14th May, 2012
Hell was let loose on Monday at the Edo State office of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Benin City as hoodlums allegedly stabbed an ad-hoc staff of the electoral body to death and a member of Drivers Welfare Scheme in the state also killed during the mayhem that lasted for about three hours.
The attack occurred during a protest against alleged attempt by INEC to organise a fresh voters’ registration exercise ahead of the 14 July 2012 governorship election in the state.
The ACN alleged that the process was a design by INEC and PDP to rig the election.
Several people who were reportedly injured during the fracas are said to be receiving treatment in various hospitals in the state capital.
The name of the dead member of the drivers welfare association was given as Omosigho Wilfred while the identities of other victims could not be readily ascertained as at the time of filing this report.
Following this, aggrieved members of the welfare scheme stormed the secretariat complex of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Edo state council with the remains of their deceased member.
They carried placards and went round the streets and major roads with the corpse of their dead member after which they called on the governor to call his men to order and that the state police command should ensure that justice was done in the matter.
It was gathered that members of the drivers welfare scheme were at the INEC office in solidarity with the governor when suddenly a rival group hijacked the protest to unleash mayhem on the unsuspecting members.
The group heaped blamed the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Transport Henry Okaka and a stalwart of ACN in Oredo council, Tony Kabaka for the mayhem.
Moses Gbeghen who gave a vivid account of how the victim was murdered, said: “We were at INEC office to show solidarity to the governor at about 10: 00 am today when Henry Okaka and Tony Kabaka led a group of thugs and attacked us. We were attacked by former members of the drivers welfare scheme and they killed one of our members. Others are in coma while the rest are in different hospitals. We are demanding for justice and appealing to the stat government to call its men to order because we are law abiding citizens.”
Hundreds of thugs during the incident overwhelmed the gatemen at the commission’s office in the heat of the protest over controversy that the INEC staff was in possession of one of the Direct Data Capturing machines meant for the exercise.
Members of the ACN during the protest called on the chairman of INEC, Professor Attahiru Jega, to order the immediate evacuation of all the DDC machines in the custody of the office of the commission in Edo state to allow peace to rein in the state.
This came as the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Edo state chapter yesterday denied the accusation by the ACN that the former chairman board of trustees of the PDP, Chief Tony Anenih, had a secret meeting with INEC chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega, aimed at paving way for the electoral commission to perfect the rigging of the governorship polls in favour of the opposition party in the state.
Chairman of the PDP in the state, Chief Orbih who stated this during a press conference in Benin City, warned the state governor and his ruling ACN about the consequence of their desperate activities leading to the real conduct of the election and to consider throwing in the towel where they are not convinced that the process would not favour them in a free, fair and credible contest.
Orbih described as laughable, ridiculous and baseless the accusation by the ruling party, pointing out that Chief Anenih had never met with Prof. Jega in whatever capacity for the commission to perfect the rigging of the coming polls for the PDP and that the epic battle would not be decided by himself (Orbih) or Oshiomhole rather it is the Edo people that would determine who becomes the next governor of the state come 14 July.
By Jethro Ibileke/Benin