The Edo State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state, Governor Godwin Obaseki, on Wednesday traded words over an allegation by the main opposition party that it sighted suspected thugs allegedly imported from PDP states at the Government House in Benin.
A statement by the Chairman of the Media Campaign Council of APC, Mr. John Mayaki, said: “Buses loaded with strange faces have been spotted entering Benin City, capital of Edo State. The buses with unidentifiable registration numbers have been increasingly sighted around Ring Road, making their way to the Government House, Benin as well as other major cities in the three senatorial districts of the state.
“We have it on good authority that within the space of two weeks, Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, and his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have ferried into the state busloads of thugs from neighbouring PDP states.”
But the Special Adviser to the Governor on Media and Communication Strategy, Mr. Crusoe Osagie, dismissed the APC’s allegation, saying, the main opposition party is jittery having realised that its candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, is no match for Obaseki.
“So far, according to our findings, nearly a thousand thugs are being housed across sections of Government House in Benin, and at designated hotels across the three senatorial districts of Edo State. The only mission they have is to function as disruptive and destructive elements at polling centres during the election,” Mayaki said.
Responding on behalf of the governor, Osagie faulted the allegation and accused the APC of churning out lies and propaganda in its bid to get the September 19 poll cancelled or postponed.
He said: “Recall that we raised the alarm earlier that the APC is committed to derailing the forthcoming election. The party’s tactics include the daily publication of falsehood and fear-mongering by the media handlers of its gubernatorial candidate.
“The party’s ultimate aim is to get the attention of the electoral umpire and security agencies and mislead them into cancelling or postponing the Edo gubernatorial poll.
“Another strategy of the APC is to accuse the PDP of the set of desperate and illegal actions that the APC is guilty of in order to divert public attention from its rigging strategies being perfected in some hotels in Kogi, Edo and some South-west states.”
He urged the police and other security agencies as well as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to deliver an election that is devoid of violence and electoral malfeasance.