THE APC governorship candidate in Benue State, Emmanuel Jime, yesterday accused the State Governor, Samuel Ortom of collaborating with other PDP stalwarts to rig the Match 9 governorship election.
Jime in a statement issued by his campaign deputy director, Kula Terso, alleged that Governor Ortom in collaboration with his predecessor, Gabriel Suswam, are behind the massive rigging that resulted to the declaration of the March 9 governorship election by INEC inconclusive and ordered for a re-run.
But in a swift response, Governor Ortom in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Terver Akase said that Jime was suffering from his loss in the governorship election and looming defeat in the coming re-run election.
According to the statement by the APC governorship candidate, Suswam was alleged to have, prior to the polls, activated his link with a section of the militia from his area recruited by the most wanted gang leader in the State, Terwase Akwaza aka Gana for the electoral fraud.
He said: “This militia helped him to intimidate and sacked voters from polling centres to pave way for massive multiple thumb printing and general rigging in the five wards of Gaambe Tiev section of his Logo Local Government area. Eventually, a cooked figure of over 30,000 votes was awarded to Ortom and the PDP while about 2,000 miserable votes were merely allocated to Jime and the APC.
“Same Suswam, we gathered on good authority, connived with the Resident Electoral Commissioner in Benue State and got only his blood relations and kinsmen of Shitile appointed as returning officers in the Benue Northeast senatorial district. We have the names of these returning officers, their relationship with him and will at the appropriate time, make the list known to the public.
“This also explained why with glaring manipulation of votes, gubernatorial and House of Assembly results from the Northeast part of the State and particularly, Sankera axis was not cancelled.
“All petitions written against these elections by our collation agents were ignored. The returning officers would always make sure they detach all petitions from form EC40(G) before submitting at the INEC office in Makurdi,” the statement said.
Meanwhile, Governor Samuel Ortom said that the outburst of the APC governorship candidate in the State, Emmanuel Jime was because he had lost the governorship election.
Ortom noted that with 81,554 result margin facing Jime, the defeated APC candidate knew he is at his wits’ end.
The Governor who spoke through his Chief Press Secretary, Terver Akase, explained that every Benue person was aware that APC tried to manipulate the March 9 polls in the State but failed because the people stood firmly behind Governor Samuel Ortom.
He challenged Jime to tender proof of his rigging claims against PDP, Ortom and Suswam stressing that Jime should be concerned about the public alarm raised over APC’s plot to thumbprint ballot papers during the March 23 election.
“Jime should tell us what he knows about the plot by APC to use militia parading in army uniform to intimidate voters during the supplementary election. He and Sen George Akume have been boasting about ‘federal might’ which they hope can help them thwart the will of Benue people.”
“Jime should answer questions over the case of his personal driver who was arrested with freshly minted notes running into millions of naira for vote-buying on the day of the last election in North Bank.”
“Lastly, Jime should explain to Benue people his pact with enemies of the State to cause a political crisis when Governor Ortom was declared the winner of the election,” Akase said