Confusion, violence trail PDP bye-election primary in Cross River North
• Two aspirants claim victory
Confusion and violence trailed the recent Cross River North Senatorial primary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) held on September 5, as two aspirants are claiming victory. Now all the dramatis personae in the primary are in Abuja to state their positions.
The PDP primary was violent. Two persons were killed on the eve of the primary in Ogoja while two others were shot on the day of the event opposite the Ogoja council headquarters, venue of the primary. Four vehicles and police pick up truck in the governor’s convoy were smashed by some unknown youths suspected to be supporters and delegates of Ogoja/Yala member of the House of Representatives, Mr. Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe, one of the aspirants in the primary.
Journalists were heavily teargased and the Editor of Watchman magazine, Mr. Lawrence Mpama, almost lost consciousness; he had difficulty breathing for about five minutes, but the rain suddenly came down at that moment to revive the suffocating journalists and some members of the public. No less than 200 policemen flooded the venue and opened fire and teargas on everyone to allow mercenary voters, said to be for Dr. Stephen Odey, enter the venue at the expense of the duly accredited voters that would possibly have voted for Jarigbe.
In PDP’s tension-soaked primary, the former Chairman of the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), Odey emerged winner of PDP Cross River North Senatorial bye-election held at Ogoja council secretariat and witnessed by INEC officials. He polled 450 votes while his closest rival Jarigbe garnered 90 votes.
The chairman of the electoral panel, Mr. Olorogun Taleb Tebite, declared Odey the winner having scored the highest number of votes. He spoke to newsmen after the result was announced and described the process as “peaceful and orderly.”
One of INEC’s officials, who observed the event, Mr. Amula Timotheus, also expressed satisfaction with the exercise, saying it was conducted in line with INEC’s guidelines and was therefore satisfactory.
Governor Ben Ayade, who witnessed the entire exercise, expressed satisfaction with the conduct of the delegates’ primary and commended INEC for playing its observatory role adequately, stating that “the election was a family affair as all the candidates are members of the PDP family in the state,” and gave assurance that the party would work together to win the general election.
Already, 21 opposition political parties in the state under the umbrella of the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP) and a member of the House of Representatives, Mr. Legor Idagbo, have congratulated Odey on his victory. In a letter signed by Sunday Michael and Castro Ezema, state Chairman and Publicity Secretary of CNPP respectively, and addressed to Odey, they said, “We congratulate you on your emergence as the Northern Senatorial candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Cross River state.
“The decision of the delegates to elect you as the PDP candidate from among other distinguished aspirants is a testimony of how far and wide you consulted. Further to this, choosing a Yala son in compliance with the directive of CNPP to all political parties demonstrates the commitment of your party in bringing balance, equity, fairness, and justice.”
On his part, Idagbo said he was convinced that Odey, would represent the people of the northern senatorial district effectively in the red chamber when elected and commended Governor Ayade for the “peaceful and transparent exercise” stating that Odey’s emergence as a candidate was “a reflection of the will of the people through the delegates of the party in the northern senatorial district”.
However, as Odey was celebrating with his supporters, Jarigbe and his supporters were also celebrating. Jarigbe, who rejected reports that Odey won the primary, said, “I am the authentic winner of PDP primary held in Ogoja yesterday (September 5). I thank my people for giving me their votes and for having trust in me as the struggle to liberate our state continues. My election was observed by the INEC monitoring team from Abuja, led by Mr. Modibbo Belel, at Ogoja local government, with a list of authentic delegates as declared by the court.
“Let me also restate that it was supervised by members of PDP Electoral Panel, including Ibiok Esu and Kenneth Zota. I urge all my people in the northern senatorial district to remain calm and work extra hard for our eventual emergence at the October 31, 2020 bye-election. We plead with all to remain steadfast”.
Esu and Zota, who were said to have declared the result, scored Jarigbe 381 votes to beat Odey, who scored 71 votes. Two other aspirants in the primary, Mrs. Mary Iji, and Dr. Marthina Odo, threw their support behind Jarigbe and described Odey’s emergence as a shame and charade.
While speaking with journalists in Ogoja on Sunday, they said it was a shame for the stakeholders not to obey the court order by using the authentic delegates’ list, adding that the entire process was a sham as it was mostly marred by violence. Iji decried the process that produced Odey, saying the real delegates were not allowed to exercise their franchise, as they were barred by armed security men.
She said, “What happened was very despicable and uncalled for and I cannot believe that an ordinary primary election could degenerate into bloodletting and maiming of party men and women. With what happened I did not even get one vote. Does it mean that out of the delegates, no one voted for me? I find it hard to believe because a lot of the authentic delegates never had access to the venue. The process that purportedly produced Odey was a charade.”
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