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PDP Reports Rigging In House Of Reps Election In Epe, Lagos

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The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has alleged rigging in the House of Representatives election in Epe Constituency of Lagos State which was held on Saturday, April 11, 2015.
Making the allegation was the candidate of the PDP in the election, Apeson Bola Gbabija, who said his All Progressives Conngress (APC) counterpart Tunji Wale connived with Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) officials to deprive him of his mandate, claiming that ballot papers thumb-printed in his favour were intentionally dumped.
Gbabija, 57, who had served as a minority leader in the Lagos State House of Assembly from 2007-2011 and as a member of the Federal House of Representatives, gave details of the incident while speaking to Vanguard.
His words: “On the day of the election, the tradition is that candidates and parties chieftains assemble at the final collating centre. But because they had a hidden agenda, only one person who, by my reckoning, is not in the top echelon of APC, was seated all through the counting and balancing. This kind of rigging has never happened in the history of Epe. I am a politician. I know the intricacies. I know Epe politics but we did not suspect that something was happening. The next day, we were still at the coalition centre. In the evening of the second day, we heard that they was an impasse and that they could not announce the winner of the election. They said they had the authority of Lagos and Abuja to return to Lagos and stop announcing anybody as the winner.

“It was obvious that they were playing pranks while they were wasting time delaying the announcement of the election. I was there as a candidate, their candidate was not there. I was there with my chairman and secretary. Only their chairman was there.

“My honest assessment of the election is that it was shrouded in controversy. There was stuffing of ballot boxes, chasing away of my agents and not allowing the INEC ad-hoc staff to carry out their functions. We have about 346 polling booths in Epe. Unfortunately, we were unable to get materials into a quarter of the total polling booths and, where we had, they arrived very late, and where they arrived very late, the entire process was shrouded in secrecy. Agents who dared them were threatened, that they were going on a journey of no return.   That scared many of our agents.

“The result of the election was said to be stalemated by the INEC staff who consulted with officers of INEC in Abuja and they told her to move all materials to Lagos and dis-continue further counting and stop the announcement of result. But to our dismay, we later heard that she was forced to announce the results by those left behind, because we left immediately she gave reasons they couldn’t continue with the counting of votes. Immediately she told me the situation of things, there was argument involving the three candidates. When I suspected that it may snowball into serious problem, we concluded that there was no need wasting time there and we left.   Unfortunately, we later heard that the electoral officer announced that my major opponent, the candidate of the APC, won the election.

“ I won the election going by what happened at the polling units. It showed I am accepted and people came out massively to vote for me. And there was an ugly incident at the collating centre.   We saw some dumped ballot papers at the back of the building at the voting centre. We were shocked to notice also that the ballot papers were already thumb printed in favour of the PDP and, by extension, me. We called the attention of the INEC official and all the security agents around to the incident. But I was told that these were some papers that were stopped while collation was going on.

“They said we should maintain the peace because people were highly agitated. They called me personally and said ‘ Honourable, please calm your people, we will find a way around this thing’ . But, eventually, they started telling us stories on how somebody could have left the ballot papers there mistakenly. We didn’t buy that because it was huge and somebody would not have left it mistakenly. I told the officials that the only way out was to take inventory of everything and, while we were at it, one APC stalwart came and told INEC officials they were wasting their time on the issue.

“ The APC stalwart came with thugs and whisked away the polling officers under the excuse that the counting of votes was more important than the issues raised.   While they were whisking away the officials, the thugs brought by the APC stalwart were busy displaying dangerous weapons on the streets. I called the attention of security agents to the dangerous development and they can testify to that. While these things were going on, I concluded that they might have substituted the votes cast in favour of PDP and replaced them with their thumb- printed ballot papers.   They reduced the number of votes cast in favour of PDP.

“I want to implore Professor Jega that the beautiful job he has done so far should not end at the top.   He should extend it to other elections.   That way, he will be seen like someone with an eagle eye to look at everywhere.   Also he should return the verdict and mandate stolen to appropriate people and quarters. We have four honourable members in Epe who have served at difference times since the inception of the fourth republic.   With all modesty, I think I am the best out of the four. I have provided infrastructure. I have provided for the common man. I have trained over 300 youths in skill acquisition. I made arrangement with the Lagos government to educate indigenes.   At the end of the day, they were all properly established with working materials. I also provided 17 bore holes and 23 hand pumps for villages. I provided street lights for about four communities. I built a school through MDG support in my area. I built schools in different communities, even in Ise which is giving me so much headache.”

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