The Edo State government and the owner of Daar Communications, Raymond Dokpesi, on Sunday exchanged words over allegations of sponsoring attacks on voters in Edo.
A spokesperson for Governor Adams Oshiomhole in a message sent to PREMIUM TIMES accused Mr. Dokpesi of using soldiers to attack voters in the state.
The spokesperson, Peter Okhiria, quoted Mr. Oshiomhole as making the accusations while speaking to journalists in the state after casting his vote at Unit 1, Ward 10, Iyamho.
“To my surprise, the man that I respect so much, High Chief Raymond Dokpesi who I regard as a brother brought troops to Auchi, attacked women, beat up elderly people, attacked the electorate and disrupted elections at Auchi once they saw that the result being announced so far favoured APC and favoured Buhari,” Mr. Oshiomhole said.
The governor was quoted as saying he found it confusing that the media owner had access to soldiers for personal task.
“Dokpesi brought Army from nowhere. I don’t know when Dokpesi became commander in chief of the Army to have such rights,” he said.
However, Mr. Dokpesi denied the allegations and expressed surprise it was coming from the governor.
“My brother Comrade Adams could never have made the spurious allegations you claim he made against me. We come a very long way,” he said in a text message to PREMIUM TIMES.
Mr. Dokpesi said he was the person attacked by some APC leaders while he was leaving the Edo State.
“I am to formally inform you that on my way to Abuja this evening I went to see Hajia Hadizat Inu Umoru at Aibotse/Igbe primary school off Igbe Road in Auchi.
“One Magaji Usman -APC state vice chairman and Agbor attacked me at the location.
“They shot and threw stones at my vehicle. In order to avoid unnecessary bloodbath I pleaded with my armed escorts not to touch anyone,” the owner of Nigeria’s first private radio and television stations said.
“I have since reported to the Auchi Area Command.”
In his statement on Sunday, Mr. Oshiomhole also accused the military of working for Nigeria’s ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to intimidate voters.
“There are disturbing stories in many places. The Army has been used in a very criminal way to harass, intimidate and beat up voters in many units. For example at Fugar, our officers there were beaten up,” Mr. Oshiomhole said.
He said soldiers beat up many voters up in Fugar and also arrested the local government chairman. He said the chairman was taken away to the barracks on the orders of a General Odidi.
The statement also accused the Nigerian military of clamping down on civilian activities in Edo North Local Government Area, shutting all entry and exits points in the area from which Mr. Oshiomhole hails.
Some road users who were unaware of the situation were reportedly caught by the unannounced military action while some others were whipped or harassed by the soldiers from Saturday till early Sunday, the statement said.
While the Inspector-General of Police, Suleiman Abba announced a restriction of movement from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on election day, motorists trapped at a military checkpoint at Agbede, the gateway into Edo North bordering Ewu in Edo Central told reporters that the soldiers manning the checkpoint said they have orders to stop movement in and out of Edo North till midnight, the statement said.
The statement said journalists and electoral officials were also harassed by the soldiers.
Mr. Oshiomhole also accused popular Benin businessman, Gabriel Igbinedion, of violating the electoral law.
He accused Mr. Igbinedion, whose son is a former governor of the state, of luring voters with money on election day.
“In Ovia North East and Ovia South West, Chief Gabriel Igbinedion who is a registered voter in Oredo, today he has been everywhere in ovia North East and Ovia South West, sharing money on election day under the supervision of the Nigeria Police,” Mr. Oshiomhole was quoted as saying in the statement.
“As the Governor of Edo State, I have chosen to be here. It is the sensible thing to do, to obey the law. Yes, Igbinedion’s daughter may be contesting but that does not give him the right to move around,” the governor added.