…Says 75% of polling units were involved in vote-buying
The governorship candidate of the Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party (ANRP) in Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Iboro Otu has vowed to approach the International Criminal Court (ICC) and Election Petition Tribunal to challenged what he termed as “criminal” activities during the 2019 governorship elections in the state, Platinum.ng reports.
Iboro Otu made this assertion during a world Press Conference in Uyo, organized by Architect Nya-Etok Ezekiel of the Young Democratic Party (YDP) and Mr. Iboro Otu of Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party (ANRP) on the outcome of the Akwa Ibom Gubernatorial Elections.
Otu said the ANRP agents and supporters reported that the elections were far from free and fair.
“It is evident from reports from our agents, supporters, our party members and even members of other parties that the just concluded gubernatorial election (in Akwa Ibom State) was far from free and fair. From the data collated so far, it is evident to us that there was widespread vote-buying and voter intimidation occurred across 75% of our polling units”.
“The two major political parties employed several schemes to extort votes from helpless electorates either by offering instant financial rewards for votes at the polling units or by taking voters to undisclosed locations to pay for their votes and voter’s cards; the price ranging from N1,000 to N10, 000, depending on ward and location government”, he said.
“These political parties permeated not only the electorates but also some electoral staff to play ball and look the other way while these despicable actions took place. Some of the parties paid in dollars while others paid in Naira. It is widely known that the PDP, for example, paid N1.1 million in every polling unit. We have videos and photographic evidence to this effect and hundreds of individuals to testify and corroborate this”, he maintained.
“At instances where some electorates elected to vote their candidates other than APC and PDP candidates, these electorates were threatened and stopped from voting while others who had it worse were beaten and threatened not to return. It got so bad that even some of our agents were barred from carrying out their lawful functions as PDP and APC agents and touts overran the polling units”, he said.
He added that “Many other local government areas had it worse – a long list of people were shot, macheted, hospitalized and traumatized as a result of loss of property and belongings in the course of the election.”
“We have pictures and videos of individuals who are still holed up in hospitals and unable to get care because the political parties who promised to foot their bills and encouraged them to keep mum so as not to expose their atrocities have abandoned them to their fate. Many of these people are willing to come out and testify to this. From the tour we have been on after the elections, we have seen that there are many personal stories that should be brought forward so justice can prevail”, he said.
“With the amount of evidence gathered by us, we believe it is our moral duty and obligation to bring this matter to the fore and make sure we do everything possible to arrest the menace of vote-buying and voter-intimidation before it takes hold of our fledgling democracy”, he stated.
“Together we have devised numerous strategies to make this a national fight, such that even international spotlight will be shone on this. We believe if vote-buying continues into the next cycle of elections, it would have institutionalized itself and opened doors for illicit money to make its way into our democratic process, thus causing almost irreversible damage, especially when vast numbers of people with questionable character would have purchased their way into power or paid for another. The immediate effect would be multi-pronged; mismanagement of our collective commonwealth, alienation of the common man from government or his ascension to any political office, corruption of collective societal conscience, destroying the fabric of culture and society, and destruction of moral values. These basically means death to society as we know it”.
“We believe this foresight led the international community to term vote-buying, which is well couched under political repression, a crime against humanity. As such, we have all options on the table. We seek to make timely impact with the Nigerian legal system, while also approaching the International Criminal Court for further support for our fight against this cancer”, said Otu.