Aida-Nath Ogwuche, a female aspirant for Ogbadibo Constituency in Zone C for the Benue State House of Assembly on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has narrated how she was stripped naked during the primary election in her state.
Ogwuche, who spoke to NAN, said the election was marred by irregularities.
She accused her opponents of using thugs to intimidate and harrass her as well as her supporters during the September 29 election, alleging that they carried out the action because she is female.
Her words: “Before we went into the stadium where the primary election took place, my agent, my coordinators and some key persons in my campaign team were threatened.
“Some thugs were looking for my agent Adolowu Lawani, while a few of them walked straight to the vice-chairman of my ward and the women leader and told them that they will chop off their fingers if they voted for me; they were threatened right there outside the stadium when they were on the queue.
“The thugs went as far as warning my campaign coordinator; I was standing with him but they never knew I was the lady aspirant. They even mentioned the name of the leader of their group, and said that he sent them to warn him, and at this point I began to fear for my life and everything.
“When we went inside, we discovered that the delegate list had been changed. The list that was used was not the original list sent from Abuja which they used for the governorship.
“Also, when it was the turn of Ogbadibo delegates cast their votes, I heard the leader of the party in the local government, Chris Adabba Abba, saying he was going to stand as the agent of my opponent and that everyone should not vote by themselves but hand the ballot to him to write on behalf of all. At this point, I sensed the process had been hijacked, because, as our leader, he has undue influence on the delegates.
“To make good his plans, he (Abba) stood as the agent of my opponent and was snatching ballot papers from delegates to write the name of the aspirant who is his cousin. And when my agent (Lawani) raised observation and confronted him, he threatened to slap him, and the whole situation became chaotic and the electoral officers threatened to suspend the process.
“I saw a large crowd gather against my agent and I got closer, I saw some boys hitting him and before I knew it, they pounced on me; they beat me up mercilessly, tore my clothes and stripped me naked in public right there in the stadium. They also punched my eyes and pulled my hair.
“This was what I faced. All these bullying, harassment and intimidation, just because some people feel more entitled to hold this position than myself. This is unacceptable. I’m calling on all authorities out there and good Nigerians to look into this situation. This cannot continue to go on; the ill-treatment against female folk must stop and this is where it stops."
However, Hon. Idoko Ojo, alias Ojotu, Chairman of Aiodo Ward 1, where Ogwuche comes from, held a different view on the conduct of the primary.
He said: “On that fateful day, our party delegates voted peacefully and there was no form of violence, harassment or intimidation.
“Our people respect the zoning arrangements existing in our constituency a lot; that was why some of us advised Aida to wait till it gets to the turn of our own district to go to the House of Assembly, but she refused. She kept thinking that she could do magic to win but the reality was that she lost out."
He also alleged he was being threatened by suspected cultists, who he claimed were sent by the aspirant to recover the money she gave to delegates during the primary election.
“I got a phone call by an unknown caller and I asked to know the identity of the person. But he told me not to bother about his name. He asked me if I was ‘Ojotu’ and I said yes. He said he was directed to arrange all the money that Aida gave to me and send back to him.”
According to Ojo, when he insisted on putting Aida on a conference call, the caller refused and instead asked that he be given time to call Aida and get back to him.
He continued: “He called me back after about 30 minutes to inform that Aida was angry that I didn’t vote for her despite coming from her ward. I told him that this is politics and in our place we respect zoning. And since it was not our turn, we cannot support her.
“I advised her before the election to retrace her steps, work for the party and wait for the turn of our people and that by the law of natural justice, we will reciprocate by supporting her but all these advise fell on deaf ears."
Also speaking on the matter, Lawrence Oko, Chairman of Owukpa Ehaje Ward 2, in a telephone interview with NAN vowed to take legal action against Ogwuche if she continued to accuse party leaders in the area.
He said: “I am compelled to say that the zoning arrangement did not favour her constituency, because the incumbent legislator is from her ward, so, it greatly affected her chances in the election.
“She polled 52 votes, while Peter Enemari who was eventually declared the winner, garnered 79 votes. There was no form of protests, crisis, disputes or violence over the outcome and that was why we were shocked when she complained about the outcome of the election at the PDP National Secretariat and was also going to the media to tarnish the image of our party.
“She massively doled out cash to lure some of the delegates to vote for her and I believe that was where her problem started because she tried to collect the money back from those whom she felt disappointed her.”
He, however, noted that efforts had been made to resolve the issue with Ogwuche family members.
Also, PDP Woman Leader in Ogbadibo Local Government Area, Hon. Eloyi Onekele, dismissed Ogwuche’s claim.
She said: “How can she claim that a fake delegate list was used for the election, whereas it was the same delegate list that was used for governorship, Senate and House of Representatives primary elections.
“It is also good for our party leaders and indeed, the general public to know that both the Senate, House of Representatives and House of Assembly primaries were held at the same venue, same time and concurrently for six out of the nine Local Government Areas that make up Zone C. So, there is no basis for anybody to believe Ogwuche’s allegation that a fake delegate list was used for the election."