Rose Ejembi, Makurdi and Ahmed Abubakar, Dutse
Several Benue youths, yesterday, stormed the streets of Makurdi, the Benue State capital, to protest the recent call by the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the deployment of military to the state for Saturday’s governorship and house of assembly elections.
The protest was sequel to another one, on Tuesday, by some youths of the APC to the Force Headquarters, in Abuja, calling for the deployment of more security personnel for the election.
Leaders of the APC in the state, including former governor, Senator George Akume, and the Jime Ode Campaign Organisation, had, in recent past, called for the deployment of more security personnel for the elections.
However, youths of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), yesterday, marched to the Benue Government House to register their displeasure at the deployment.
They bore various placards with inscriptions such as “we say no to militarisation of Benue”; “where was the military when our people were butchered by armed herdsmen”; “don’t use the military to rig Benue elections” and APC don’t drag the military into politics.”
Leader of the protesting youths and one of the founding members of the Movement Against Fulani Occupation, (MAFO) Pastor Dave Ogbole, said the request for the deployment of the military for election purposes is suspicious and smacks of an intention to strangulate the people and rig election.
“When the people of our state were subjected to unimaginable trauma, occasioned by ceaseless killings and sacking of Benue communities by armed herdsmen, those now calling for the military for election purposes failed to impress on the Federal Government to deploy the military to stem the killings.”
Governor Samuel Ortom, while receiving the protesting youths, noted that elections in the state have, so far, been peaceful and wondered why leaders of the APC were bent on using the military to subvert the coming election.
“All we demand is a level playing field for all the parties. We are going into the elections prepared, and for us, it is not a do-or-die affair, because we know and they also know that Benue is PDP, and the people will resist any attempt to subvert the process,” the governor said.
Meanwhile, the governorship candidate of the Social Democratic Party ( SDP) Alhaji Bashir Adamu, has declared the party’s decision to seek God’s intervention from potential election riggers.
Bashir alleged that over a billion naira was shared by the APC state government to canvass electorate’s votes during the just concluded presidential and national assembly elections in the state.
The SDP candidate, who spoke during a radio programme and monitored in Dutse yesterday, said both APC and PDP were culpable in the allegation of vote buying.