FIVE days to the governorship election in Ondo State, youths n the state, on Monday invaded the headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC) in Akure, calling for postponement of the election for two weeks
The protest, which came ahead of the Supreme Court decision on the dispute over the authentic candidate between Eyitayo Jegede and Jimoh Ibrahim in the Saturday governorship election.
The Justice Ibrahim Saulawa led Appeal panel sitting in Abuja had adjourned its judgement indefinably to await the decision of the Supreme Court on the interlocutory appeals filed by the respondents.
Jegede who belonged to the Ahmed Markafi faction of PDP in the State is challenging his replacement as the candidate of the party by INEC and replacing him with Humph Ibrahim.
However, the Supreme Court is expected to sit today to decide on the petition brought before it in order to allow the appeal judge give its judgement on the matter.
But pending the ruling, the youths in the state trooped to the streets of Akure, the state capital, on Monday morning calling for the inclusion of the name of the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Eyitayo Jegede in the election, urging the electoral umpire to give more time to accommodate Jegede in the race.
The protesting youths specifically said the call became imperative to allow the Appeal Court to conclude the case before it on the authentic candidate of the PDP in the election
Armed with placards of various inscription such as: No Jegede, no election, don’t create discord out of order, We resist all attempt to tamper with democracy, we say no to interference, stop the ongoing tyranny , defend your integrity among others, called on Federal Government to wade into the matter before it is too late.
It however took the intervention of the security operatives in the state, which include, men of the state Police Command, and National Security and Civil Defence Corp (NSCDC) to put the protesting youths under control.
The protesters vowed not to vacate the office of the electoral umpire unless the Commission promises to put the election on hold to allow Jegede contest in the election
Speaking on behalf of the youths, Oluwatuyi Adekanmbi, said the youths across the state were protesting against the decision of the INEC to go on with the election without waiting for the outcome of the suit pending before the Appeal Court.
He explained that the protest was going on simultaneously across the 18 local government area of the state.
According to him, it will amount to rape of democracy if the INEC cleared a member of the party as the party’s candidate for the governorship election in the state.
He said “We are liberal in Ondo State, not that we are coward. We are calling on INEC and all the power that be, not to sweep this matter under the carpet.
“We want justice to prevail; the Federal Government should encourage the youths by laying good examples and allow the law to decide the real authentic candidate.
“This election cannot go on without Jegede name as the PDP candidate, Jimoh Ibrahim is not a member of our party and cannot be our candidate.
“If they decided to go on with this conspiracy, it will not work. Youths in Ondo State collectively call for justice and will vehemently oppose this.
“The candidacy of any party cannot be won through the backdoor. Eyitayo Jegede emerged through the normal process to emerge as the candidate of the party and any attempt to impose any other candidate on us in the state will cause chaos.
“If they refuse to give us the man of the people, this election will not hold in this state and we are going to fight this with the last drop of our blood.”
However, the state Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), while speaking to the protesting youths commended them for peaceful protest and not taking laws into their hands.
He assured the youths that if there is any superior court order to replace the PDP candidate in the election, the commission will not hesitate to act appropriately.