…To Pursue Pre-Election Cases on Governor, Deputy’s Qualification.
The candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC in the September 19, 2020 governorship election in Edo State, Osagie Ize-Iyamu has resolved not to challenge at the state Election Petition Tribunal, the victory of the declared winner, Godwin Obaseki, incumbent governor and candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. Obaseki was returned re-elected by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC having polled 307,955 votes against Ize-Iyamu’s 223,619 votes. The Pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, RCCG, said he would rather concentrate on the two pre-election cases in court which have to do with the qualification of the governor and his deputy, Philip Shaibu, for the election.
In a personally signed press statement on Monday, Ize-Iyamu, who insisted that the election was far from being free and fair, said he had however chosen the option of not approaching the tribunal in order to avoid further tension in the state. Recall that he had rejected the outcome of the election alleging that it was skewed in favour of his opponent. He however said he was studying the results before deciding on the next line of action.
And declaring his position, Ize-Iyamu catalogued some identified malpractices which robbed him of victory. The full statement read: “You will all recall that the election process to determine who occupies the office of Governor of Edo State for the next 4 years began officially in June this year, with the unveiling of the Election Timetable by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). To the glory of God Almighty, the election held on 19th September, 2020 with the outcome later announced by INEC. We thank God Almighty for the relatively peaceful nature of the voting process in most parts of the state.
“Contrary to orchestrated media reports, the election was neither free nor fair. There were several episodes of violence, voter intimidation and falsification of results. In particular, there were unlawful cancellations of results particularly from Urhonigbe South and North in Orhiomwon, while results were falsified from many polling units in Ofunama in Ovia South West, and in parts of Ovia North East, Owan West, Oredo, Egor, Ikpoba-Okha, Esan North East, Esan West, Esan South East, and Uhunmwode Local Government Areas.
“Sadly, two persons were killed during the election, while gun-wielding thugs took over collation centres in many locations without the intervention of law-enforcement agents. There were also several cases of malfunctioning card readers, which disenfranchised duly registered voters, in addition to many cases of unregistered voters voting with pre-purchased voters’ cards not collected by their actual owners.
“These malpractices could easily form the basis to challenge the election results. We have however decided not to commence an election petition. This is to avoid further tension in the state. We are also mindful that the leadership of our great party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and many well-placed individuals have made pronouncements endorsing the process, which we have chosen to respect.
“Nonetheless, we must emphasize that elections are far more than actual voting, just as democracy includes more than just elections. It is in this light that we draw attention to the fact that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its flag bearers have continued to pursue several pre-election suits in various courts against us, all totaling 13. One of such cases came up in the High Court, Benin on 2nd October, 2020, days after the election.
“On our part, we had filed two pre-election cases against the PDP and its flag bearers challenging their eligibility to contest the election. These are all lawful and integral parts of the electoral process in any democracy, which we must all respect and acknowledge as genuine democrats. The outcome of these pending cases has direct effect on the election. Consequently, we have decided to continue with our pre-election cases in full exercise of our legal rights, just as our opponents have considered it their prerogative to also continue with their pre-election cases against us.
“Let me once again wholeheartedly thank the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, President Mohammadu Buhari GCFR, for his statesmanship and support throughout the election campaign. We thank the National leadership of our party led by HE Mai Mala Buni, Governor of Yobe state, our National Campaign Council led by HE Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, Governor of Kano State, APC Governors, leaders and members of the National Assembly and other leaders of our party at both national and state levels for their immense contributions.
“We also sincerely thank His Royal Majesty, Omo N’ Oba N’ Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Ewuare II, the Oba of Benin, the Otaru of Auchi, Alhaji Aliru Momoh, Ikelebe III, and all our other Royal Fathers, for their unceasing prayers for the peace of the state before, during and after the elections. We thank our religious leaders for their prayers and intercessions throughout the campaign and even thereafter.
“We commend the good people of Edo State for their peaceful conduct despite the hostile and provocative actions of state officials, which have remained unabated. We urge everyone to remain law-abiding, as responsible citizens. We specially thank our innumerable supporters for their steadfast support and tremendous show of love, and likewise urge them to remain calm while keeping faith alive for a better Edo State which we shall all be proud of.
“Let me conclude by noting that our cause to uplift our state using the democratic system is a noble mission from which we SHALL NEVER waver. As law-abiding citizens, we must all continue to believe in the electoral process as an important part of the democratic system, as it remains the best method of choosing who leads the people, devoid of violence and avoidable acrimony”.
Ize-Iyamu and his family, joined by political associates and friends, had on Sunday held a thanksgiving service at the Soul Winners Assembly Parish of the RCCG which he pastors, to appreciate God for a successful campaign and election. Ministering at the thanksgiving service, the State Regional Pastor of the Church, Professor Dele Balogun, urged supporters of the APC candidate to remain focused and hold on to their faith in God. Balogun stated that “God may allow them to lose a battle and later win the war to test their faith”.
In his sermon titled “Utilizing Opportunities,” Ize-Iyamu dismissed claims that he was downcast over the outcome of the election, asserting that every opportunity must be seized to achieve an aim. He said God expects man to offer Him praises in all situations, so he chose instead to express gratitude for the exercise, as well as immensely thank supporters and those who assisted him.
Ize-Iyamu described defeat as an “imagined state”, stressing that that since the exercise, he had not felt defeated. He admonished his supporters not to allow the seed of defeat germinate amongst them, as God had decreed that all the “Earth is theirs”.
He enjoined his supporters to heed God’s caution in 1Thessalonians 5:16-18 that true believers do not “give way to grief’; ‘rejoice evermore’ and ‘pray without ceasing’ as He (God) only can determine the future”.