By DAUD OLATUNJI
Governor Ibikunle Amosun is today expected to inaugurate 19 Council Chairmen who emerged victorious in the highly controversial council polls conducted last Saturday. The controversies that shadowed the campaign and the election signposts more political plots ahead.
THE inability to find former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s name in the voters register used in last weekend’s local government elections in Ogun State may have been the peak of the absurdities that characterized the poll. But that was only one of the many surprises in the high level intrigues and power play that shadowed the campaigns and preparations for the council polls.
As at press time yesterday the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN had cleared all 19 chairmanship seats declared and the remaining one which was not declared as a result of court arbitration was also won by the ruling party. The party similarly had a near of the councillorships winning 226 of the 236 council seats leaving 9 for the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and 1 for the Peoples Party of Nigeria, PPN.
The results were announced last night by Alhaja Risikat Ogunfemi, chairman of the Ogun State Independent Electoral Commission, OGSIEC.
Irregularities and violence
Contrary to the promise made by the OGSIEC, that, voting materials would be delivered as promptly as possible, most polling units in Ogun East and West did not get voting materials on time and complete.
President Obasanjo’s name was not the only conspicuously missing name on the voters’ register. The Akarigbo and Paramount Ruler of Remoland Oba Michael Adeniyi Sonariwo and six members of his family were similarly disenfranchised.
At Odogbolu Local Government, the name of the People’s Democratic Party Chairmanship candidate, Omoba Gbenga Osinowo was also missing on the voter register.
In Ikenne, Obafemi Owode, Abeokuta North and South, Remo North and Sagamu, Ijebu East, Odeda, Ijebu North East, Ijebu North, Ado-Odo/Otta, Ifo, Ijebu Ode, Ewekoro and Yewa North, the turn-out was low as residents in many of these areas stayed indoors while many others went about their normal business.
Residents in many parts of the state complained of inadequate supply and late arrival of voting materials. In Igbesa town, Ado –Odo/Otta Local Government, electoral materials were not distributed until 12 noon, thirty minutes before the casting of votes commenced.
In Ogun Waterside, a prospective voter, Mr. Dehinde Ifarajimi allegedthat there were no elections in his Makun-Omi/Irokun Ward 9.
Ballot box snatching
The council polls also rekindled the ugly episode of ballot box snatching. Vanguard gathered that ballot boxes designated for the election in some wards in Makun-Omi in Ogun waterside were snatched by people believed to be supporters of one of the major parties who took them away to the local government headquarters.
Similar ugly incidents also occurred in Isire, Ode-Omi, Abigi, Ibiade among several others which include Ajebandele Ward, Ijebu East Local Government, where a teacher was reported to have snatched four booklets of ballot papers and thumb printed them.
A former ACN chairmanship aspirant in Remo North was reported to have been arrested and detained by policemen in Sagamu for alleged electoral offence.
In Isara, Remo North Local Government there was near outbreak of violence following allegations that a senior official in the Caretaker Committee was involved in ballot box stuffing.
Violence and attacks
There were also many mysterious circumstances that added to the intrigues that shaped the campaigns and the election proper.
Twenty four hours to the election, a councillorship candidate of PDP in Igbesa slumped and died mysteriously. Also, a councillorship candidate of the ACN escaped death by the whiskers when his car exploded shortly after he parked it in front of his opponent’s residence in Ewekoro.
One electoral officer was said to have been hit with a charm by yet to be identified person and was still in coma as at the time of filing the report.
According to one of the OGSIEC commissioners who pleaded anonymity, some electoral officers were chased with guns and had to hide in the bush after the collation of the results in Yewa axis.
One Divisional Police Officer, DPO, attached to polling station was said to have sustained injury in an accident that occurred in the course of rescuing some electoral officers who were in distress.
One PDP chieftain in Ijebu-North (name withheld) allegedly held some electoral officers hostage shortly after the declaration of the result in the local government but were rescued by soldiers.
Vanguard learnt that, the security personnel attached to a financier of the party over powered policemen who later called for assistance from the army. In Ode Remo, sporadic gunshots were said to have been fired by unknown
persons to scare away voters from the polling units.
At Simawa High School, Sagamu, the ACN chairmanship candidate, Mrs Funmi Efuwape was said to have narrowly escaped attack by some unidentified opposition supporters following disagreements over alleged irregularities at the polling unit. Efuwape who had already cast her vote before the incident was immediately ferried to safety by her supporters.
Heavily armed soldiers
Also in Isara and so many other parts of the state, heavily armed soldiers and anti-riot policemen were said to have harassed residents and prospective voters who became scared and stayed away from the polling units.
To give a signal of their presence, policemen engaged in a show-of-force in Abeokuta, the state capital with a view to
dissuading would-be trouble makers during the council poll.
At OGSIEC headquarters, Oke-Ilewo, visitors to the commission’s office were barred from the premises of the electoral body while uniform and plainclothes security operatives stood guard within and without the precinct of the commission’s offices.
Alsatian dogs and the police anti-bomb squad were also deployed around the OGSIEC offices. The State Police Commissioner had warned trouble-makers to steer clear of the state, stressing that no politician found to have
contravened the law during the election would be spared.
Also, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps in the state reportedly deployed 1,680 officers and men to different parts of the state. Time will tell whether what happened last weekend in Ogun will stand the test of time.