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How Arise won Ekiti senatorial re-run

By Gbenga Ariyibi, Ado Ekiti
The much awaited re-run election into Ekiti North Senatorial District has come and gone , but the lessons learnt during the election would for long continue to reverberate in the minds of the people of the state, especially the stakeholders

It may be recalled that the Saturday’s senatorial re-run election was sequel to the judgement of the Court of Appeal, Ilorin Zone which had affirmed the decision of the lower tribunal headed by Justice Bukar Bwala which has earlier ordered a re-run election having nullified the victory of Chief Ayo Arise, a business mogul turned politician

It may be recalled that the Action Congress (AC) senatorial candidate for Ekiti North , Mr Bunmi Odetunbi, a retired banker had dragged Arise to the tribunal on the ground that the election that brought him to the upper chambers of the National Assembly was marred with sharp electoral mal-practices, urging the tribunal to nullify Arise’s victory at the poll and at the same time sought an order that the Independent National Electoral Commission [INEC] be directed to organise a re-run election in the senatorial district

Though, the August 15, re-run election was marred with electoral mal practices in most of the five local governments of Ido/Osi, Ilejemeje, Oye , Moba,and Ikole where the re-run took place, but it went on smoothly in some places

Interestingly, on the eve of the election, the commission through its Deputy Secretary Operations, Abdul Rahmon Madaki had admitted publicly a major defect in some of the electoral materials to be used for the following day exercise. He admitted that some document were defective, as some according to him were serialised, others were not

It appeared the electoral body was not prepared fully for the job of organising a free and fair election, for instance observers/ monitors were denied accreditations, while many visits to the INEC office in Ado Ekiti, the state capital by journalists resident in the state to INEC office , asking for the accreditations of their members yielded no fruit, as INEC officials categorically told newsmen even on the eve of the election that there would be no accreditation for journalists. The simple meaning to this was ‘’everybody to himself, God for all ‘’, that is , any erring journalist would be treated as an outcast or unwanted person

Besides this, the commission wittingly or unwittingly ensured that some voters were denied the opportunity of voting for the candidates of their choice, by ensuring that voters register for polling unit A miraculously finds its way to unit B

For considerable number of hours ,voters could not exercise their voting rights. It was so appalling that Chief Femi Akinyemi, the chairman of the Local Government Service Commission in the state told newsmen at about 11.30 am at the Federal Science and Technical College, Usi Ekiti where he was suppose to vote that the electorate in the area may request INEC to extend the voting time for them.

But the AC spokeman, Yemi Adaramodu has linked this to INEC’s tactical way of denying their members in their strongholds from voting

Adaramodu in a statement said the non-supply of electoral materials to places like Ayetoro,Iloro, Osi etc by the INEC was deliberately done by the INEC in connivance with the PDP to deny the AC members from voting in the places considered to be strongholds of the party

One other factor that seems to show the bias of the police was its inability to control the thugs and hoodlums who took over the affairs in Ifaki town throughout the period the election lasted

At Ifaki where both Engr Segun Oni and Olu Adetunbi come from, it was a theatre of war, the political thugs were shooting indiscriminately in all directions, while the burning of properties, especially vehicles of perceived enemies were done without a check

One would have expected that more policemen with sophisticated weapons would be deployed to places regarded as ‘trouble spots’ as it was done in May 6, gubernatorial re-run in Oye

It was not surprising therefore that political thugs, hoodlums and miscreants were having a upper day at Ifaki, even the ‘ lords’ at Ifaki attacked journalists for ‘’daring to write negative stories the way they did during the last gubernatorial re-run. It was so bad that newsmen were given a matching order to leave Ifaki now ‘’in your own interest ‘’ or face the consequences’’

Closely related to this was the arrest of the AC senatorial candidate, Mr Adetunmbi at Ifaki while the election was going on by the acting police commissioner in the state, Mr Febian Osiji and the arrest of former Secretary to the State Government,[SSG] during the regime of Ayo Fayose, Evang. Adeola Alofe and others over a framed up allegations. This was probably a way of whittling down the power of opposition so as to give the ruling PDP an undue advantage

Though the AC candidate is a well respected gentleman who is qualified by all standard to contest the most exalted position, but unfortunately he was handicapped in many fronts. For one, Arise could have exploited the deep influence he had gathered both as a big time businessman and as a lawmaker in the National Assembly to mobilise enough support for himself.

It is interesting to note that until perhaps the last minutes, only a few members of the AC had really showed serious commitment to the course of the party’s candidate, the reason for this was not far fetched. He was said to have dumped his party at the most crucial moment, during the last gubernatorial re_run when he was advised by the leadership of his Ifaki community not to come near his home during the re-run election. He was said to have fallen prey to such an ill advice and did not come to his hometown to lend support to the course of his party

Perhaps,it may not be the end of the road for the Agric Economist graduate, but it was not clear as at the time of going to the press whether the AC would be willing to challenge the result at the tribunal. The Director of Communications, Kayode Fayemi Campaign Organisation, Yemi Adaramodu said such a decision would be taken by the leadership of the party when they meet to review the outcome of one of the most controversial election in recent time


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