Saturday, February 20, 2016 12:44 pm
Accreditation of voters and voting have started in the rerun election in Benue South senatorial district, where a former student union activist, Daniel Onjeh is competing against former Nigerian Senate president, David Mark.
High voter turnout has been reported in many parts of the constituency.
Apart from the minor skirmishes in Edabi over the location of a polling unit that were promptly resolved, the exercise was peaceful.
Both accreditation and voting started between 9a.m. and 9.30a.m across the district.
Speaking to reporters in Otukpo, the Deputy Governor of Benue Mr Benson Abounu, claimed that the some skirmishes arose from alleged attempts by thugs to snatch ballot papers.
The 28 March 2015 election was cancelled by the Appeal Court and a rerun ordered.
Daniel Onjeh, is running on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, while Mark is running on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party. Mark had represented the constituency since 1999. Both candidates are from Otukpo LGA.
As Nigerians await the outcome of the polls, the resonating question is: Can Daniel Onjeh dethrone David Mark?
David Mark who voted today in his hometown of Otukpo, along with his wife, Helen had boasted that even if the election was conducted 100 times, he would win again and again. But Daniel and his supporters believe that he would be demystified today and trounced in the election.
Mark has had some stiff challenges at some election cycles. But with his PDP fully entrenched in the state and in Abuja, he always had his way, notwithstanding deep national suspicions that he always rigged the vote.
Some of the stiffest contests he had was against Usman Abubakar, alias Young Alhaji in 2003 and 2007.
In 2003, Young Alhaji contested against Mark, using the platform of the United Nigeria Peoples Party. INEC declared Mark the winner.
Young Alhaji believed he defeated the army general and went to court. The matter was settled with the intervention of Senator George Akume, who was the governor of the state then.
In 2007, Young Alhaji challenged David Mark again. Contesting on the ANPP platform, the daring man was again rigged out. He took his case to the court. After a long drawn battle, Mark’s election was voided by the tribunal in February 2008. But in a surprising twist, the court of appeal in Jos, upheld Mark’s election, voiding the order for rerun by the lower court.
Will Onjeh be Mark’s nemesis?
The answer will be known later today.
Mark served in the signal corps of the Nigerian army and was a former governor of Niger State. He was appointed communications Minister by the Babangida administration, but later went into exile after a regime changeover, with General Sani Abacha taking over from interim head of state, Ernest Shonekan in 1993. He is believed to be stupendously rich.