Governors and other very important personalities (VIPs) who have converged on Benin ahead of today’s governorship election in Edo State will not be allowed the luxury of moving about during voting.
It is part of the measures put in place by the security agencies to prevent manipulation of the voting process.
The move, however, appears not to have gone down well with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which accused security agencies of harassing and threatening the lives of its governors who had gathered in Benin ahead of the poll.
The verbal war between the PDP and the All Progressives Congress (APC) over the election also heightened with the PDP claiming that the immediate past national chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, was trying to instigate the arrest of Deputy Governor Philip Shaibu.
Oshiomhole denied the allegation.
Although the National Chairman of the PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, did not specify the number of the party’s governors so harassed or their names, the chairman of the party in Rivers State, Akawor Desmond, was categorical that 300 policemen laid siege to the hotel where Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State lodged in Benin.
Secondus, at a press conference in Abuja, an alleged clampdown on PDP governors by security agents in Benin ahead of the elections.
The party expressed shock that ‘security agents were detailed to surround the lodging of our governors to harass and intimidate them.”
It wondered why APC governors, “including the governor of Kano State, Abdullahi Ganduje; his Imo State counterpart, Hope Uzodima as well as the Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, are left free in the comfort of the GRA, Benin residence of Comrade Oshiomhole.
The PDP said it considered “the siege as provocative and completely unacceptable, as there cannot be two sets of laws for the citizens of our nation.”
It added: “Inasmuch as the APC governors are given liberty to stay in Benin City, our governors will not allow themselves to be harassed or stampeded to leave the state.
“At any rate, we are confident that our governors will not allow themselves to be stampeded.”
Policemen lay siege to Wike’s lodge in Benin, Rivers PDP chair alleges
In a separate statement, Rivers State PDP Chairman, Akawor Desmond, alleged that more than 300 policemen on Friday night stormed Wike’s hotel in Benin with a view to forcing him out of town.
He said the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, would be held responsible should anything happen to the governor.
His words: “The attention of the entire people of Rivers State has been drawn to the siege laid to the hotel where the Governor of Rivers State Nyesom Wike is lodging while on official assignment in Benin, Edo State.
“Recall that Governor Wike was appointed Chairman of the PDP National Campaign Council for the Edo governorship election. This is the same position Governor Ganduje of Kano State occupies for his party, the APC.
“Governor Ganduje and Governor Hope Uzodinma of Imo State are all in Benin, Edo State carrying out their assignment for the APC without any molestation or intimidation.
“And in a breach of the pledge they made, security agencies have decided to harass and intimidate Governor Wike who has not done any wrong.
“May I on behalf of the entire Rivers people warn that we shall hold the IGP responsible for anything that happens to our governor.”
Rivers State Information Commissioner Paulinus Nsirim said the people of Rivers State feared for the life of the governor in Benin City.
He said: “Rivers State Government rejects the siege on the hotel of Governor Nyesom Wike in Benin City. We are in a democracy. So, he should not be intimidated in view of the fact that he is the Chairman of the National Campaign Council of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for Edo State’s September 19 governorship election.
“We are afraid for the life of Governor Wike, a very harmless citizen of Nigeria. Rivers people will not keep quiet. So, no harm must befall Governor Wike, who is a loyal and committed leader of PDP.”
Police sources said the siege was not meant to force Wike out of Edo State but to quarantine him since movement restriction would commence at 11:59 pm.
They claimed that operatives were also deployed to pin down other political gladiators to prevent them from moving around during voting hours.
Neither DIG Oyebade nor the Commissioner of Police (Election) Garba Umar could be reached on the phone for a reaction.
Also, Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Edo State Command, Chidi Nwabuzor, did not pick several calls made to his mobile phones at the time of this report.
Wike, at a meeting with PDP leaders in Edo State on Thursday, had warned them to put everything into today’s election because “God forbid that APC wins. If they do, all of you here would have failed because your political life will be in jeopardy.”