A panel dispatched by the national leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to conduct House of Assembly primaries in Adamawa State, has accused the governor, Bala Ngilari, of leading other state party members to intimidate its members, detain them for days, while state agents seized election materials and rigged in fake candidates.
In details filed at the party headquarters in Abuja, the panel said its members were harassed on the instructions of the governor, who demanded that they recognize his candidates or risk being attacked.
While the events unfolded, the committee said, security agents did nothing to assist them.
During one of the exchanges, the governor openly told the panel he could not guarantee the safety of its members, according to the details sent to PDP national chairman, Adamu Muazu.
The panel said throughout its stay in Yola, its members were not allowed to address the authentic candidates for the election.
They said the governor gave orders that they should not be allowed to go anywhere outside the presidential lodge where they stayed.
“We were constantly threatened, abused, harassed and even physically molested by thugs, the suspended PDP state chairman, suspended PDP state secretary, the PDP state organizing secretary as well as other agents of the governor,” the panel said.
In the end, the panel members said they were forced to address the media and deliver candidates backed by Mr. Ngilari, before being forced into a chartered aircraft with state agents who trailed them back to Abuja.
Journalists in Adamawa confirmed that there was confusion during the press briefing on Saturday, and that the chairman of the electoral panel, Tim Ihemadu, and his team, were compelled to announce the purported winners despite his refusal to do so.
Mr. Ihemadu and his team, have formally complained to the national leadership of the party, and have rejected the outcome of the election.
The spokesperson for PDP, Olisa Metuh, could not be reached Tuesday for comments on the decision of the party. He did not respond to telephone calls, and did not return them.
A spokesperson to Mr. Ngilari, Phineas Elisha, said the governor acted to ensure the safety of the team members. He denied they were attacked or harassed.
But Mr. Ihemadu and the secretary of the panel, Victoria Nyam-Isha, provided troubling details of their experience at the hands of the governor and officials of the PDP in Adamawa.
“We were practically kidnapped and held under house arrest from Saturday morning to Monday afternoon,” the panel said.
The team said on arrival in Yola on Saturday, its members were informed by the state acting chairman of the PDP, Jingi Rufai, and the acting Secretary, Fati Nyaro, who received them at the airport, they needed to meet the governor as the state leader of the party.
The team met with Mr. Ngilari, the Commissioner of Police, the Director State Security Service, and two officials of PDP in the state, the chairman, Joel Madaki, and secretary, A. T. Shehu, both on suspension.
The first sign of trouble came after the governor presented a court document requiring that Messrs Madaki and Shehu be recognised as chairman and secretary of the party respectively, and that a list of candidates different from what was approved in Abuja, be used for the elections.
The court paper was not served on PDP in Abuja, the panel said.
When pressed on that point, the team wrote, Mr. Ngilari warned that he could not guarantee their safety in the state if they failed to comply with the court orders, the petition sent by the panel states.
The panel said they were later driven to a hotel owned by Mr. Ngilari, where they met a large number of party officials and “thugs” who threatened them for not accepting Mr. Madaki and Mr. Shehu as party chairman and secretary.
The panel said their efforts to explain that they could only work with the materials given to them by the national secretariat of the party, who gave them the assignment, drew more anger and crowd.
“Some of the thugs began to physically molest Committee members including insults in the presence of policemen and officials of the party,” they said.
The election panel said Mr. Ngilari, thereafter, sent in some elders, who ferried them to the presidential lodge.
There, the situation was no different.