Ahead of Saturday’s governorship election in Edo State, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party has raised the alarm over alleged arrest of its members and supporters by the All Progressives Congress.
The party also accused the APC of using security agencies to unlawfully harass its members in different parts of the state, saying the action was unethical and undemocratic.
The Edo State Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Chris Nehikhare, on Sunday, said that the party had received several reports of alleged political victimisation by the ruling party, adding that this had increased fear among the party’s members.
According to him, an unnamed aide to a former Deputy Speaker and Majority Leader of the Edo State House of Assembly, Fred Omoigberale, was allegedly molested by the police in Owan-East Local Government Area.
But the Police Public Relations Officer, Edo Command, Theodore Okafor, denied the allegation, adding that the security agency was not against any political party.
Okafor said, “The police command is against criminals and not against any party. So, if anybody is alleged to have committed an offence and the police go to arrest, nobody should read sentiments into it.”
Nehikhare, in a statement, said, “From reports, the police having missed Omoigberale at home the first time, went to his office, where, in his absence, his manager was subjected to humiliation upon learning that he is a member of the PDP.
“In Iyamho, Etsako-West LGA, 22 members of the PDP were also arrested. No reasons have been given for these arrests.”
He also alleged that the arrests and harassment were strategies the ruling APC designed to manipulate the election to its advantage.
“The PDP and various civil society groups have been mounting a media campaign for the intervention of the international community and the Presidency over the arrests and harassment. If not checked, the stage may be set for a violence-prone election in Edo State,” the PDP statement said.
When contacted, the Edo State Publicity Secretary of the APC, Godwin Erhahon, told our correspondent on the telephone that the party was not aware of the claims by the opposition party.
Erhahon said, “As we speak, I am not aware of any intimidation on our part. I do not believe that the party has a hand in the arrests. I do not believe that it is true.”