Governorship candidate of the Labour Party in Enugu State, Barr Chijioke Edeoga has raised the alarm of alleged plans by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), to use armed thugs to frustrate efforts at free and fair Governorship and House of Assembly elections on 18th March in the state.
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Hon Edoga called on the Federal Government to conduct an urgent audit of the guns approved for vigilante security services in the state to avert what he described as “a war” on the people of the state.
Edeoga in a press statement that he personally signed, alleged that the State Government and the PDP are distributing to hired party thugs, the arms, which were approved for procurement by the Federal Government for use to augment the efforts of the conventional security services in the state.
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He also accused the PDP of attempts to steal the Saturday, 18th March 2023 elections by violent means.
The LP governorship candidate said if urgent steps are not taken to arrest the thugs that have been allegedly imported into the state to destabilise the elections, those he accused of trying to steal the elections are determined to make the voting process a bloody one.
He accused the staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of allegedly conniving with the PDP and officials of the Enugu State Government to cause delays in the distribution of electoral materials and urged the Federal Government to mandate the electoral umpire to move all electoral materials from its storage at the Enugu branch of the Central Bank of Nigeria to all the LGA Headquarters in the state.
“From the look of things, what the Peoples Democratic Party is preparing for is not an election, but a war. It is a war against the people of the state, a war against democratic progress in Nigeria, and a war against the popular will of the people. We are making this call because we are also aware that these men are being armed and prepared to operate freely, appearing in Police, Army and Civil Defence uniforms, a decoy that would enable free movement across the state and to all areas targeted for their planned attacks,” Edeoga said.
Going into specifics, the Labour Party Governorship candidate, who was also a journalist and member of the House of Representatives, said the areas allegedly being targeted include Isi Uzo, Uzo Uwani, Igbo Eze North, Igbo Eze South and Udenu Local Government Areas and some parts of the state capital.
He urged the security agencies to take steps to protect the integrity of the elections.
“Areas being specifically targeted for attacks and delays in the deployment of election materials by thugs include in Enugu metropolis – Okpara Square, School of Dental Technology, Achara Layout Primary School, Idaw River Primary School and Igbariam Primary School, all in Enugu. For Isi Uzo, Uzo Uwani, Igbo Eze North, Igbo Eze South and Udenu Local Government Areas, we have been reliably informed that the Council Chairmen for these LGAs have all hired thugs and already harbouring them in some hotels and residences of senior party officials in their respective areas,” Edeoga pointed out in the statement.
He accused some highly placed people at the top echelon of government and the PDP of being behind the plans, alleging that the Labour Party victory during the presidential elections has driven the ruling party in the state into desperation.
“We have it on good authority that the plans by these enemies of the state, is to strategically target many of the rural communities in the state, where, our intelligence has informed, disruption of voting and/or frustration of collation of results is their core objective. We have also been informed that major polling units with potential for huge Labour Party votes have been identified, with armed and dangerous non-state actors, already briefed to do all within their power, including deadly force and summary killings, to ensure that results in polling units are not collated and uploaded to the INEC server, using the legally prescribed instrument of the Bimodal Voter Registration System (BIVAS).
“We are aware that weapons, which were legitimately acquired by the Enugu State Government for use by the Enugu State Vigilante Services and the Forest Guards to support the efforts of the conventional security agencies in protecting lives and property in the state, are currently being distributed to political party thugs for use in destabilising the electoral process on Saturday.
“These thugs numbering in their hundreds have been aggregated from various places in and outside Enugu State to spread mayhem, fear, intimidation and even summary executions to feed the desperate and inordinate ambitions of people, whose only desire is to win elections,” the LP candidate added.
He called on all relevant authorities, particularly, the DSS, DMI and the INEC to take every step necessary for a free, fair, credible and transparent election.