Ballot Box Snatchings, Results Declaration at Gun-points, and Bloated figures: Delta as Case-study

by Eferovo Igho

The National Assembly elections is come and in the main gone. In the main because there are areas where they were postponed and in areas where they held some persons are bound to go to the tribunals to seek redress for many reasons including ballot box snatching, results declaration at gun-points and bloated or magical figures. That would be necessarily so since no matter how glaring these anti-democratic silliness play-out INEC almost has no legal backing to change the ‘results’ once declared by the appropriate INEC personnel. The more reason you have this brazenness anyway, and may continue to have it!

We already have our hands full with many such examples across the nation. But we may here zero in on the Delta case. Each of the three senatorial districts of Delta had one huge swallow of at least one of those unabashed acts in the last senatorial elections. Incidentally, all those acts are led by three former secretaries to the government; all leading figures among the infamous Ibori boys. We take them one after the other.

In Delta Central senatorial district ballot papers and 50 AK-47 rifles were reportedly snatched by thugs loyal to Ovie Omo-Agege; who in an unexplainable desperation wants to be the governor of Delta, so at least we are made to believe even though the goal as I wrote in the now widely published piece “Delta’s Stranger-than-Fiction Story of Two Omo-Ageges” is actually for Ibori to undercut the immensely intimidating status and electoral influence of Great Ogboru; and hoping to see Uduaghan gaining by that. It is this Omo-Agege that unsurprisingly tried to pull down the electoral process in Delta Central Senatorial District.

With a key family member at the top hierarchy of INEC Omo-Agege has hitherto been above our electoral laws, which was why he “in a show of dubious desperation was switching and swinging from one political tree branch to the other, like a monkey in a lawless jungle, to contest the rerun and see that he plays the pawn of Ibori in the gubernatorial rerun even when NOTHING qualified him to run then”, to draw from the aforementioned piece. Whether he still remains above the law remains to be seen in this present case of ballot box snatching and other matters attendant.

Then we have the very ugly case of election results declaration at gunpoint in the recent Delta North senatorial districts election. Ifeanyi Okowa is the beneficiary here. Before this ugly truth came to light our dear Gbenga Aruleba of AIT was quick to say that Okowa is a grassroot man. I sighed when I heard that. I wonder what he is saying now that this has come to the fore.

What will INEC do with the certificate of return Okowa is probably issued? Is INEC expecting Ned Nwoko of DPP who I heard the people in Delta North say won the election to go to court? Why did all persons that matter in INEC office in Asaba abscond when Great Ogboru, the leader of DPP in Delta and gubernatorial candidate in the state, went to lay the matter bare to them? Something must be done quickly to amend this aspect of the electoral law that clips the wings of INEC once a so-called returning officer declares results. Except this is done I see many results being declared at gun-points from now especially non-presidential elections where contestants with personal stakes are face to face with returning officers at the local or lower levels.

It is instructive to note that gun brandishing and shot-outs is not new with PDP in Delta. It is the in-thing, and was present in their last senatorial primaries in Delta Central and Delta North. Those primaries ended in fiasco. But there was no law that brought anyone to question. In a piece I ended up not sending for publication for unexplainable reason I wrote then that “election has never been in their blood. It is not still in their blood. And it will take a long, long and very long time to be.” I wrote that then attempting to counter Ifeanyi Okowa who said then that the gunshots, crudity and display of less than human character that trails the said primaries in his senatorial district were not in their character. More jottings questioned that: “What else is in their character? What has really not been in their character is election. And the pretentious attempt at it in those primaries because of Jonathan’s position brought out the real man. Which former state governor in the whole world is making very disgraceful news today for debris he and his boys (including the Okowas) created in Delta, for our treasuries he and his myrmidons (including the Okowas) depleted continually without restraints. What was the underlining reason for the commotion at Asaba during the PDP senatorial primaries and the reason why Delta Central PDP is still empting democracy of meaning?” It is this same Okowa that is in the ugly news today! We know what is in their character.

We are left now with Delta South Senatorial District. Bloated elections result figure is the rule here. It is the quirk and foible that Emmanuel Uduaghan is made that section of Delta State. Having heavily rigged the last governorship rerun in the state with imported figures there was a grand style follow-up in the last registration exercise. This was attempt to justify the gubernatorial rerun figures thrown up there with future elections of which this last senatorial election is one and the next governorship election another. When the registration exercise was on many drew attention to the sweeping cases of registration of minors and non-indigenes imported from other places on a fee, but no one at INEC acted.

So, the stage was firmed up and made fully set to drive any figure at us; the last senatorial and especially the Warri federal constituency results being just the beginning. The PDP candidate in the Warri Federal constituency is said to have scored 120,000 votes (not from a senatorial district but) from a federal constituency in the remotest, most inaccessible and most sparsely populated part of the state.

While we hope that Omo-Agege will be brought to book this time around and the purported election of Okowa nullified, we also hope that come the gubernatorial election in the state all federal government officials and civil society groups kin at free, fair and credible elections will stretch their tentacles and dragnets to the riverine part of the state, especially the Warri North and Warri South West Local Government Areas, their remoteness not being a reason to leave them to unrestrained rigging. And we also hope such federal officials and civil society groups must be all eyes in Warri South Local Government Area which is 90 percent Ogboru’s any day: WITHOUT RIGGING.

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