Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State has alerted the public to the existence of a fake voter’s register in the state, which has the portrait of a convicted terrorist, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, popularly referred to as the “Underwear Bomber” ahead of the gubernatorial election holding on Wednesday, September 28.
Speaking during a visit to him by the United States Consul General in Lagos, Mr F John Bray, Oshiomhole said he was shocked to see the portrait of the “underwear bomber” in the fake register, but with a Benin name.
Abdulmutallab was convicted of attempting to detonate explosives hidden in his underwear on board an airline from Amsterdam to Detroit, Michigan, on December 25, 2009.
Governor Oshiomhole who raised concern about the duplication of the voter’s register by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said “the foundation for credible election is the voter’s register. Once the voter’s register is manipulated, then you have problems.
“Right now, we have evidence of two versions of voter’s register – the one they have officially distributed and the one that some elements within the ICT in INEC have also produced in Abuja.
And what they have done in the past, which we hear they want to re-enact again, is that whereas they will display one voter’s register which is reasonably accurate, there are still some flaws but let me say it is about 85 percent accurate, they also have a fake one which they intend to bring and spring a surprise in certain locations where they believe that they have no chance, and when the voters go there and you find a voter’s register different from the one that you know, there will be confusion in those voting centres.
“At the end, you may end up having people’s voice level going up and one thing leading to the other, and you could have violence. We will show you those samples between the one that we know and the one we have gotten through our intelligence and I want to give a copy to the embassy, and so you can study it and see it. That, for me, is the only thing I am worried about. If the INEC has two versions of voters register and they display one officially, then we have a problem. And the reason why this is extremely worrisome for me is that in my election in 2012, INEC tried to use this method to disenfranchise many of our supporters.”
“For example, I was shocked to find the portrait of Mr Abdulmutalab, and that will interest your Excellency, the young man who has been jailed in the US for a terrorist act.
“His portrait is in the fake voter’s register with a Benin name under it. I am sure if you look at the face, if we don’t know the face, you the US officials know the face. And you find the name under it, that it is a Benin name in Ovia South West.”
He said INEC has enlisted some members of the opposition as election observers. “Last night, in my local government, one of the PDP leaders, who incidentally is on the list of INEC observers, I can be very specific, one Tenebe. we have information that he got boys around and they were shooting but the police went to apprehend them; they engaged the police in a shooting.
“The police had to go and reinforce. As we speak, I don’t have information as to how that was settled. If you have people like this engaged in violence, then it poses a challenge.
“Unfortunately, it takes more than one hand in this case to achieve a free and fair election. All the political parties must be committed to putting away this thing.
“I saw a write-up today (Tuesday, September 27, 2016), anticipating what might happen, the PDP alleged that their supporters or leaders are being arrested.
“So, those people picked at night, who the security has established include a deserter, an army criminal, with an expired military ID card, that is a PDP leader.
“He is arrested, PDP goes to do a press conference and then their fake observer will do a press conference to say that their people are being arrested.
“So we have quite a number of locations now where we know PDP has a lot of these criminals. We are also not satisfied the way INEC manages observers.
“It has become a business. All manners of criminals and unemployed persons, all under-employed persons or greedy people, they have become mercenaries available,” he said.
Oshiomhole said the state government is totally committed to a free, fair and credible election, adding “as a matter of enlightened self-interest, we are totally committed to free, fair and credible elections because without that I won’t be here, and without that I wouldn’t have been able to win in all the eighteen local governments of Edo State in 2012.
“I guess that if you review your records or your political notes, you will find that up to 2007, our opponents had relied solely on rigging. That last time they had a fairly credible election was the one conducted by the military in 1999.
“Thereafter, they collapsed Edo to one party state and they never bothered to vote. They simply write the results and arm young men to kill and maim anybody who comes their way.”
The United States Consul General, Mr John Bray, who led a delegation of election observers to the Government House said, “We are here to observe the elections, we will all be watching this election very closely. It is essential that the election is peaceful, fair and credible and reflect the will of the Edo citizens.
“The postponement was a setback a few weeks ago, but I still believe it offers us the opportunity to hold the first successful and transparent gubernatorial election in states in 2016.”