Tension Mounts at Collation Centres in Edo State

As results from yesterday’s presidential and national assembly elections are being awaited, tension and suspense have enveloped the various collation centres in Edo South senatorial district. Reports just coming in say that the Western Boys High School, Ikpoba Hill, venue of collation of results from Ikpoba Okha local government area, may erupt in violence, if the security agents don’t intervene as supporters of two leading candidates – Ehiozuwa Johnson Agbonayima, incumbent member representing Egor/Ikpoba-Okha constituency in the house of representatives seeking re-election, and Jude Ise-Idehen of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, are spoiling for a show-down with each other. The two collation centres in the Benin axis, namely Urhokpota Hall, King’s Square (Ring Road), and Western Boys High School, had been on tenterhooks as results trickled in while anxious candidates and their supporters awaited announcement of official results. Results for the Edo South senatorial seat, and the Oredo federal constituency seats are to be collated at Urhokpota Hall, while that of Egor / Ikpoba-Okha federal constituency are being collated at Western Boys High School, Benin. 

With results from the field already giving a clear picture of winners, Agbonayima earlier today raised the alarm over alleged connivance between members of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to scuttle his purported victory. The magazine gathered that before the atmosphere became chaotic, it had been a game of wits between his supporters and that of Ise-Idehen, a former member of the state House of Assembly. The boys who had positioned themselves outside the collation centre, were said to be preventing each other’s agents from entering the venue to submit expected results from their various wards. It was gathered that all these were going on in the presence of men of the Nigerian Police. A detachment of soldiers reportedly drove in, but curiously left without any action.  

Collation Centres in Edo State
Collation Centres in Edo State

Addressing journalists, Agbonayima complained that the processes of collation of results from some wards in Ikpoba-Okha local government area contravened the Electoral Act and vowed to resist any attempt to scuttle the wishes of the people in his constituency. He accused a chieftain of the PDP, and former governorship candidate in the 2016 gubernatorial election of conniving with officials of INEC to manipulate his re-election. according to him, “PDP, with the help of their cohorts, Pastor Ize-yamu and his team have been trying to manipulate the process in my constituency, Egor and Ikpoba-Okha. Despite the fact that he even lost his own local government to the APC, he is coming to my local government. There are many good people, wonderful people in INEC, but there are some bad eggs. In the Electoral Act Section 27, subsection 1, paragraphs a and b, when election is conducted at the polling unit, it must be counted and announced. From there, they can now proceed to the ward collating centre where the results from the units will be collated and then announced before going to the local government collating centre. All these didn’t happen; especially in ward one, three, four and five in Ikpoba-Okha local government”.

He further alleged that “INEC took the results without my agent; my agents didn’t know where they went to. They went to an unknown destination and expected to bring the result through the back door to the local government collating centre. This cannot stand the test of time”. Reacting to Agbonayima’s allegation, Osagie Ize-Iyamu described him as “a poor loser”. He said as Edo State Coordinator of Atiku campaign, he visited Eghosa Grammar School after information reached him that APC was trying to upturn the results, and he had to tell the agents there to be vigilant. According to Ize-Iyamu, “Unlike EJ, I won my unit and ward which he couldn’t win. I have nothing to do with INEC. He has lost and he has lost, and there is nothing anybody can do”.

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