Oshiomhole expresses shock as soldiers block INEC officials

Oshiomhole expresses shock as
soldiers block INEC officials

By Osei Peters

Following reports that accredited INEC
officials were restricted and stopped by
some soldiers from conducting their lawful
duties in parts of Edo North, Governor
Adams Oshiomhole said the report is
shocking as electoral officials should not be
restricted on their own day.
The Governor who noted that the soldiers
must have got an illegal order from their
Commander said, “yesterday (Friday) I
addressed the Press and I did say that
Brigadier Odidi has chosen to frustrate this
exercise in Edo North. Ironically, Brigadier
Odidi is from Agenebode and he is the one
who is giving this unlawful order.”
INEC officials who were taking election
materials to Ward 10, Unit 1 in Iyamho,
Etsako West Local Government Area were
stopped by soldiers who had laid siege to
the home town of Governor Adams
Oshiomhole. The INEC officials told
reporters that were forced to sit on the
ground, alongside their police escort for
several hours.
They were later allowed to leave after they
got calls from their superiors. The soldiers
said they were acting on strict orders from
above.
Even journalists were not spared the
soldiers’ ordeal as the INEC accreditation
cards and reflective jackets were ignored
while each reporter was asked to produce
their company ID cards. The soldiers said
the reporters were not permitted to
monitor the exercise from one unit to
another as they were only allowed to
monitor a particular unit.
Miffed by the restriction of INEC officials,
Oshiomhole continued, “Why the Nigerian
Army will be used in this manner, only God
knows. So I am surprised that they are
restricting INEC Officers from distributing
materials. I have told the Brigade
Commander and I am waiting to see what
he is going to do but when you bear in mind
that time is if the essence, if we finally go
and beg the General to please allow
democracy, time is gone. First there is no
light across the country so we are going to
have everywhere in the dark. Under such
situation, nobody knows what happens but
I refuse to be frustrated and I appeal to our
people not to be frustrated, we will sort
things out.
“It is clear they have serious problem taking
off. As you can see I am here and they say
the card reader is not well programmed, it
is not functioning and I got report from my
Ward Headquarters that there are materials
that are there and apparently the returning
officers are trapped there because the
soldiers wouldn’t let them cross their
barricade. From Apana the Ward
Headquarters to this place, my voting
centre takes about 10 minutes because of
the good roads we have done.”
The Governor maintained, “I have
complained to the soldiers here. I have also
called the Brigade Commander to draw his
attention to it. This one is completely
incomprehensible because I do not know
what the briefing of the Army is but what
Professor Jega said is that in the event of a
machine not working, they have spare to
use and they have officers who would put
them to work.
“Now if the Army is blocking INEC officials
from moving, this is a new dimension that
we have not heard of before and I thought
the business of the Army is basically to
check people who are carrying offensive
weapons, I do not know if card reader is
now an offensive weapon. I have
complained to the Brigade Commander,
Major General Olaleye and you have also
heard me mentioning it to the Electoral
Officer (E.O).
“My appeal; our people have a proverb that
when you know that enemies are
surrounding you, you do not go and rub
yourself with an inflammable chemical
such that when they just push you a little
bit and you sit near fire, you get roasted.
There is no doubt there are enemies of
democracy, there is no doubt there are
people who do no want free and fair
elections and therefore I am not going to
lend support by way of any comment that
will readily suit the expectation of those
who are anti-democratic.
“I have spoken to the INEC REC in Benin
and I believe that Professor Jega the
Chairman should be aware of what is going
on in Edo where card readers are not
working in many places. We have gotten
reports from Benin and across the state and
it appears the problem is rather widespread
but it is my hope that INEC has sensible
alternatives to invoke when we are in this
kind of critical condition.
“I want to appeal to Nigerians, we have
suffered enough. One more day of suffering
will not kill us so let us exercise all the
patience that we can, let’s refuse to be
frustrated, let us not resort to a shouting
match. By the Grace of God, God will not
leave us hopeless.
“As leaders we must provide leadership role,
more so at this hour. I have faith in
democracy, it is not a choice, it is the only
option. All of us have to be ready to sacrifice
the day. I am very impressed seeing
ordinary people queue up patiently to vote.
These are farmers who if they don’t work,
they don’t earn. They are not like urban
people who put pen to paper and steal
money and earn even without working. If
they sleep, their production will sleep. So
they donate their production today for
Nigeria’s democracy and this is what they
get, but I am happy that they are not
fighting.
It is already getting to a critical point, it is
few minutes to 11:00am and some
materials have not been able to reach here
because the Army blocked up the roads for
INEC, and where INEC has reached, the
machines are not working. I want to hope
that this will be solved and so let us wait”,

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