Protest rocks Ondo INEC over House of Assembly election
•PDP, ADC, AAC, ANRP demand cancellation of election
Political class from different parties in Ondo kingdom, on Tuesday, invaded the state headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Akure, Ondo state capital, to register their grievances over the irregularities, violence and manipulation of the last Saturday House of Assembly election in the state.
The protesters from four opposition parties, who participated in the election which included, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) African Democratic Congress (ADC) African Action Congress (AAC) and Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party (ANRP), described the election as exhibition of large scale violence disturbances and rape of people’s mandate across the kingdom.
The protesters including youths, market men and women, which were armed with placards of various inscriptions, chanting unprintable words against some political leaders in the kingdom, called on INEC to cancel the results of the election in the interest of justice.
The protesters who blocked the main entrance of the INEC office in Alagbaka area of Akure, prevented the free flow of traffic in the area for several hours, kicked against the outcome of the March 9 House of Assembly elections in the kingdom
Speaking on behalf of the protesters, former Commissioner for Information in the state and a Chieftain of PDP, Chief Segun Adegoke, asked for the cancellation of the election, calling for the rerun in all the three state constituencies of Ondo East and West Local Government area of the State.
Adegoke who cited intimidation, bribing of electorate and act of brigandage during the election said electorate were denied opportunity to choose who should represent them in the assembly, while hoodlums chased out voters from the polling units.
In the petition addressed to the Resident Electoral Commission (REC), the four political parties alleged an unholy alliance between the state governor, Mr Rotimi Akeredolu, saying the governor connived with Zenith Labour Party (ZLP) to manipulate the election results in the two council areas in favour of the candidates of APC and (ZLP.
According to him, the collaboration between APC and ZLP to balkanize Ondo kingdom is irregular and illegal and would be resisted by all lawful means of the INEC failed to correct the injustice.
He said the parties would challenge the outcome in the law court if INEC refuses to cancel the election results.
“The electorate, particularly the working class, the peasant, the labourers, the domestic servants who tried and struggled to eke out a living, lining up quietly as commanded by INEC to cast their votes, it is disheartening that young thugs, armed with guns, knives and all sorts of dangerous weapons scared away the electorate from polling units.
“The people were thoroughly intimidated and harassed, some of the agents were abducted, many were physically attacked and others chased away. It was an eye-sore to behold, young men who are regarded as leaders of tomorrow, brandishing guns and wielding cutlasses menacingly.”
Adegoke said the opposition political parties in Ondo kingdom rejected the outcome and asked the INEC to cancel the election in the spirit of fairness, equity and justice.
But the ZLP in the state described the allegation as not only false but unfounded, saying the party will not partake in any action that would disrupt the democratic process.
The Chairman of ZLP in the state, Hon. Wale Gbakinro, said the allegation was an attempt to discredit the process of the election that produced the candidate of ZLP as the winner in the contest.
He said “we wish to state categorically that our great party, the ZLP was in no way connected to the said allegations being maliciously peddled around in the media.
We are a peace-loving political party that was founded on social democratic ethos. This has been our watchword and the greatest interest of the greatest number of people is our priority at all times
“It is also important to let the public know that electorates were seen in all wards, voting freely for candidates of their choice. It is therefore blatant falsehood that some individuals who have been known to be professional political merchants and troublemakers in the kingdom have decided yet again to use this as a weapon to blackmail our party and cause unwarranted disturbances in Ondo kingdom.
“We advise them to stop the mischievous tendencies and approach the court of competent jurisdiction to seek legal redress if they genuinely have any case. Our party is focused on delivering on our campaign promises and our goal is to continue to raise Ondo state to an enviable height as we have always done”
Similarly, the state Publicity Secretary All Progressives Congress (APC), Alex Kalejaye, said the allegation is not only fraudulent, baseless and unfounded; “it is incongruous with the anti-corruption stance of the APC-led government.”
Kalejaye who described PDP as a bad loser said the election should be seen as a gauge of strength and popularity, saying “PDP should stop crying wolf where there is none”
He said “The election in the State was largely and reasonably fair and peaceful, except in a few local government areas”
He also alleged that the election in Idanre was heavily militarised, saying “the PDP used its influence to turn the peaceful town to a theatre of war. The entire place was militarized.
“The result of the above was that members of APC were maimed, brutalized, harassed, intimidated, and scared away from performing their legitimate assignment.
“We call on the military command to investigate the roles played by its officers before and during the House of Assembly election in Idanre, and ensure appropriate sanction.”
Meanwhile, father of a 26-year-old boy, Ebenezer Adegboyega Adetokunbo, from Ward 9, in Ondo West council has raised alarm over the disappearance of the son during the Saturday election.
According to the father of the boy, Mr Rufus Adegboyega Adetokunbo (65), who was among the protesters said the whereabouts of the boy has remained unknown
The father explained that his son left home to cast his vote around Ayeyemi Junction in Ondo City and never returned home, but said some pieces of information reaching him suggested that some armed men in military uniform waylaid him and whisked him away.
“I am begging INEC and Ondo State government to help me search for my son; Ebenezer is an easy going child and he only went out to exercise his civic right as a responsible and patriotic Nigerian,” he said