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Benue youths protest against rerun, want INEC to declare Ortom winner

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[FILE PHOTO] Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom

Hundreds of Benue youths yesterday staged a peaceful protest to Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) headquarters in Makurdi, asking the electoral body to declare Governor Samuel Ortom winner of the March 9, 2019 gubernatorial poll.

This follows a statement by Benue State Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), James Ornguga, that the party was ready for Saturday’s supplementary elections.

Ornguga, however, said the youths’ protest has no place in the country’s electoral guidelines.

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The youths, who carried placards matched through major streets of Makurdi, singing solidarity songs and calling Governor Ortom winner of the March 9 election just as they condemned INEC’s Returning Officer for declaring the exercise inconclusive in Benue.

But addressing journalists at INEC’s office, Leader of Benue Youth Mass Action Alliance (BYMAA), Comrade Fanen Zegeor, said the returning officer was wrong not to have declared Ortom who led with over 81,000 votes winner.

He urged INEC to be an unbiased empire and conduct the supplementary election in a free, fair and credible manner.

While addressing the youths, Benue State Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Dr. Nentawe Yilwatda, cautioned them to be peaceful, so as not to breach the electoral act, such as putting names of political parties on their placards and banners.

He said nobody should tell INEC what to do, insisting that the commission would not do the bidding of anyone, as it was the Benue people that would elect a governor of their choice on Saturday.

Besides, the Inter-Party Advisory Council (IPAC) has urged stakeholders including INEC, political parties, security agencies and electorate to abide by the rules of the electoral process.

State Chairman of IPAC, Godwin Odeh, who made the call yesterday at a media briefing in Makurdi, asserted that it was time for the people to demonstrate patriotism above selfish interests.

According to Odeh, “Benue people must stand together to ensure that their votes count and that democracy succeeds in the state and entire country.

“We reject undue interference in the Democratic process from any quarters. We call on Benue people to come out on Saturday, March 23, to conclude what they started on March 9, 2019.”

Meanwhile, former military Head of State and Chairman, National Peace Committee (NPC), General Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd.) has called for a free, fair and peaceful conduct of the governorship and state House of Assembly rerun elections in Benue and Bauchi states.

Abdulsalami, who made the call at a town hall meeting of NPC in Makurdi, noted that peaceful elections engender development in society.

In Bauchi, Abdulsalami, who was represented by Deputy Director of Kukah Centre, Duke Anoemuah, reinforced the importance of peace and implored actors and their supporters to accept results at all levels of the electoral process.


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