By Adeleke Adeseri, Southwest Regional Editor, Dayo Johnson and Charles Kumolu
Governor Segun Mimiko was on course for a historic re-election as governor of Ondo State after first results showed him dusting his two major opponents in polling results at the end of voting in the gubernatorial election conducted yesterday.
Mimiko, who stood as candidate of the Labour Party (LP), defeated Rotimi Akeredolu, the candidate of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, in Akeredolu’s polling unit at GRA Unit 6, Owo by 144 votes to 139 votes. Akeredolu was also defeated at the ward level by Mimiko, who took first position with 420 votes, and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP candidate, Chief Olusola Oke, who took second position with 292 votes leaving Akeredolu with 287 votes.
Mimiko also triumphed at the polling unit of the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta, Mr. Kingsley Kuku, in RCM Unit 2, Arogbo Ward 1 in Ese Odo in the Southern Senatorial district. Kuku had campaigned vigorously in support of the PDP candidate.
The governor polled 97, Oke 85, ACN 16 votes the unit.
Where he voted in polling Unit 20, Ward 07, Mimiko overwhelmed his challengers by polling 348votes, to the 18 and 16 polled respectively by the ACN and PDP candidates.
Mimiko’s deputy and running mate in the election, Alhaji Ali Olanusi, also delivered his Polling Unit 8 Ward 01 in Egure in the Northern Senatorial District handsomely to LP. The Ondo ruling party polled 143, ACN 26 and PDP 56.
The only exception to the Mimiko blaze is Oke’s polling unit where the incumbent was reported to have trailed Oke, who took first, and Akeredolu, who was second. In the unit, the PDP candidate polled 178 votes, ACN13, LP 3.
Should Mimiko’s victory be confirmed, he would be the first governor of Ondo State, either as old or new, to be re-elected. The first civilian governor of the state under the old dispensation, Chief Michael Ajasin, who ran on the platform of the defunct Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN), was was only returned after the courts overturned the declaration of Chief Akin Omoboriowo of the former National Party of Nigeria (NPN) in 1983.
Yesterday’s election was conducted under tight security with an overflow of security men all over the state. The tight security cordon around the state led to some anxiety.
PDP candidate held
Oke, the PDP candidate, was delayed for over onr hour for allegedly contravening the restriction order by the Inspector General of Police.
Soldiers numbering about ten accosted him at Igbotako Motor Park at about 6.30 a.m. but was released at about 7.33 a.m. after the soldiers ordered those accompanying him to sit on bare floor for the period they were delayed.
Oke was accompanied by some security men in four Prado Jeeps and two Hilux vans.
The candidate was said to have pleaded with the soldiers to allow him to go but they declined.
After several calls, the leader of the security personnel released him.
Speaking with newsmen, Oke confirmed the incident.
Late arrival of materials
Accreditation commenced in many areas of the state as early as 7.30 a.m., though there were some exceptions in some sections of the state where accreditation did not commence until late afternoon.
Mimiko, who monitored the election from his base in Ondo, in the early hours of yesterday, expressed concern over the late arrival of voting materials to some sections of Akure.
Voting was delayed into the mid afternoon in Isinkan/Ajebamidele Street in the state capital, as voting materials had not arrived even as at 2.30 p.m,, though accreditation was done earlier.
Akeredolu, speaking from his base in Owo, however, expressed satisfaction as he voted in his GRA Unit in the historic town.
Mimiko, in company of his wife, Kemi, voted at 2.30 p.m .
Shortly before the governor voted, one alleged PDP agent (names withheld) was caught at Ward 7 Akure Garage, Ondo, close to Mimiko’s polling booth, distributing N10,000 to each security official. He was also allegedly caught with ballot papers thumb printed at a petrol station in the area. The man, it was learnt, was sent to Olokuta Prison, Ondo.
Prior to the commencement of voting, Akure and some other sections of the state were enveloped with rumours of alleged alliance between some parties and the arrest of a serving commissioner in the state allegedly caught with guns. The state Commissioner for Information, Mr. Kayode Akinmade, and security officials, however, denied the rumour of any arrest of a commissioner.
AT least ten persons were arrested across the state during the election for offences ranging from possession of voters cards, double registration and carrying of cash.
A middle aged boy was arrested at Holy Trinity Secondary School, Akungba Akoko South West for double accreditation.
In Owo, two others, said to be PDP leaders, were arrested for carrying N1million and the party’s instructional materials on how to vote.
Also, in Ondo, a PDP member (names withheld) was arrested with 100 voter cards and already thumb printed ballot papers.
The PDP leader was arrested at Unit 22 Ward 7 near a petrol station close to Akure Garage.
Police Commissioner, Muhammed lndabawa, confirmed that two politicians were arrested at voting centres in Owo.
Meanwhile , the State Police Command has denied the arrest of two serving commissioners over alleged electoral offences.
There had been reports that the Ondo Special Duties Commissioner, Niran Sule Akinsuyi, and his education counterpart, Remi Olatubora, were arrested in Owo and Irele.
The image maker of the command, Adeniran Aremu, said the report was not correct as the police were not aware of the arrest of the commissioners.
Also, the State Information Commissioner, Kayode Akinmade, said that the rumour was peddled by the opposition A C N to discredit the election.
Akinmade said that after it was clear to the ACN that it had failed in the election, it resulted into propaganda. He equally disclaimed reports of violence he claimed to have been propagated by the ACN.