The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to pay special attention to Lagos State in ensuring free, fair and credible elections, alleging manipulation of collection of the Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs).
The Lagos State PDP Publicity Secretary, Mr Hakeem Amode, at a news conference on Monday, decried an alleged manipulation, oppression and intimidation of voters by the ruling APC in the state ahead of the polls.
Amode, also the Chairman, Media, and Publicity, JandorFunke 2023 Governorship Campaign, urged the President and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to forestall all electoral frauds.
“The manipulation has reached a proportion where it is now being aided by the state government apparatus and we found it imperative to call your attention to it.
“We are aware of the ruling APC government officials using their position to collect voters’ information and requesting the submission of photocopies of Permanent Voter Cards – PVC as a prerequisite for work permits in transport parks and trading in the markets.
“We view these directives and actions as hoodwinking and an attempt by the ruling APC government to manipulate the 2023 election ahead,” the spokesman said.
According to him, in consonance with Buhari’s promise to deliver a credible election as seen recently in Ekiti and Osun gubernatorial elections, the party appeals to the President to do same in Lagos state.
“We are using this opportunity to call the attention of the President, the Chairman of INEC and the Inspector General of Police to the voter’s manipulation anomalies currently going on in Lagos state,” he said.
According to him, PDP campaigns in the state have suffered several onslaughts and attacks but the party remains resolute in mobilising the grassroots voters.
Amode said: “We believe the people have a say in who will be elected to form a government and the sanctity of their choice should be respected and protected under the electoral law and process.
“We have had our ward tour campaign threatened in the Alimosho area by gangs of hoodlums working for the state agency.
“Our ward campaign tour entourage was attacked by the same group of hoodlums working for that same agency in the Badagry area of the state,” he added.
Amode recounted that hoodlums attacked PDP campaign team during a road show at Mile 2 and two of its members hospitalised after sustaining various machete injuries.
According to him, in Alimosho and Apapa Local Government Areas, market women were threatened and intimidated to submit the souvenirs the party gave to them.
“We found this absurd because the apron we gave them is to aid their trade.
“We found this directive inimical to a free and fair election and also another attempt by the ruling party in Lagos state to manipulate the 2023 elections,” he added.
Amode said the PDP was also aware of the removal of its banners from the highways and replacing them with that of the ruling party.
“We believe the sustenance of our democracy depends largely on respecting the choice of the people in a free and fair election. Let us protect our nascent democracy, our innocent voters and our future,” he said.
Amode added that some INEC staff were aiding and colluding with the ruling party in the manipulation of PVCs distribution in the state.
Meanwhile, in a swift reaction, Mr Seye Oladejo, the Lagos APC Publicity Secretary, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that PDP should rather look inward on its allegations and could also approach relevant authorities to seek redress on any matter.
“The PDP can approach the relevant law enforcement agencies whenever they feel their rights are being trampled upon rather that embark on fruitless media onslaught for cheap political gain.
“They are also advised to look inward and address their intractable crisis which has polarised the party beyond repair.
“It is also imperative to operate within the laws of the state as regards the placement of out-door advertisements rather than resort to arm-twisting tactics,” Oladejo said.
He said the APC in Lagos state had been busy campaigning to all and sundry and to all the nooks, corners and crannies of the state.
According to him, the ruling party’s robust campaign has ensured that APC remains the only visible party in the state as far as awareness for the forthcoming elections are concerned.
“Voters in Lagos state are already wary of the antics of the PDP, whose stock in trade is wild and unsubstantiated allegations to confuse an undiscerning public,” he added
Similarly, Mr Olusegun Agbaje, INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner in Lagos state, said the allegations were untrue and unfounded, saying no person could vote with another person’s PVC on election day.
On allegation that some people were denied PVCs, Agbaje said that PVCs were not produced for all applicants who engaged in multiple registration nationwide, urging PDP to come out clear in all its allegationsnan.