Amid threats from security forces ahead of today’s election in Ondo State, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Friday said the stage is set for eligible voters to choose the next governor of the state from among the 28 candidates participating in the election.
While the police and INEC warned troublemakers to stay clear of today’s election, the state governor, Olusegun Mimiko at a press conference talked tough, claiming that the system had been rigged against his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The Resident Electoral Commission (REC), Segun Agbaje, said all sensitive materials had been dispatched to all the 18 local government areas of the state while the officials and ad hoc staff of the Commission would move to their various local governments and units.
He said that every eligible voter shall be accredited and immediately receive the ballot paper and proceed to vote without a break while he maintained that the means of accreditation remained through the use of Smart Card Reader ( SCR).
He said “ we have been assured of adequate security by the Nigerian Police as the lead agency in election security. We had a meeting of the inter Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security where elaborate deployment and operational plan was agreed upon.
“This involves early and adequate deployment for general security as well as specific deployment for the protection of staff and material from our state Headquarters to the 18 local governments.
“We have been assured by the security agencies that any act contrary to the provision of the Electoral Act will be promptly dealt with. This is without prejudice to the right of citizens who may wish to stay some distance away from the polling units after voting to witness the counting of ballots,” he said.
According to a record made available by the electoral commission, about 1.2m voters will participate in today’s voting exercise across the 18 local government areas in the state, saying over 55 percent of the voters are youths between the age of 18 and 50.
In terms of security, the state Police Commissioner, Hilda Harrison said that robust and elaborate security arrangement was being implemented to ensure the peaceful conduct of the election.
Harrison said the Inspector General of Police had approved the deployment of additional 26,000 conventional policemen to the state,with 2,000 Mobile Policemen, 10 cells of counter terrorism unit, Marine police and sniffer dogs and horses as part of efforts to ensure that the election is free of crimes and other criminal activities.
The police boss also said that three helicopters, (one for each senatorial district) would be used for surveillance during the election while about 20 police gunboats, 12 additional Armoured Personnel Carriers (APC) and 300 patrol vehicles would be used for the election. He added that the police will be working in collaboration with other sister security agencies in the state.
Also speaking, the State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRo) Femi Joseph, said the Inspector General of Police has provided everything required to ensure the success and peaceful conduct of this election.
He said anything that had to do with security measures has been put in place, disclosing that the DIG Operations, Josak Abila had been drafted to the state for the special assignment and would be assisted by two AIGs and three Commissioners of Police, one for each senatorial district.
Joseph said the borders of the state would be closed by 8pm while men of the command would be stationed around the state to conduct stop and search to ensure that nobody entered the state with any incriminating item.
He said “ I want to warn the people, most especially those who have negative intents that we are out for them and we will not hesitate to deal with anyone trying to truncate the process of this election.
“By 12am Saturday (today), there will be total shut down of the boundary, movement of vehicles will be restricted during the election too, from 6am to 8pm, because we realised that election at times usually drags into the night.”
Ondo election: Mimiko alleges plot by INEC to declare preconceived results
Governor Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State on Friday raised the alarm that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was about to foist injustice on the people of the state, allegedly by preparing to declare preconceived results in the governorship election.
Addressing a press conference in Akure, on Friday, the governor accused INEC of acting the scripts of some forces within the All Progressives Congress (APC) to prevent the emergence of a credible and electable candidate for PDP in the state.
Mimiko further alleged that some ad hoc staff of INEC had been imported into the state to perpetrate illegalities in the election, allegedly in favour of the candidate of APC, Rotimi Akeredolu.
“We have just been told that the same team of election ad hoc staff, which masterminded the largely controversial Edo election, have been sent to our state to deliver a preconceived result for Mr Rotimi Akeredolu, the APC candidate.
“I have to state this here and now, that our people will not accept the method and process unleashed on Edo. We reject unequivocally the mission of this team in our state.
“The Edo team did not only call off collation by 9pm on election day, party agents, monitors and journalists were ordered out of the collation centres, allowing for final subversion of the will of the electorate. We shall not allow such an ungodly process to be repeated in our dear state.
“But we must say that the above is not all that INEC and those who want a particular candidate to emerge have done. Efforts have been concerted by INEC and forces within the APC to prevent the emergence of a credible and electable candidate for the PDP in Ondo State”, he said.
Recalling the genesis of the said plans, the governor alleged that the APC forces connived with the party to edge out the PDP candidate “in flagrant disregard of extant laws governing elections, removed the name of Eyitayo Jegede on the basis of a Justice Okon Abang order that has since been declared as a fraud by the Supreme Court.”
He said there was no justification in seeking to substitute the name of the PDP candidate by INEC in the first instance, saying Jegede, who emerged through a party primary conducted under a free, fair and open environment and witnessed by INEC, was removed as the candidate of the party and substituted his name with Jimoh Ibrahim.
Mimiko said, this was done despite all the advice from the consortium of lawyers in the legal department of INEC, and urged the commission not to substitute Jegede’s name.
“Several other hurdles were placed on the ways of the PDP candidate, Eyitayo Jegede, to the extent that he did not become a candidate until about 48hrs to election, on the directive of the Court of Appeal”, he alleged.
Mimiko said the voters register in the election was presented to Jegede some 48 hours to the election, contrary to the Electoral Act which stated that the register should be presented to all candidates 30 days before the election.
“INEC did not release the list of voters register to PDP until yesterday (Thursday), in clear infraction of its own laws and against its advertised ‘Time Table and Schedule of Activities’ for the Ondo election. INEC refused to publish Eyitayo Jegede’s name for 30 days as stipulated in Section 34 of the Electoral Act 2010”, he said.
Mimiko, however, urged the people of the state to monitor their votes and should not allow APC and INEC to perpetrate illegalities in the state, adding, “We shall not take this injustice staring at our face. We have been treated like slaves in our own country. INEC is being foisted to subvert its own electoral process.”
He said the electoral commission was empowered by the Electoral Act to postpone or shift the election, adding that the commission can conduct the governorship election a month to the expiration of the current administration in order to assuage the feelings of those who had been injured.
Mimiko should stop making inflammatory statements —INEC
Reacting to the allegation by Governor Mimiko that INEC was biased and sentimental by refusing to postpone today’s governorship poll, the Resident Electoral Commissioner in Ondo State, Mr Ousegun Agbaje said: “INEC has no interest in any particular candidate and it is wrong to say we are protecting the interest of anybody. I don’t know Akeredolu, Oke or Jegede”.
While chiding the governor and asking him to desist from making inflammatory statements, he asserted that “ PDP ought to have put its house in order before now. What of the other 26 political parties, should they share in the crisis of the other. If a footballer has injury, will the match be changed”.
Agbaje continued, “how can one political party hold us to ransom?. We even mediated in their internal crisis, but to no avail. It is not our fault. They are only whipping up sentiments. It is not good for the Chief Executive of a state to make such a statement. He should create an atmosphere of peace and harmony.
Also, a civil society organisation, the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room, has said political parties calling for the postponement of the election are running against the electoral process.
The convener of the group, Clement Nwakwo, said there was no justification for the shifting of the election, noting that all political parties participating in the election have shown their readiness for the election.
According to the group, all the political parties were given adequate notice of the election saying the internal crisis within a party should not be allowed to affect the timeline for the election.
The group, however, urged political parties and their candidates to conduct themselves in a way that would not trigger violence or obstruct the conduct of the election.
INEC should have postponed election —PDP Reps caucus
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Caucus of the House of Representatives (PDP House Caucus), on Friday, said that votes of the electorate should count as the governorship election holds in the state, today.
The caucus, however, said the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) should have postponed the election to give ample opportunity to the PDP flag-bearer to appeal to the electorate through campaigns.
INEC, it will be recalled had earlier recognised Mr Jimoh Ibrahim as the PDP candidate for the election before the Court of Appeal, in Abuja, ordered the electoral body to list Mr Eyitayo Jegede as the party’s candidate.
A statement issued by the leader of the PDP Caucus, Minority Leader, Honourable Leo Ogor said, “We had hoped that the Independent National Electoral Commission would consider the logical reasons being advanced for such an extension, in the strict interest of fair play and justice”.
On the need for votes to count, he said, “Nonetheless, we find it necessary to draw attention to needless shenanigans, desperate scheming and unimaginable manipulations that had been engineered by the ruling APC, its known appendages and its unseen hands towards crushing the will of the people in Ondo state by all means”.
The PDP Caucus then commended the three-member panel of Appeal Court judges, led by Ibrahim Salauwa, for pointing out that the ruling by Justice Okon Abang, on October 14, on the PDP crisis in relation to Ondo was a complete “fraud”.
The PDP caucus equally applauded the Supreme Court’s assertive decision that all pending cases relating to the dispute over the leadership issues of the PDP be referred back to the Court of Appeal, Abuja.
Kwara PDP prays for Eyitayo Jegede
Members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Kwara State have thanked God for the judicial victory of the party’s governorship candidate in Ondo State, Eyitayo Jegede.
In an interdenominational thanksgiving prayer session in Ilorin, on Friday, the PDP members praised God “for not allowing evil to prevail over good in this country.”
Speaking with journalists after the prayer session, the factional chairman of the party, Prince Sunday Fagbemi, said that Nigerians needed to be prayerful to avoid a repeat of political crisis of the past.
“Given the benefit of hindsight, we knew what happened in 1983. A replica of the same is about happening in Ondo State, if not that God has given the judges of the Supreme and Appeal Courts the courage to be able to adjudicate with the fear of God, we don’t know what will be happening in Ondo state now. May be anarchy would have broken out and that can truncate this nascent democracy,” he said.
Speaking on the role of the Federal Government in the PDP crisis, the PDP chairman said, “Even a blind man would know that the voice was that of Jacob while the hand was the hand of Esau. We have seen clearly that there is connivance between the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led Federal Government and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ensure that they muzzle PDP and if possible they want to get it into extinction which God has not allowed”.
Prince Fagbemi, however said the two factions of PDP in the state would soon be united, adding that a lot of things were being done.
“We have seen now that Senator Modu Sheriff and his group are almost being part of history. It is the same thing that will happen here in Kwara state. But you will see that I have exercised extreme restraints to make sure not to say anything that will make our coming together difficult. I know we are members of the same family and even others have been wanting to join us. But if one refuses to be a sheep and the other behaves like a goat we will not be able to come together. But I know that God who is doing what is happening in Nigeria will do ours in the state”, he said.