By Wahab Abdulah, Dapo Akinrefon, Gbenga Ariyibi and Olayinka Ajayi
IN SPITE of the violence that trailed the campaigns, the Ekiti governorship election was held peacefully, yesterday, across the 16 local government areas of the state.
Apart from minor hitches observed in some polling units, the election was generally peaceful.
The three leading candidates, Governor Fayemi of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Hon. Opeyemi Bamidele of the Labour Party (LP) and Mr Ayo Fayose of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), hailed the conduct of the poll by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) although Fayemi decried the presence of PDP leaders in the state and the alleged attempted abduction of APC leaders.
As the results began to trickle-in from different parts of the state, late yesterday, the figures, though unofficially, showed Fayose jumping into early lead.
Reports said the PDP candidate won with a wide margin in almost all the 13 wards in Ado Ekiti, the state capital.
Fayemi reportedly led the election in his Isan ward in Oye local government area while the LP candidate, Bamidele, performed brilliantly in most of the polling units in his Iyin Ekiti country home in Irepodun-Ifelodun local government area.
In the meantime, the APC leadership, last night, issued a statement, rejecting the outcome of the election.
But the Minister of State for Defence, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro, welcomed the results.
“The people of Ekiti have spoken”, Obanikoro said.
Amid tight security, turn out of voters was impressive as the electorate made the sacrifice of trekking long distances to the polling booths to exercise their franchise.
Accreditation of voters commenced as early as 8 am in most of the voting units in Ado Ekiti, Ido, Ifaki, Oye, Isan, Ikere, Afao, Aramoko, ljero, Ikole, Ikere, Emure, Ilawe, Ijero and Aramoko.
INEC officials were said to have come with the materials as early as 7am.
Fayemi commends INEC over innovations as voting commences
Fayemi and his wife, Bisi, voted at the Ogilolo polling unit 009 Isan-Ilafon Ward11 at about 1.01 p.m.
Speaking with newsmen after the election, the governor expressed satisfaction regarding the level of preparedness and the arrangement put in place by INEC.
He commended the electoral umpire for bringing the electoral materials as early as possible and introducing innovation to eliminate delays in the voting process and eradicate irregularities during elections.
The governor said that with this development, there were indications that the Ekiti election would record fewer hitches than that of Anambra in November 2013.
He, however, condemned what he described as attempted abduction of some of his party men like the alleged invasion of the house of an APC leader, Chief Dapo Awojolu at Egbe Ekiti in Gbonyin local government area of the state by some security operatives.
Fayemi equally said he was not comfortable with the presence of some prominent members of PDP in the state during the day of election, saying they had no business in Ekiti when the poll was going on.
On the heavy presence of security operatives in the state, the governor said he could not see reason the electorate should entertain any fear in as much as the security operatives did not misbehave.
He implored his people to remain calm and allow INEC officials to do their jobs.
Director General, Kayode Fayemi Campaign Organisation, Hon Bimbo Daramola, said that on the eve of the election, some overzealous security operatives attempted to arrest him at his Ire-Ekiti home town in Oye local government area of the state.
Daramola, who is also a member of the House of Representatives, told newsmen that some armed personnel stormed the house of his father, Chief Francis Adebayo Daramola, but did not succeed in their mission to arrest him.
He said they ransacked the house and maltreated everybody they saw on sight including his 87- years-old father.
I’ll accept outcome in good faith – Fayose
There was a huge turn out of voters at Afao Ekiti, the hometown of Fayose, the PDP candidate, who voted at his Afao Ward, Unit 001 in Irepodun-Ifelodun local government areas. He told newsmen after casting his voting that he would accept the outcome of the election no matter where the pendulum of victory swung.
Fayose said he would leave the out come of the governorship election to God. “I have campaigned enough. I did all that was necessary in this election. I know my people love me and they want to see me return as governor, but I will leave my fate to God”, the PDP candidate said.
He, however, said he was very disturbed by the alleged level of violence and inducement in some polling units, saying that was very alien to Nigeria’s democracy and hoped it would not be repented in the 2015 general elections.
I’m satisfied – Bamidele
Also speaking after voting at his Iyin Ekiti Ward in Irepodun-Ifelodun local government area, Bamidele, the LP candidate in the poll, said he was satisfied with the two stages of accreditation and voting, adding that he would be in a better position to assess the exercise at the end of the election.
He commended the law enforcement agencies for giving all the candidates a level playing ground. With the level of security put in place, he said, INEC would not have excuses to fail.
On the rumour that he had stepped down for Fayose, he said both the APC and PDP leaders had made overtures to him to step down for their candidates but he turned them down. ”The leadership of both APC and PDP made overtures to me but l turned them down. I remain a credible alternative. I never contemplated stepping down for any of them. That would have amounted to betrayal of my people,” the LP candidate said.
Five journalists arrested for illegal coverage
Five journalists covering the election were arrested by security men for alleged illegal coverage of the poll.
The journalists, Jadesola Ajibola of Inspiration FM; Toyin Yusuf, Oyetunji Ojo, Akin Ogunsola, and Aremu Awolola (reporter and crew members of the Osun State Broadcasting Cooperation, OSBC), were arrested at Ifaki-Ekiti at about 11. 15 am by a team of Mobile Policemen.
One of the journalists, Ajibola, said they were picked up by the policemen, numbering over 50, who dropped at Kwara boundary with Ekiti.
The Inspiration FM correspondent said that the police team, led by one Mopol Commander, Patrick, handed them over to one G.B Seleke, another Mopol, who escorted them with a warning not to return to Ekiti.
“The Mopol Commander told us that we had no business being in Ekiti despite our protests that we were accredited by INEC to cover the election. We showed them our press election duty INEC accreditation but they were not bothered. INEC Public Affairs Manager, Mr. Taiwo Gbadegesin, accredited us for the coverage since Thursday, June 19.”
Police deny arrest
However, police spokesperson in Ekiti State, Mr. Victor Babayemi, denied the arrest. He told Sunday Vanguard, “I’m not aware and I cannot confirm it”.