Cross River: Ayade, PDP on war path over deployment of military for by-elections

From Judex Okoro, Calabar

Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River and the People Democratic Party (PDP) are on war path over moves to deploy soldiers ahead of Akpabuyo State Assembly and Ogoja/Yala federal constituency by-election in Cross River scheduled for Saturday, February 26, 2022.

While the PDP have rejected the planned deployment of military for the conduct of by-elections, describing it as a grand design to rig, initmidate and harrass voters out of election venues, Governor Ayade said PDP is looking for an excuse ahead of their defeat at the polls.

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Addressing journalists on the planned military depolyment at the party Secretarait Annex at Mary Slessor Avenue on Thursday in Calabar, the State Chairman of the party, Venatius Ikem, Esq, said the people of Akpabuyo, Ogoja and Yala are not going to war rather they are only exercising their franchise amd therefore tjere is no need to try to militrise thses communites.

Ikem said there is no reason why the state governemnt should solicit for late militarisation of the process knowing the implications at this auspicious time.

According to him, “the directive to deploy the army can only come from the Chief of Army Staff and the political parties concerned will be adequately briefed on their operational order.

“There are legitimate ways you can deploy the army as well as illegal ways to intimidate voters. If there are reasons to deploy the army, it will be so stated.

“We will also be briefed on the operational order outside which you cannot deploy the army. PDP will not allow any underhand tactics to undermine an election they are poised to win,” he said.

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He alleged that powers-that-be in the state met the Commander, 13 Brigade of the Nigerian Army in ealry hours of toady to solicit for deployment of the army for the excercise.

He expressed worry that while they are playing by the rules, the government in power is doing everything else to work against the rules of engagement and also create an atmosphere where they will be a breach of security so they can use the apparatus of government to intimidate the party.

Describing PDP allegations as unfounded, the Governor through a preas statement signed by Linus Obogo, the Deputy Chief Press Secretary, the government is taken aback by the party’s unfounded but malicious allegation against the state governor.

The statement said the Governor is an embodiment of civility and refinement as he plays politics with ethics and has no accommodation for violence and electoral malfeasance, including illegal use of security agents to intimidate voters.

Tje statemwnt read in part: “It is quite inconceivable that Ayade and his party, the APC will seek to undermine the very elections that they are on the verge of winning.

“The PDP’s allegation is at best the last kick of a dying horse. Whipping up public sentiment will not save it from defeat and total eviscration.

“Cross Riverians, especially voters in Ogoja/Yala and Akpabuyo, should ignore PDP’s insipid lamentation and troop out to cast their votes on Saturday.”

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