Ekiti: Cocktail Of Violence, Ballot-snatching And Large Voter Turn-out

In Ekiti State’s gubernatorial re-run election held in 63 wards, spread over 10 local government councils over the weekend, it was tales of impressive voter turnout, violence and ballot-snatching in several areas,  mixed with thuggery, machetes and controversy. LILLIAN AGIH gives an update :

At press time, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)  maintained a commanding lead  over its closest rival, the Action Congress (AC) – with 12,538. According to the results announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), PDP has so far scored 31,361 in six local government councils as against the AC’s 18,823 in the same number of council areas.Details of results announced so far by INEC National Officer, Dayo Soyebi are as follows:LG                           AC                 PDP                              Gboyin                   2,871            1,925Ekiti SW                355                 423Irepo Ifelodun      5,702             4,087Ise Orun               4,221              3,866Ijero                      1,881              5,121Ido-Osi                 3,793             15,939Though more results are being awaited, including from the riot-prone area of Oyin-Ekiti, the AC has rejected the result, particularly the result from Ido-Osi, where PDP scored 15,939 against AC’s 3,793.In a statement in Lagos, the party’s National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said the party rejects the Idi-Osi re-run, describing its result, “as an unimaginatively fabricated result that cannot stand any scrutiny. “The result from the Ido-Osi, which gave the PDP 15,939 votes against AC’s 3,793, is the most improbable result and could only have been made possible by sheer cooking of figures.“After collation of results from five local governments (Gboyin, Ekiti South-west, Irepodun-Ifelodun, Ise-Orun and Ijero), on Saturday, the AC had 15,026 and the PDP 15,420 votes, without counting AC’s existing credit of 11,000 votes”.AC explained, “Realizing the PDP’s deficiency with results from just four localgovernments remaining, the collation was suspended tillSunday. Overnight, however, the allegedly cooked results – said to have been collated in a police station without AC agents inattendance surfaced, with the PDP winning 15,939 in just one local government!“In fact, in one particular ward at Ido-Osi, the AC was disingenuously awarded a zero vote! Therefore, we say that the result from Ido-Osi – and consequently the overall outcome of the re-run, cannot stand; that we will not accept it, and that we will defend our votes with all lawful means necessary”.Though, Mohammed appealed to its supporters to remain calm, the party however warned that there is a limit to which people can continue to remain calm ‘when a rampaging band of thieves and desperate politicians assault their dignity by stealing their votes’.Therefore, AC he added is calling for the immediate cancellation of the Ido-Osi results and the institution of a probe into how such could have happened despite the pledge by INEC to ensure a level playing field for the two parties involved in the re-run.The party had on Saturday raised alarm indicating that uniformed policemen in an FRSC vehicle had snatched ballot materials and ballot boxes at a farm settlement in Ido-Osi local government.But an unnamed source in the PDP national secretariat told LEADERSDHIP last night that the party did its home work very well. “Remember that we had earlier set up a 25-man committee for the Ekiti re-run. So given that scenario, we don’t expect anything other than victory. For now we are closely monitoring events as it unfolds in that state. We are not going to respond to any wild allegation now until when the situation becomes clearer”.However, reports from our correspondents point to a near lawless situation is some areas, while in some others the election went peacefully. In Oye Ekiti, the INEC cancelled the election and fixed for yesterday (Sunday), but it was again re-scheduled for today.It would appear that supporters of PDP and AC ran riot, violently buffeting each other thus igniting a very chaotic situation in most areas that the elections were held. Places like Usi-Ekiti, Ijero, Ipoti-Ekiti, Igbemo-Ekiti, Odo-Ayedun, Igede-Ekiti and Iloro were said to have been marred by ballot snatching and brigandage. It was alleged that party chieftains masterminded the mayhem in their desperate bid to outmaneuver each other.These incidents were against the background of the ‘stringent’ measures reportedly put in place by Inspector General of police, Mr. Mike Okiro aimed at ensuring a hitch-free re-run in the Ekiti governorship race. The nation has  in the last twenty-four hours being awash with news of violence, even as a violent clash erupted yesterday, between AC and PDP supporters at the coalition centre, at Christ Girls School, Ado Ekiti.Reporting from the scene of violence, our correspondent reveals that guns and other weapons were used and bon fires built. The mayhem expectedly left many with serious bullet wounds, even as casualties are yet to be knownClosely related is the stampede at collation centre at 11.30p.m on Saturday when policemen fired tear-gas canisters to dispense the crowd who besieged the collation centre. Following this, 125 people, including thugs, alleged fake journalists and fake observers were arrested. LEADERSHIP however gathered that the alleged fake journalists were indeed journalists but they were not properly accredited.Many scampered for safety especially when Policemen fired shots into the air. An officer later warned that any body without genuine mission should vacate the collation centre.Earlier, DIG John Hamza Ahmadu, who directed the operation, disclosed that so far, 125 arrested thugs including politicians have been detained for interrogation at the state Police Headquarters in Ado-Ekiti.Our correspondent who visited the government hospital also reports that over 10 people who sustained injuries while trying to prevent the snatching of ballot boxes by politicians on Saturday night at Ido Ekiti, Ijero Ekiti and Ise Ekiti have been admitted for treatment.Speaking to LEADERSHIP, Senator Lawrence Agunbiade, an AC chieftain disclosed that he was attacked and matcheted by thugs while Senator Agunbiade who decamped to Ac from PDP said that he was attacked while mobilizing his people to vote. The foregoing, bellies the reports of violence which has translated the Ekiti re-run into a scene of blood-shed, rather than a place for the delivery of democratic promises as expected by indigenes of the state.

Earlier, the Action congress (AC) had pinned the eruption of violence on the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who according to them, are bent on sabotaging any attempt at a free and fair election.The accusation may not be unconnected to reports that the re-run was marred by violence in some wards which led to the arrest of no fewer than 61 people suspected to be thugs by the police.Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG), B Operations at Force Headquarters, Mr John Ahmadu, who confirmed that the suspects were arrested with “incriminating materials” said 36 suspects were arrested for instigating violence in Oye-Ekiti and were found to be possession of charms, bottles of alcohol and dangerous weapons. “So far, 36 people suspected to be thugs were arrested in Oye-Ekiti town in connection with the crisis that led to the postponement of election in two wards there,’’ he said, adding that 25 other suspects were also arrested by the police in other parts of the state for violent related offences during the election.Deputy IG also said the police had arrested four suspects that inflicted machete cuts on Senator Lawrence Agunbiade, at Ise-Ekiti.Reacting to the arrest, Senator Ayo Arinse, said the arrested suspects were not thugs, but his relatives and supporters.“I want to confirm to you that the arrested persons were my relations, friends and party supporters. They are not thugs. But I also want to tell you that it’s not possible for AC to win in Oye Ekiti”, he said.This may well explain why AC had on Saturday, accused Arise of marring elections in Oye Ekiti. It explained, “At Oye Ekiti Policemen in a Toyota Hilux truck marked ‘Oyo State Police Command’ abducted a monitor and attempted to take him to Senator Ayo Arise’s house. One person was killed in the ensuing chaos. It is important to mention that election in Oye Ekiti has been postponed till Sunday as Senator Ayo Arise has made peaceful voting impossible there”. AC further said the Senator was later arrested for masterminding violence. All these, are pointers to the fact that the re-run has indeed been anything but peaceful despite the presence of law enforcement agents.Prior to the election day, 10,000 officers were deployed to Ekiti, with Okiro threatening to prefer charges of felony against any policemen sighted at the polling stations without the special tags prepared by his office, warning that politicians and other Nigerians with Police security aides should not go to the stations with such aides.To avoid bias, the Ekiti State Police Commissioner, Chris Ola was asked to step aside and in his place, a Police Commissioner from the Force Headquaters in Abuja, Yakubu Alkali was put in charge of the election security.  Based on all these, Nigerians anticipated that a free, true and fair election in Ekiti will put to shame, enemies of democracy and peaceful elections. This seems not to be as the elections which commenced on Saturday has been hardly free, fair or peaceful.