By Magnus Effiong
Few hours to the February 26 by-elections in Ogoja/Yala and Akpabuyo, the People’s Democratic Party, (PDP) in Cross River state has alleged that soldiers have been deployed to intimidate its members with an aim to cause the All Progressives Congress (APC) to hijack the polls and claim victory.
This party’s Chairman, Vena Ikem, who said this in Calabar, Thursday, during a press conference, appealed to the leadership of various security agencies in the country to stop what he said was an attack on democracy.
“We reject completely the attempt to mobilize the Navy, the Airforce and other detachments of the Police units which are not under the direct control and supervision of the Commissioner of Police.
“While we remain law-abiding and shall accept the outcome of the elections if the rules are followed by all parties, we will not allow any under-hand tactics to be used to hijack an election which we know we will win.
“This information is for the attention of the Inspector-General of Police, Director General of the state Security Service, SSS, The Chief of Army Staff, the Chief of Naval Staff and all other heads of security agencies in the country,” he stated.
Shortly after, a press statement stating the party’s postulations on the issue was released and made available to Pillar Today.
The statement, signed by the party’s Publicity Secretary, Mike Ojisi, and dated 24th February 2022 was titled, ‘”Ayade’s Plan to Use Military and Police to Disrupt By-election: An Act of Political Banditry.”
The statement read in part: “We have received intelligence information about the plan by the failure-ridden APC to collude with the military and some units of the Police Force to disenfranchise voters and cause mayhem in Ogoja/Yala Federal Constituency and Akpabuyo Local Government Area.
“We have it on good authority that the Governor is currently mobilizing the military, Operation Akpakwu and the Sting Unit attached to the Governor’s office to militarize the by-election and dissuade eligible voters from coming out to vote.
“To this end, we call on the Security agencies, especially the Army and the Police to show high level of discipline and professionalism in the discharge of their duties and resist any attempt to be use by self-serving political bandits to carry out anti-people and anti-democratic electoral malpractice.
But, the Assistant Public Relations Officer of the 13 Brigade of the Nigerian Army, Calabar, Captain Dorcas Aluko, when contacted over the matter, said the army was not taking side with any political party.
Aluko said official statement would be made available on the issue but added that in case electorates observe detachments of military personnel on Saturday, it should be regarded as a normal patrol routine to maintain peace and security.
However, the Army was yet to release an official statement as at the time of filling this report.