- As INEC declares APC candidate the winner with 39876 votes
From Osemwengie Ben Ogbemudia, Benin City
Complaints of low turnout and malfunctioned card reader trailed the bye election fixed by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the Etsako federal constituency in Edo state.
The peaceful and violent free exercise which was held in the three local government councils that make up the federal constituency started as early as 8am with accreditation and subsequent voting by voters.
Some of the areas visited from 8am to 11:45am showed that there was low turnout of voters as INEC officials who arrived early in the morning were seen waiting for voters before they could begin accreditation exercise at some of the polling units and voting centers.
There were no reports of violence nor electoral malpractice in most of the areas visited as soldiers, anti riot policemen, officials of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corp (NSCDC) were deployed to strategic locations to ensure adequate security of lives and property.
Although, there was reports of alleged ‘black market’ court injunction which rumour had late Friday night till yesterday morning spread like wild fire amongst members of the ruling APC that the party’s candidate, Mr. Johnson Oghuma had been substituted with another ‘non identified’ candidate.
The ugly development which was dismissed by the party leaders in the area as lies also caused voters apathy during the exercise even as some residents, especially, shunned the process
Some of the APC and PDP leaders and voters who spoke with newsmen described the exercise as peaceful and an improvement in previous elections even as they commended INEC officials and security operatives for their efforts at making the process more successful.
At Ward 2, units one to six, Obe Primary School, Fugar in Etsako CentrL council are the APC candidate Mr. Johnson Oghuma voted at about 8:15 am while the PDP candidate, Mr. Jude Imagwe cast his vote at about 10:57am at Ward one, unit 9 plocated at Osime Primary School, Agenebode in Etsako East council area of the state respectively.
Speaking on the exercise, the PDP candidate, Jude Imagwe described process as peaceful and an exercise of civic responsibility but decried the low turnout of voters which he attributed to lack of proper awareness and sensitization by the INEC.
The State Deputy Governor Philip Shaibu who voted at Azama primary school said he was impressed by the turnout of voters and that the process was peaceful due to effective security measures adopted by all the security agencies.
He commended the state commissioner of police, Mr. Haliru Gwandu and heads of other security outfits for going round the area to monitor the outcome of the exercise,
While speaking on the purported court injunction, Shaibu said INEC as we know respect civil order so if there is anything like injunction there would have been no election.
Former member of the House of Representatives for Etsako constituency Mr. Abbass Braimah noted that the turnout was low because it was a bye election but thanked INEC officials for coming out early to carry out the exercise even as he commended security agencies for the peaceful conduct.
On his part, Comrade John Akhigbe and Damian Lawani said the process was a walkover for the ruling party and expressed appreciation to members of the APC for turning out to vote for the party’s candidate.
The APC candidate Mr Oghuma was declared the winner with 39,876 votes, while the PDP candidate came second with 18,193 other parties participated in the election.