Benue governorship re-run, Akume plans to undermine free and fair polls — Ngbede

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By Titus Atondu, Makurdi

The Chairman Benue State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) Sir John Ngbede has raised alarm about the plans of the defeated Senator representing Benue North West George Akume targeted at undermining  free, fair and peaceful conduct of the fourth coming March 23rd 2019 re-run Governorship election in Benue State.

Ngbede raised the alarm in a press conference on Monday at the party Secretariat in Makurdi

He disclosed that  the utterances and activities of Senator George Akume and other APC leaders in Benue State  have prompted PDP to write a petition to the Inspector General of Police.

According to him, Senator George Akume as the acclaimed Leader of APC in Benue State, has boasted at several meetings he has held with the party  members and stalwarts that the result of the Supplementary Election to be held in the state will be declared in favour of the Governorship Candidate of his party, Emmanuel Jime, whether he wins it or not.

The PDP Chairman further stated that  the Senator  has assured his followers that such brazen rape of democracy will be made possible through collaboration which he claimed APC is collaborating with Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), and that Mobile Police men and other security agents and with the help of thugs as well as militia to hijack election materials for the Supplementary Elections and thumb-printed ballots will then be returned and announced as the results giving victory to Emmanule Jime.

Ngbede also revealed that the Senator had  particularly assured his followers that the National leadership of APC with the backing of the Presidency has already infiltrated INEC and Emmanuel Jime will be announced as Governor of the state without the Supplementary Governorship election holding, and that this will be achieved through already doctored results which will be compiled by INEC Returning Officers and staff who are already being posted to the affected polling units.

He stated that Senator Akume has also boasted to his followers and Benue APC leaders that he has secured the backing of the Presidency which has authorised relevant security agencies, through their heads, to do everything possible to return Emmanuel Jime as Governor of Benue State at the coming Supplementary election.

“As a direct consequence of the actions of Senator George Akume, the leadership of APC in Benue State have taken to airing views boldly in the public domain that the result of the March 23rd Supplementary election will be declared in favour of Emmanuel Jime, regardless of whether Governor Samuel Ortom of the PDP wins by another landslide as he did in the first round of the Governorship election.

Such views of the APC in Benue State have severally been aired on social media platforms, mostly from their media handlers, including the Acting State Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr. James Ornguga, who in one of such posts, had openly boasted that votes should be expected at the Supplementary Elections above those declared cancelled by INEC.” He stressed.

It is instructive to note, sir, that at the Presidential and National Assembly elections held in Benue State on 23rd February, 2019, PDP won the Presidential vote by a margin of over ten thousand votes, and also won all the three (3) Senatorial seats, as well as six (6) out of the nine (9) House of Representatives seats so far declared of the total of eleven (11) in the State, while APC won only one (1) House of Representatives seat.

At the Governorship and State Assembly elections held on 9th March, 2019, Governor Samuel Ortom of the PDP was in a clear lead with 410,576 over his closest rival Emmanuel Jime of the APC who scored 329,022 votes, before INEC declared the election inconclusive and later ordered a supplementary election, the one to be held on March 23. The margin between Governor Ortom and Jime stands at 81,554 votes.

Out of thirty (30) State Assembly seats, PDP won seventeen (17) out of twenty-one (21) so far declared, with the party’s candidates in good standing to win the remaining nine (9) constituencies to be determined at the Supplementary Election.

APC on the other hand won only four (4) State Assembly seats with none of the party’s candidates in any favourable standing to win any more of the seats up for contest on March 23rd.

Furthermore, voters turnout at the the first and second rounds of the 2019 elections so far held in Benue State has been less than 40% of PVCs collected for the elections. As such, it is not conceivable that the entire registered voters in those polling units cancelled will turn out for the Supplementary Election.

APC is therefore not in any position to win the scheduled Supplementary Election of March 23rd and utterances by Senator George Akume and the party’s leaders that Emmnauel Jime will be returned as Governor of Benue State at that election are only capable of breaching the peace and order of the state leading into the day of the election.

Ngbede lamented that the  above issues and undemocratic utterances by Senator Akume and APC leaders in Benue State which clearly constitute a major threat to free and fair elections ought to be urgently addressed. It is in this regard that we call on the Presidency, the Inspector General of Police, the State Security Services, as well as the relevant agencies to use their good offices and act with utmost sense of duty and dispatch to call Senator Akume and other leaders of the APC in Benue State to order in the best interest of peace and security as well as the preservation of democracy.

He added that in taking necessary action on this matter, the Presidency and all those mentioned will be upholding the good name and image of their reputable organizations which Senator Akume, by his unguarded utterances and reckless conduct is on the brink of bringing to disrepute.

Ngbede Insisted that it is imperative to establish here that the Presidency and those heads of security agencies Senator Akume has been dropping their names as working with him and APC to overturn the result of the coming March 23rd Supplementary governorship election in favour of his party need to call him to order to make it clear that they are not into such an unholy alliance with him.

In doing so they will be acting to safeguard the good name and image of the Presidency and their agencies which the Senator by his actions and utterances is set to drag to disrepute.

May we state here that Benue State has had enough of deaths and crisis, as such it should be the desire of all well meaning people in the state to avoid a repeat of crisis at the coming Supplementary Election.

We restate the commitment of the entire leadership and members of PDP in Benue State to hitch-free elections, yet it must noted that while we, in the first and second rounds of elections, maintained peace and did conduct ourselves as such, the APC on the other hand were bent on perpetrating violence.

The result was that hoodlums loyal to APC attacked and killed two PDP members in Gbajimba, Guma local government area, on 23rd March, and on the same day they also attacked and killed three PDP members in Gwer-East. Unfortunately, we have also uncovered plans by the APC to carry out violent attacks on their on members and accuse the PDP of being responsible for such attacks. The people of the state must take note of such sinister plans.

Benue people deserve to be free to elect leaders of their choice and this can only happen in a credible, and fair contest.

We have implicit faith that authorities mentioned above and you as the fourth estate of the realm, will discharge your duties with regard to our concerns raised here with due sense of patriotism and professionalism to ensure that APC or any other political party does not succeed in disenfranchising eligible voters of Benue State during the Supplementary election.

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