The People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Cross River North Senatorial By-election primary witnessed an outbreak of violence as one person was feared dead. Two others were shot and journalists as well as delegates were teargassed.
The primary which held at the Ogoja Local Government, however, produced former chairman of the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), Dr Stephen Odey asa candidate despite the alleged irregularities of not obeying the Federal High Court order of September 4.
Odey polled 450 votes to defeat his closest rival and member of the House of Representatives, Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe, who garnered 90 votes.
On eve of the election two persons suspected to be supporter of Agom, one of the Senatorial aspirant for the primary were killed by suspected thugs in the house of one of the aides to the state governor, Senator Ben Ayade.
On September 5, day of the primary over 200 well armed policemen encircled the venue of the elections and and some delegates and journalists were dispersed with several tear gas canisters and fire shuts and in the process two people were wounded.
The Cross River State Chairman of the Nigerian Union of Journalists comrade Victor Udu who lead the delegation deployed the mayhem that characterised the excercise.
Udu said: “I have not seen anything near this scale before where the security men refuse to recognise anybody even when journalists identified themselves with their tags.
“The security men said they were out on a mission; it’s a shame. It is deplorable that in a senatorial bye-elections it could degenerate to this level. It’s indeed unfortunate and a shame to our democracy.
“The policeman pointed a gun at journalists and said every other person is an enemy and immediately opened teargas on us and we scampared to safety.
“This warning is especially for the security agencies. If after this excercise, or during the excercise I hear or see that my members are being threatened then we will take it up with Nigeria Police”, he said.
The chairman of the electoral panel, Hon Olorogun Taleb Tebite, however, described the process as peaceful and orderly.
He declared Odey as the winner of the primary election having scored the highest number of votes.
One of the INEC officials who observed the primaries, Mr. Amula Timotheus expressed satisfaction with the exercise.
He said the exercise was conducted in line with INEC guidelines and was therefore, satisfactory.
On his part, the state governor, Sir Ben Ayade, expressed satisfaction with the conduct of the exercise.
The governor, who spoke moments after casting his vote lauded the peaceful atmosphere under which the election was held.
Reacting in a telephone interview, Agom rejected the report, saying “so many delegates were excluded and I will take appropriate steps in seeking redress.
“That the election is a nullity as they did not obey the court order and the authentic list was not used”.
Also speaking, the former PDP National Publicity Secretary, Venatius Ikem, Esq, said what transpired was not a true reflection of a parry primary because even Hon Jarigbe had to leave when he notices the irregularities.
Ikem , who was also an automatic delegate from Obudu, alleged that some fake delegates were brought in from the back door just as officials from government House and security agents manhandled delegates.
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