By G9ija

Osagie Ize-Iyamu, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the September 19 governorship election Edo State, on Monday , said his party will not challenge the outcome of the exercise at the election petitions tribunal.

Mr Ize-Iyamu, however, said his party will pursue two pre-election cases already before the court to the fullest as part of efforts to challenge the victory of Godwin Obaseki, candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the election.

Mr Ize-Iyamu said the APC will pursue the cases to logical conclusions because the PDP also has 13 pre-election matters against his party.

The APC governorship candidate in the just-concluded election also said in a statement on Monday that contrary to media reports, the election was neither free nor fair, adding that there were several episodes of violence, voter intimidation and falsification of results.

Mr Obaseki was declared the winner of the contest by the Independent National Electoral Commission having polled 307,955 to defeat his Mr Ize-Iyamu, who had 223,619.

But Mr Ize-Iyamu said he decided not to commence an election petition to avoid further tension in the state.

He said the APC was mindful that its leadership and many well-placed individuals had made pronouncements endorsing the process, “which we have chosen to respect.”

Mr Ize-Iyamu said, “Contrary to orchestrated media reports, the election was neither free nor fair. There were several episodes of violence, voter intimidation, and falsification of results. In particular, there were unlawful cancellations of results particularly from Urhonigbe South and North in Orhionmwon, while results were falsified from many polling units in Ofunama in Ovia South West, and in parts of Ovia North East, Owan West, Oredo, Egor, Ikpoba-Okha, Esan North East, Esan West, Esan South East, and Uhunmwode Local Government Areas.

“Sadly, two persons were killed during the election, while gun-wielding thugs took over collation centres in many locations without the intervention of law-enforcement agents. There were also several cases of malfunctioning card readers, which disenfranchised duly registered voters, in addition to many cases of unregistered voters voting with pre-purchased voters’ cards not collected by their actual owners.

“These malpractices could easily form the basis to challenge the election results. We have however decided not to commence an election petition. This is to avoid further tension in the state. We are also mindful that the leadership of our great party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), and many well-placed individuals have made pronouncements endorsing the process, which we have chosen to respect.

“Nonetheless, we must emphasise that elections are far more than actual voting, just as democracy includes more than just elections. It is in this light that we draw attention to the fact that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its flag bearers have continued to pursue several pre-election suits in various courts against us, all totalling 13. One such case came up in the High Court, Benin on 2nd October 2020, days after the election.”

“On our part, we had filed two pre-election cases against the PDP and its flag bearer challenging their eligibility to contest the election. These are all lawful and integral parts of the electoral process in any democracy, which we must all respect and acknowledge as genuine democrats.

“The outcome of these pending cases has a direct effect on the election. Consequently, we have decided to continue with our pre-election cases in full exercise of our legal rights, just as our opponents have considered it their prerogative to also continue with their pre-election cases against us.”

Mr Ize-Iyamu thanked President Muhammadu Buhari for his statesmanship and support throughout the election period.