The All Progressive Congress (APC) senatorial candidate, Barrister David Umaru has expressed his disappointment over Saturday’s Niger East senatorial bye-election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as it was marred with all kinds of irregularities during the poll.
Umaru stated this while briefing journalists during a press conference at the APC secretariat in Minna saying he is very optimistic however that he will emerge victorious come next Saturday when a rerun is conducted for the remaining polling units.
He said “you need not to be told of the result of the election which was declared inconclusive by INEC on Sunday. I was quite hopeful initially that the exercise was going to be flawless but unfortunately as the day opened, events turned sour and the elections were marred by various electoral irregularities and other vices.
“This unfortunate incident will not make us relent, neither will it discourage us because the party is fully committed to enthroning true democracy at whatever cost.
“Our resolve and doggedness in the face of all intimidations and manipulations of the ruling party (PDP) during the elections gave us hope that we can, in the face of all odds stand against the agents of oppression.
“I have discussed with the state chairman and he has confirmed that we will defeat them.
He urged the electorates and Nigerlites to remain calm in the face of all forms of provocation, adding that “I assure you that this will not last for too long. We are confident that given the chance, in the coming elections, we shall emerge victorious.”
“I look towards Saturday with optimism not pessimism. I don’t contemplate going to court, but I contemplate someone else going to court. Rather than looking for a scapegoat, I think we all know who the culprit is” Umaru stated.
Meanwhile, nineteen suspected political thugs were arrested last Friday by the Niger state police command, alleged to have been hired from Borgu local government of the state to disrupt last Saturday senatorial bye election declared inconclusive.
Reports revealed that they were arrested in Makwa local government at an army check point on their way to Minna with the motive to disrupt the last week’s bye-election.
Investigation also revealed that the suspects confessed to the police that they were paid the sum of N3,000 each as they were sponsored by political leaders in that council.
Items recovered from them include cutlasses, axes and other dangerous weapons.
The Police Public Relations Officer to Niger state police command, ASP Ibrahim Abiodun Gambari who confirmed the arrest said “yes, our men in Makwa intercepted them through a synergy with the soldiers at a road block, arresting 19 suspects but investigation in to the matter has commenced after which they will be charged to court for prosecution” he said.
In a related development, the APC has released more facts on how their candidate, Barrister David Umaru was rigged to paved way for the ruling People Democratic Party PDP in the last Saturday inconclusive senatorial by-election of Niger east.
The state publicity secretary of the party, Mr Jonathan Vatsa alleged that INEC aided the plan to rig out the APC candidate by giving accreditation cards to some of the mercenaries of the PDP as security agents which made them accessible to polling units to try to induce voters.
He stated that when they discovered that the electorates have resolved to vote for APC even with the inducement they allegedly started snatching ballot boxes to ensure that the result that put David Umaru in outright victory was reversed.
Vatsa noted that the report from the various polling centres revealed that while the exercise was ongoing INEC officials turned blind eyes and allowed the irregularities to go on especially in Paiko, Gurara, Tafa and Suleja local government areas of the constituency.
According to Vatsa “when they could not rig in the township they went to the villages to intimidate our agents as if they were security men and stuff the ballot papers, only to come and say that there will be supplementary election in just few places, what of Gurara, Suleja and Tafa , where there was massive rigging?”
“We are not new to the antics of the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Dr Emmanuel Onucheyo who was always calling for supplementary elections and postponing elections to suit the purpose of the ruling PDP to come back and win. He did the same thing in 2011 that is why we have been calling for his removal” he added
According to him “We are aware of the various moves aimed at going against the wish of the people of not allowing our candidate to emerge victorious as desired by majority of the people but we appealed to our supporters not to relent, they should continue to mobilize themselves ahead of next Saturday for the conclusive election”.
In a quick response through a signed statement by Mr Israel Ayegba Ebije, the Chief Press Secretary to the Niger state Governor yesterday however intimated that so many voters were disenfranchised for frivolous reasons in the exercise.