With thousands of armed troops, police, state security and civil defense personnel deployed to Ekiti, the state, during the June 21 gubernatorial election, was simply under lock down, according to the National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC) while faulting the process that led to the outcome of the poll won by Mr Ayodele Fayose of the PDP and the APC candidate, Governor Kayode Fayemi, lost.
“We believe that the police and the civil defense indeed have a role to play in providing the necessary security for the election, but we do not see why soldiers who were armed to the teeth needed to be deployed to a non-belligerent situation like an election, especially at a time that their services are more needed elsewhere to turn around a slow motion war that is daily claiming the lives of our compatriots”, he said. Excerpts of interview:
BY OLAYINKA AJAYI
What is your take on the Ekiti election that favoured the PDP candidate, Mr Ayo Fayose?
Our candidate, Gov. Kayode Fayemi, has shown rare sportsmanship by conceding defeat and congratulating the winner, Mr. Ayodele Fayose.
We are very proud of his conduct and comportment before, during and after the election, and we hail him as a true democrat in the true spirit of the APC’s belief that election is never a do-or-die affair, and that Nigerians must always be free to elect those to govern them. After all, it is said that the powers of governments are derived from the consent of the governed.
How do you describe what transpired during and after the election?
Election is a process, and whatever happens on the voting day is only an integral part of that process. What happens before, during and after the voting day completes the process.
If we view the just-concluded election in Ekiti as a process, then we can confidently say that while the events of the voting day itself may have led many to believe that the election was free and fair, the same cannot be said of the events before, during and after the election.
We believe that we owe it a duty to the continuous improvement of our electoral system and indeed the sustainability of our democracy to x-ray this election within the context that we have outlined above and draw the necessary lessons.
How do you describe the occurrence before election day?
We believe the events leading to the D-Day in Ekiti negate the principles of a free, fair and credible election. From the militarization of the election to the police attack on our supporters, arrest and detention of our leaders across the state and the use of huge funds to induce voters, the federal authorities skewed everything in favour of the PDP.
With thousands of armed troops, police, state security and civil defense personnel deployed to Ekiti, the state was simply under total lock down. We believe that the police and the civil defense indeed have a role to play in providing the necessary security for the election, but we do not see why soldiers who were armed to the teeth needed to be deployed to a non-belligerent situation like an election, especially at a time that their services were more needed elsewhere to turn around a slow motion war that is daily claiming the lives of our compatriots.
The questions to ask are: Who ordered the deployments of the troops and for what purpose? Who gave the order to stop Gov. Rotimi Amaechi from reaching Ado-Ekiti, as the army captain who stopped and threatened to shoot him said he was acting under ‘’orders from above’’?
It is worth mentioning that the physical prevention of Gov. Amaechi from joining his colleagues at the final campaign rally of Gov. Fayemi in Ekiti is a direct function of the unnecessary deployment of troops to Ekiti for the election. This event will go down as the biggest affront to democracy in our country in recent times.
Also worth mentioning is the flagrant abuse of national institutions that led to the country’s aviation authorities shutting down airports in Akure and elsewhere on the same day that our party had its last campaign rally in Ado-Ekiti. This act of impunity was targeted solely at the opposition, and it runs against global standards.
Lest we forget on the same day the helicopter ferrying Governor Adams Oshiomhole from Benin Airport to Akure en route Ekiti for that final rally was prevented from taking off. Airports are never shut without the issuance of a NOTAM – Notice to Airmen. Again, who gave the orders for the closure of the airports?
While still on this, it was widely reported that two aircraft made a total of three flights to Akure Airport ferrying what is suspected to be raw cash for use in the Ekiti election.
This was neither denied nor investigated, just like no one investigated the police attack on our peaceful supporters during a peaceful procession in Ado-Ekiti on June 8 that led to the death of one person; the teargassing of Gov. Fayemi when he intervened to save the situation; the interception of over 200 boxes of electoral materials by security agents.
What actually happened on election day?
On the eve of the election and on election day, without any reason, security personnel arrested APC leaders and supporters across Ekiti, ferrying them far away from where they could vote or monitor the election. This is an attestation to the fact that the security operatives were in the state more for a sinister motive than just to provide security for the election.
In fact, the compromise by the security operatives became more obvious when a so-called Special Task Force comprising of military, police, SSS and NDLEA officers were summoned to a meeting Friday afternoon – a day before the election, near the Tantaliser fast food eatery at Ado-Ekiti.
The case of the Campaign Manager of Gov. Fayemi, Mr. Bimbo Daramola, was particularly traumatic and saddening. His fiancee and aged father were harassed by armed soldiers who invaded his country home in the middle of the night, with guns being pointed at them as if they were common criminals.
The Campaign Manager himself, an honourable member of the House of Representatives, was hounded into an unknown place by soldiers all this because of an election!
Also on the receiving end of the brutality by security agents were accredited journalists, some of whom were ‘’deported’’, so to say, to neighbouring Kwara State by paid agents of state who turned themselves to enforcers for the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
While our leaders and supporters were being harassed and arrested across Ekiti during and after the voting, some PDP ministers and PDP stalwarts were moving around freely, with armed escort, even with a restriction on movement in place. What business did these Ministers and their cohorts have in Ekiti during the election? What was their role in the election? These are questions begging for answers.
If you recall in a press conference addressed by our newly elected Chairman, Chief John Oyegun, on June 20, we warned that our democracy was in clear danger from anti-democratic forces who are bent on winning elections, especially in the South-west, at all costs.
Today, we restate that warning and call for a reversal of the incidents that made sure a level-playing ground was not provided for all the candidates at the just concluded election in Ekiti.
While voting on election day may not have been characterized by the usual brigandage and violence, we submit that the entire process was everything but free and fair. If an integral part of the process was badly tainted as we have clearly and fully demonstrated above, then the entire process cannot but be tainted.
Voting in Ekiti may have been free of the usual violence or manipulation at the collation centres, but the entire electoral process in the state was neither free, fair nor credible.
Therefore, in order to prevent a recurrence of what happened in Ekiti, especially the militarization of the process, harassment and intimidation of citizens, especially those in opposition, the party has decided to challenge in court the role of the military in policing elections.
We will also encourage our leaders and supporters, who were arrested, harassed and intimidated to seek the enforcement of their constitutionally-guaranteed fundamental rights that were recklessly abridged by the security agencies, especially soldiers.
Our decision to act is not only to ensure that these irresponsible and unconstitutional acts are not repeated in subsequent elections, especially in Osun State come August and next year’s general elections.