Victorious Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate in Delta state, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, is set to be sworn-in on Monday, January 10, 2011, if all goes according to plan, after securing a landslide victory in the just concluded Delta state re-run election.
Uduaghan, who won in 14 Local Goverment Areas out of the 25 in the state, also put clear daylight between him and his closest opponet, Chief Great Ogboru of the Democratic Peoples Party (DPP) with over 130, 000 (One hundred and thirty thousand) votes in the overall votes cast at the elections.
However, in an anticipated twist to to the unfolding tale of the re-run poll, the defeated DPP Candidate, Chief Great Ogboru has concluded plans to appear in Court on the same Monday of the swearing-in to pursue his dissatisfaction with the results of the election.
Chief Ogboru is expected to challenge both the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC and the Peoples Democratic Party PDP as well as join all necessary parties in the suit.
FLASHPOINT can confirm also that the security agencies are leaving no stone unturned to ensure that there is no break down of law and order and a breach of peace in the state capital as Deltans await the fallout of the Delta re-run election.
Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan’s triumph is coming three months after the Court of Appeal nullified the 2007 governorship election which he won and had been operating on the mandate for over three years.
Declaring Uduaghan winner, the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Dr. Ogbudu Gabriel Ada, affirmed that the former Governor had met the stipulated requirement according to the guidelines of the election and thus it was only appropriate to declare him winner.
The REC also praised the efforts of the Commission and gave INEC a pass mark for a good job in the conduct of the election, adding that the Commission would investigate and prosecute the bombing of INEC office in Ughelli and would improve on its mistakes in subsequent elections, while encouraging those who are not satisfied with the result to seek alternative means to seek redress rather than employing the option of violence.
But in a swift reaction to the declaration of Uduaghan as winner, supporters of the Democratic Peoples Party (DPP) had besieged the INEC headquarters in Asaba, Delta State, even before the final results had been announced, to protest alleged irregularities and security lapses that marred and attended the re-run election.
The protesters, led by Chief Great Ogboru himself, alleged that despite the fact that DPP agents reported incidences of violence and ballot snatching as well as ballot stuffing to INEC, it still went ahead to admit the results from volatile areas, which led them to conclude that there was a clear allegation of collusion between INEC and the PDP tp rig the election in favour of the ruling party.
Chief Ogboru protested at what he referred to as “sharp practices” and said that the results collated by the INEC were doctored and fraudulent. He also had harsh words for the security agencies, especially the police.
Hear him: “The results were concocted. Election did not take place in the three Warri Local Government Areas, including Ethiope West. The shooting and violence in Warri South-West, where officials who were supposed to accompany the materials to the riverine areas were chased away by thugs was reported to the commission and the security.”
Speaking further he said: “Tthugs hijacked the materials in Koko axis, Warri South, where Uduaghan hails from, Warri North, Warri South-West, and riverine areas, like Bomadi, Burutu and Patani and they displayed ‘open brigandage’ in the process”.
As for the security agents he had this to say: “This is an election where police find civilians carrying guns and they watch without intervention, to give room for massive rigging.”
Ogboru further expressed surprise that the riverine communities that were recently sacked by militant/military activities and led to mass exodus of their inhabitants in the wake of the search for a militant leader just days to the elections, could now be seen to have recorded the highest votes in the election.
Said he: “Our position is this; we reject the result compiled and collated by INEC. The valid votes cast in the election (re-run) are in favour of the DPP. PDP has colluded with INEC and brought in invalid votes to upturn the authentic results of the election. We call for the investigations into the abracadabra that characterized its compilation and collation.”
He then demanded that forensic experts be brought in to analyse the results and pass verdict on them, saying: “The winner should not be pronounced until the forensic result is out.”
It will be recalled that these same demands concerning the same particular areas were the main reason for the nullification of the 2007 governorship elections by the Court of Appael, which led to this re-run
The arrival of the protesters at the INEC Headquarters heightened the already highly militarized atmosphere around the INEC office and led the security agencies to deploy hundreds of policemen, including men of the anti-bomb squad, anti-terrorist squad (ATS) and Joint Task Force (JTF) to the scene and the subsequent dispersal of a small crowd of remaining protesters with some cannisters of tear gas after Chief Ogboru had departed with the bulk of the protesters to his Party’s headquaters. Commuters and ordinary citizens who were in the vicinity had to endure the harsh and uncomfortable sensation of the tear gas for several minutes as the peppery wind brought tears to the eyes and inhibited breathing for a while.
In his own reaction, the Candidate for the Republican Party of Nigeria (RPN) Obarisi Ovie Omo-Agege, commended all voters and Delta people, who voted, saying that their action demonstrated their hunger for a free and fair election to elect a governor of their choice.
Although his comments, which were contained in a signed statement issued immediately after the polls, did not go as far as those of the DPP to outrightly condemm the election, he however made veiled insinuations on his dissatisfaction with the result of the polls thus: “Victory did not come our way, but my party, the Republican Party of Nigeria and I wish to thank my numerous supporters who encouraged us with their presence during our campaigns throughout the state. In magnanimity I concede defeat, I wonder, as I know you wonder, whether the results reflect the quantum of support, which you gave to us. Does the result of this election reflect the choices you made at the polls?
“A number of things went wrong. The security situation did not discourage armed gangs from snatching election materials in the presence of police and helpless youth corps members, who were either too frightened or compromised to complain. Unused ballot papers were brazenly sold or misallocated to PDP agent with connivance of the police and security operatives.
“This election has shown that Prof. Attahiru Jega, that good tree attested to by everybody as reliable certainly did not make the desired electoral forest to meet the desire of Deltans who craved for a change and a chance to change their oppressive government. It is up to us the political leaders who are not in government to work out a meaningful strategy to give expression to the desire of our people to make the change.”
Speaking further Chief Omo-Agege said: “We must give leadership and make sure that the atmosphere of voting is made safer and the votes recorded must reflect the will of the people.”
Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan while speaking on his victory, in a preliminary interview, said that he felt “cool, excited, happy and grateful to God because he has made it possible and because it has been a tortuous journey.”
He was statesmanlike in his response that he would not question the reason or decision which has prompted Chief Great Ogboru’s refusal to accept the result, but advised that he should go about his disenchantment in a lawful manner and not incite people.
Dr. Uduaghan further said that it was erroneous to claim that Chief Ogboru’s supporters were disenfranchisedespecially in Warri North becuase that was his (Uduagha’s ) constituency and he voted there and also monitored the voting exercise, which according to him was free and fair. He however confirmed that inspite of the huge presence of the police around, there were problems at some polling stations, adding that in certain areas, thugs came and chased away those ready to vote, snatched ballot boxes, in a particular ward people did not vote
He then advised INEC and the security agencies to work out proper security measure in future, but was quick to add that in his personal opinion on the elections, the process was commendable and that the lessons learnt from the exercise will make April polls better, especially in the areas of accreditation before election an the need for more voters’ education.
“I thank Deltans for coming out to vote; there was greater awareness. I also want to say there is no victor and no vanquished. Delta belongs to all of us. Yes people had frail nerves but we should put our personal differences aside, think of the state and think how we can make our state better.”