Nineteen candidates are vying for the ticket to the Government House. But the main contest is seen to be between Godwin Obaseki of the All Progressives Congress, the ruling party in the state, and Andrew Ize-Iyamu of the Peoples Democratic Party.
There’s only one female governorship candidate, Tracy Agol, the 44-year-old Peoples’ Party of Nigeria aspirant.
Seven political parties have women as their deputy governorship candidates.
Edo State has a total of 1,925,105 registered voters; 192 Registration Areas (RAs); 2,627 Polling Units (Pus); and 4,011 Voting Points (VPs).
A total of 25,000 police officers were deployed across the state to ensure peace and security during the polls, while 44 observer groups were accredited by the Independent National Electoral Commission as election monitors.
Voting material have arrived at Polling Unit 005 in Benin.
An INEC adhoc staff explains the voting process to prospective voters at a primary school in Benin.
“The process has changed. Now after accreditation, you vote immediately.
“Voting starts by 8 am and stops at 2pm. Those who are in the queue when it’s 2pm will be allowed to cast their votes.”
At PU 001 in Asoro Primary School, Benin, a party agent attempted to tell people to vote for her party.
Eghosa Arase, a voter, said everything was fine until the agent began canvassing for her party.
“The election is going peacefully, but some certain things is happening, some other members of some party, they are trying to cause crisis though we’ve tried to bring everything down.
“When you want to canvass, you have to canvass at home before you come here.”
PREMIUM TIMES found out that one of the major parties was giving out N2,000 to have people vote for its candidate.
80-year-old Alice Akpaha arrived at the polling unit with her temporary voters card and was told she couldn’t vote.
“They’ll give you the one you can use in 2019,” a party agent told her.
Voting has commenced at PU 021, Emokpae Primary School, Benin.
Godwin Obaseki, the APC candidate, arrives at his polling unit to cast his vote and shouts of ‘next governor, next governor’ rents the air.
Mr. Obaseki joins the queue to vote.
Mr. Obaseki, speaking in Pidgin English, said he is impressed with the voter turnout at his polling unit.
“Na my papa area where dem born me. So a lot of my family dey around here and everybody dey happy say governorship candidate come from their own area,” he said.
Mr. Obaseki is queued behind his wife. There are still 26 people before them.
“The queue for my unit is still very long, it will take some time but I no mind at all. Everything dey very calm, peaceful, no trouble at all.”
Peter Nwadichi, an election monitor and the Coordinator, Network on Good Governance, told PREMIUM TIMES that “The process has been peaceful in the sense that materials came on time. As we speak people are being accredited, voting is taking place simultaneously.”
“For now, INEC has gotten it right. The card readers have not malfunctioned, they are working perfectly for now. We have not seen anybody that complained that the card reader is giving them problem, so let us just assume that the card reader process is going on smoothly.”
PDP candidate, Andrew Ize-Iyamu, yet to vote at his Iguododo village.
He took out time to move around his community greeting elders and community leaders.
Voting commenced in the area AT about 8.30 a.m. and everywhere is calm and peaceful.
While doing this, cameras were not allowed to take pictures.
Mr. Obaseki voted at exactly 10.30 a.m., one hour after joining the queue.
Afterwards, he told journalist he had confidence in INEC conducting a free and fair poll.
“We’d had an isolated incident from somewhere in Edo Central but I think that is being handled.
“My expectation is that at the end of the day, the exercise will be peaceful because what is important is that we don’t lose lives, we don’t spill blood because of election. My hope is that we a very peaceful election and at the end of the day we strengthen our electoral process.”
APC Chairman, John Odigie-Oyegun, arriving and casting his vote at PU001, Staff Training School, Benin.
Mr. Oyegun after voting:
“I am very pleasantly surprised because this is the best turnout, I’ve always voted here, this is the best turnout I’ve ever experienced. It presumes that something good is about to happen, that people are keen to express their democratic options.
“It’s peaceful so far, I’ve been watching on TV.”
At the PU where he voted, PREMIUM TIMES observed APC members compiling a list and giving out money (a beneficiary said it was N10,000 each) to voters. A fight almost broke out in the process.
When Mr. Oyegun was confronted with the development, he replied:
“When I look at a place like this I don’t know how you can give someone money. How do you know somebody has voted, given how secret it truly is, nobody will know how you’ve thumb printed.
“Please is there somebody sharing money let me go to him and take my own.”
On the security arrangement for the election, the APC chairman described it as “lovely.”
“Well, I’m national chairman of the party and it was something that was of grave concern for us all the time. All the security agencies have given us iron clad assurance that there will be no incident, at least, no major incident.”
Matthew Urhoghide, senator representing Edo Central, after voting at PU 004, George Idaa Model Primary School in Benin, said the issue of vote-buying by the APC should be nipped in the bud.
“There is criticisms for some of the things going on, particularly the horse trading and the haggling, the touting that is going on,” he told PREMIUM TIMES.
“It’s very obvious in this Unit 4 and, of course, I think this is obscene. The APC is doing it with a whole lot of impudence.”
But for a quick security intervention, the safety of election observers would have been jeopardized, as thugs tried to disrupt voting activities at Unit 26 and 27 at Iduenbo Ward, Orhiowon Local Government Area.
The scene of the skirmish was not far from Iguododo, the village of the Peoples Democratic Party candidate, Osagie Ize-Iyamu.
Officials of Cleen Foundation were at the unit to observe the election when they observed some of the thugs create a scene.
As they tried to take pictures, the thugs assailed them, but they fled in their vehicle leaving one of them behind.
One of the officials, Chigo Okoro, told PREMIUM TIMES that the thugs pursued them until they got to Iguododo. He said they were rescued by officials of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps.
The security officials immediately escorted the observers back to the scene of the crisis to secure the life of the Cleen official left behind.
When PREMIUM TIMES got to the unit, calm had returned.
The Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in the Edo governorship election, Osagie Ize-Iyamu, voted in his Iguododo community at about 10 a.m., on Wednesday, praising the conduct of the election so far.
Mr. Ize-Iyamu, who did not queue for his turn when he arrived at his unit 26, Ward 5, voting point, was immediately given the chance to exercise his franchise as soon as he arrived.
He said the exercise was going smoothly and that the card readers within his community were working perfectly well.
He, however, expressed doubts that the same was witnessed in order centres, as telephone networks were so bad he could not reach out to his agents to determine the state of things.
He expressed hope that the peaceful conduct would continue throughout the election.
Despite security presence at the polling units, transactions on buying and selling of votes continued unhindered in some units monitored on Wednesday.
PREMIUM TIMES observed at Igueke community, in Orhiowon Local Government Area, a crowd of young men distributing cash to influence voting in the early hours of Wednesday.
Some of the voters at unit 26 and 27 in Iduenbo Ward, would first visit the distributor of the cash encircled by members of the group before going to queue for voting.
In Auchi, Etsakor West local government, the practice is rampant, as cash was distributed openly to voters.
Premium Times gathered that the voters first received N1000 before queuing. They got a balance of N1000 after voting for the candidate who paid the money.
An observer who spoke to PREMIUM TIMES on Wednesday said the practice was rampant at units 7, 9 and 10 Ward 1.
“As I speak to you now, they are doing it and as I talk to you, they are hearing me talking to you about,” he said.
But the Social Democratic Party has lamented the use of funds to buy votes in the election.
Publicity Secretary of the party, Oshiobugie Bonvist, said he had observed the buying of votes himself at different polling units.
“The election is very peaceful and orderly except the buying of votes,” Mr. Bonvist said.
“They are sharing N2000 each and I observe that it is the ruling APC that is doing it right now.”
He noted that the election is going well and hoped that it would remain so until the end of the election.
A press statement by the PDP
We have become aware that senior members of the All Progressives’ Congress (APC), in collusion with certain staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) have started writing fake & fictitious results as part of their plan to manipulate the Edo State Gubernatorial Election which is taken place today.
2. We are aware that these APC members are working in collusion with Amina Zakari, an INEC national official; Imoudu Sule, Edo State INEC PRO, the Delta State REC, and the National Deputy Director of Operations.
3. We are also aware that these officials have distributed millions of Naira to the Local Government Electoral Officers to get them to write false & fictitious results in favour of APC even before votes are cast.
4. It is necessary to warn the Nigerian public that our Party will resist any attempts by the Ruling Party to subvert the will of the people by any engagement in the substitution of electoral materials.
5. We urge all well-meaning Nigerians to counsel INEC and the Ruling Party to refrain from acting in a manner that may lead to the breakdown of law and other.
6. May God bless Edo State. May God bless Nigeria.
Violence in Irua
Violence broke out as voting progressed on Wednesday at Ikekato Ward 4, Unit 1, at Irua, Esan Central, as supporters of the Peoples Democratic Party and the All Progressives Congress clashed during voting.
The attackers were reportedly of the PDP, and the area is dominated by the party’s supporters.
PREMIUM TIMES gathered that the violence also spread to units 1, 5, 6, 8 and 9 of the same Ward.
It was also learnt that security officials intervened to calm the situation, but the threats were still there as the thugs often return as soon as the policemen were gone.
The Chairman of the APC in the state, Anslem Ojezua, is from the Ward where the violence has been recorded.
He told PREMIUM TIMES on the phone that although the police had intervened, the threats were still very imminent.
He said the thugs who he described as PDP’s, had been unleashing violence on voters when they realized that the party they support was losing at the unit.
“They came and began to attack individuals, breaking their heads and disrupting the process,” Mr. Ojezua said.
“The police are not doing enough, they need to do more. Just telling people that they should not fight is not enough, they need to arrest some of them.
“As I speak to you, there is movement, when the security agencies said there should be no movement.
“These people are going about freely and causing problems. The process is being threatened if the security agencies don’t do something about right now.”
Ize-Iyamu protests presence of El-Rufai, Ambode in Benin
The candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Osagie Ize-Iyamu, has protested the presence of the governors of Lagos and Kaduna States, Akinwumi Ambode and Nasir El-rufai, in Edo State.
He said their presence in the state was worrisome in the face of the restriction placed on movement of persons within the state.
“We are also aware that the governor’s of Lagos and Kaduna States, Ambode and El-rufai, are also in Benin,” he said.
“This is worrisome. If the security agencies can declare restriction of movement even for those in the state, we are wondering why two governors not from Edo State will relocate to our state.
“We think that their reasons cannot be genuine. We have gone through the period of campaigning and we expect Edo people will be left alone to vote.”
He also said that the PDP had written to the Inspector General of Police on the several arrest and harassment of supporters, and had received assurances that the police in the state would be called to order.
“You know they have been using the security agencies to harass our people even till last night trying to arrest them, detain them in any flimsy excuses,” Mr. Ize-Iyamu said.
“But we have spoken to their superiors who have assured us that those who are doing so are doing it on their own and they would call them to order. For now we are satisfied with that assurance.”
But the APC has replied Mr. Ize-Iyamu, saying his complaints have no effect as the governors did not influence the process of election in any way.
“We have finished campaigns and I don’t know what their presence will do to the election,” Anslem Ojezua, Chairman of APC in Edo State, said.
“Who does it better than the PDP? They do it better. The governors have nothing to do with the election.
“Do they have any evidence that these two gentlemen have influenced the process in anyway?”
Although there is a restriction order on movement of persons and vehicles, these appear not to be working several hours before the close of elections.
Because the election has been largely peaceful, security has been relaxed and some of the road blocks mounted by the military in strategic points have been dismantled.
Just in !!!
In Ward 6 unit 14 &15, Hon Adjoto Kabir has hijacked materials, seized the phone of Jide Obalowose, a prominent PDP member.
The spokespersons of Governors Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos and Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna have refuted the claim by the PDP candidate.
Both governors were nowhere near Edo today, their spokespersons said.
APC chieftain and and former Deputy Governor of Edo State, Chief Lucky Imasuen lost his unit to PDP with PDP having 211 votes to APC’S 178 in ward 10, Unit 2, Egor LGA.
Check the ELECTION RESULTS HERE.