17th March, 2023
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Cross River has accused Governor Ben Ayade and the All Progressives Congress (APC) of planning to militarise the March 18 governorship and House of Assembly elections in the state.
Mr. Effiok Cobham, Director General of the PDP Governorship Campaign Council, stated this at a news conference in Calabar late Thursday.
Cobham said that the party was aware of the plans by the police to use a special squad to militarise its stronghold, especially the Northern Senatorial District.
He said that signal to that effect had already been sent by the Commissioner of Police in charge of elections in Cross River, Aliyu Garba.
The director-general said that the signal directed the Commandant of the Rapid Response Squad to send all its men to the northern part of the state.
He said this would not have bothered them but the signal showed that the men had been ordered to engage in “domination patrols, stop-and-search, and carryout aggressive arrests where necessary.”
“We frown at such development and ask in very strong terms that Gov. Ben Ayade and the APC desist from such action because an election is not war.
Cobham, a former Deputy Governor of Cross River, added that things have become so bad that if unchecked, the March 18 would be compromised.
Similarly, Mrs. Emana Amawhe, Deputy Governorship Candidate of the PDP, implored the security agencies in the state to be neutral and independent in their duties.
Amawhe noted that the people of Nigeria had the right to choose who to support in any electioneering process but that was not the case in Cross River.
“If the APC feels it is popular enough in Cross River to get votes, then it should understand that it is only normal for people to be allowed to exercise their franchise during the election.
“We have cases in Calabar where traditional rulers are compelled to go round communities with town criers threatening individuals to vote for a particular candidate or they will be dealt if they failed to do so,” she said.
She called on the international community and residents of Cross River to lend their voices to kick against what she termed an “electoral robbery.”
Meanwhile, the commissioner has assured the people and political parties of neutrality during the polls.
The commissioner said that officers would be deployed to flash points across the state in a bid to ensure peaceful elections.
The police spokesperson, SP Irene Ugbo, who spoke on his behalf, also denied the allegation that the commissioner had a meeting with the governor where plans on how to compromise the governorship election were perfected.
She urged the people to come out en mass to vote for candidates of their choice as they would be protected while exercising their franchise.