that were freely given to us by Nigerians to the enemies of democracy in the country.
“INEC, the APC and the Federal Government knew that we won in almost all the six states, but because it would be glaring that we were robbed of victory, they are now calling for rerun elections.”
The PDP chairman said it was sad that members of the ruling party were not thinking of the economic and social implications of not allowing free and fair elections in the country.
“Actions of the government and even the damage the military has done to the image of this country in the last few days will take years to rebuild. It is a colossal loss to the nation,” he added.
Efforts made by one of our correspondents to get the reaction of the National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Mallan Lanre Issa-Onilu, were not successful as he neither picked his calls nor replied to a text message sent to him.
– The Punch