By Dayo Johnson, Dapo Akinrefon, Wahab Abdullah, Demola Akinyemi, Rotimi Ojomoyela & Dirisu Yakubu
*Card reader rejects PDP candidate
*Too late to abort the will of the people, Fayemi tells Fayose
*Eleka, gov, PDP warn against falsification of results
*Outcome to determine whether 2019 polls will hold – Secondus
VOTE-buying, multiple voting and ballot-snatching, yesterday, characterised the governorship election in Ekiti State which witnessed a large turn out of voters across the state.
Early results from the polling units indicated a tight race between the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Prof Kolapo Olusola Eleka, and that of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Dr. Kayode Fayemi.
The exercise witnessed impressive turn out of voters, who trooped out as early as 8am for accreditation.
Officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, also arrived early with voting materials to ensure prompt conduct of the exercise.
In addition, security agencies were on ground to maintain law and order as they took strategic positions to frisk commuters going in and out of each area.
The election lived up to its billing with major stakeholders trading allegations of manipulating the process, raising tension as the final results were being collated.
Vote – buying
No fewer than five persons were arrested by the police in Ado-Ekiti the state capital for allegedly distributing money to voters during the election.
Those arrested were immediately whisked away from the voting centre in front of the Jonathan Memorial School, Ajilosun area of the state capital.
Findings showed that both the PDP and APC were involved.
The candidate of the Mega Party, Mr Bisi Omoyeni, and his counterpart in Accord Party, Abiodun Aluko, raised the alarm of vote- buying by the PDP and APC.
Omoyeni alleged that “some political parties had been buying votes by giving money to voters openly”. He, however, said he was confident of winning despite this because he was the best of all the candidates.
“My expectation is that I will win this election despite vote-buying. Ekiti people do not want those ones, they know them and they know I am the best. I learned that people have been distributing money to buy votes. INEC should not allow this, security agents should not allow this to continue,” he said.
On his part, Aluko, who expressed anger, said, “The All Progressives Congress was openly distributing cash to voters to influence them to vote for their candidate. While APC leaders were paying N5,000 per vote, PDP leaders were paying N4,000 apart from the N3,000 they paid into the accounts of civil servants and pensioners.
“What we are doing is not an election. It is money competition. The PDP started it by paying N3,000 into the accounts of civil servants and pensioners. I am a pensioner and I received an alert of N3,000 to vote for PDP.
“I called the pension office and asked, is my pension now N3,000? They told me that it was mobilisation to vote for the PDP candidate and that we would meet on the field for the balance.
“All Okada unions have been given millions of naira to buy the votes of their members. On the surface, you will observe that there is no fighting but the absence of violence does not mean that there is peace.”
Aluko added: “Security agents turned blind eye to the distribution of money which was done openly. This is so because there is so much poverty in the land and many believe that today is the only day they can get something from the government that has not done anything for them.”
Faulty card readers
Reports across the state, however, indicated that the smart card readers slowed down the process where they worked while many returned to their houses following the malfunctioning of the machines.
There was trouble at Ward 2, Unit 7, Okeruku, Ikere-Ekiti as the card reader there failed to recognise the PDP governorship candidate, Eleka.
Reports across Ekiti had it that the card readers malfunctioned in many voting centres.
Voters at Ayede-Ekiti complained that while their Permanent Voter Cards, PVCs, were confirmed by card readers, their fingerprints were not detected by the machines.
Initially, Eleka could not cast his vote because the card reader rejected his thumbprint.
However, the card reader captured that of his wife, Deaconess Janet Olusola.
For about 15 minutes, INEC officials fiddled with the card reader while the candidate waited on the queue. He came back for a retrial after about 30 minutes but the card reader again failed to capture him.
INEC officials then asked the dejected candidate to exercise some patience.
Eleka stormed out of the voting centre and had to wait for a response from the state INEC Commissioner.
Speaking with newsmen, he said: “l cannot say that I do not have confidence in INEC but I have my fears because of the card reader. lt is amazing that the officials are asking me if the card was bent or not.’’
The PDP candidate, who was eventually allowed to vote after the third attempt, said: “INEC has eventually found a way out of the problem. The INEC Commissioners who came around have intervened and I was allowed to vote. They said that my voter’s card would have to be withdrawn and I will be issued another one.”
He said that despite the malfunctioning of the card reader, “l still have confidence in the system and by the grace of God I am coasting home to victory.”
There were reports of snatching of ballot boxes in some voting centres in Ado-Ekiti where voting was disrupted.
Also, reports of ballot boxes were recorded as no fewer than five thugs, who stormed Mary Immaculate, Oke Ilado Polling Unit 008 and ldofin, Father Blessing House, Ado-Ekiti council area snatched two ballot boxes.
Alarm over alleged manipulation of results
Meanwhile, the PDP governorship candidate, Eleka, raised the alarm over alleged plan to tinker with the results of the election.
His campaign spokesperson, Lere Olayinka, said results in most of the local councils were being tinkered with.
He said: “Aside the fact that it was an election of the PDP versus all the security agencies in the country, we are confident of winning.
“Despite the intimidation and harassment by security agencies, we are still hopeful of winning the election but we are confronted with a clear plot to manipulate the results.
“We are therefore calling on all well-meaning Nigerians to prevail on security agencies and INEC to allow the will of Ekiti people to prevail.”
The PDP also accused the APC of hiring thugs to beat its supporters and snatch ballot boxes.
In a statement by the National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, the party also accused security agents of looking the other way while its members were molested and harassed.
The PDP cautioned the INEC not to accept or announce any result that did not reflect the true votes cast at polling centres, warning that such would be a direct call to crisis.
“The PDP has however noted how some compromised INEC officials are allowing the hirelings of the APC to attack and chase away our party’s agents at the collation centres, particularly in our electoral areas of stronghold”, it said.
“The PDP in very strong terms, cautions INEC to be guided and ensure that it is not pushed by the APC or any interest, for that matter, to subvert the will of the people as that would be a recipe for crisis.
“The people of Ekiti state already know the results that have been declared at the polling centers and as such know where the tide is flowing at every level of the Ekiti electioneering process,” the party stated in another press release issued by its spokesman, Ologbondiyan.
Fayemi accuses PDP of vote-buying
In a counter claim, Fayemi accused the PDP of inducing voters with money across Ekiti.
The former governor and APC candidate in the election, who voted at Ogilolo Ward 11, Unit 009, Isan Ekiti, Oye local government area at about 10.45am in company of some of his aides and party supporters after being on the queue for a period of 10 minutes, spoke with journalists at his country home in Ishan Ekiti.
Alleging that the ruling PDP in the state transferred money to civil servants and pensioners through their bank accounts, he said: “I think the information available to everyone, which is incontrovertible not rumour is that the PDP has been using money to influence the voters. “Infact, they sent the money electronically in order to get them to vote for them. One woman was asked at the Government House and she said she came to collect PDP money.”
The former Minister of Mines and Steel Development branded the process as credible and peaceful, saying the will of the people will prevail because “Nigerians decided to choose democracy over dictatorship and that is why all of us must guard this democracy jealously.”
‘It’s too late to abort the will Ekiti people’
Also, yesterday, the Kayode Fayemi Campaign Organisation advised Governor Ayodele Fayose to refrain from any act that could abort the will of Ekiti people as expressed through the election, saying its principal was coasting home to victory.
A statement by the Director of Media and Publicity of the Campaign, Wole Olujobi, said it was too late to abort the will of Ekiti people as freely expressed in the July 14 election in which Fayemi was clearly in early lead.
“Information at our disposal indicates that Fayose is mobilising his thugs to invade the collation centre to disrupt the conclusion of the election in which Fayemi is coasting home to victory. The attention of the world and indeed Nigerians is hereby called to the plot by Fayose to stoke violence at collation centre to disrupt the conclusion of this free and fair exercise through which Ekiti people have spoken in a clear language to have Fayemi as the governor of their choice.
“We call on security agencies to be alert to their responsibility to stop this sabotage against the nation’s law,” Olujobi said.
Police commend INEC, voters
The Commissioner of Police in charge of Ekiti North Senatorial District, Mr Ali Janga, praised INEC and the electorate for the peaceful conductof the poll.
Janga, is one of the three CPs deployed to Ekiti by the Inspector General of Police, Mr Ibrahim Idris, to monitor the election and work with the Deputy Inspector General of Police, Operations, Mr Habilal Joshak.
He was to be in charge of Ekiti North, comprising Ikole, Ido/Osi, Oye, Moba and Ilejemeje.
Janga, who spoke in Ido Ekiti, hailed the massive turn out of voters across the state and the transparency of INEC in the discharge of its duties.
Police compromised poll – Fayose
However, Fayose accused the police of compromising the election.
Addressing newsmen shortly after casting his vote at exactly 1:20pm at his Unit 001, Afao Ekiti, his country home, Fayose alleged that policemen aided and abetted open distribution of money and ballot-snatching.
The governor, nevertheless, agreed that voters turned out massively and conducted themselves peacefully.
There was no major surprise at the end of the exercise as former chieftains of the PDP, who defected to the APC, were able to secure victory for their new party.
Prince Dayo Adeyeye, Senator Fatimat Raji-Rasaki, Senator Ayo Arise, a former Speaker of the Ekiti House of Assembly, Mr. Dele Olugbemi and other party bigwigs secured their polling units for the APC.
Also, Fayose, Eleka, Senator Biodun Olujimi and other PDP chieftains secured their polling units.
The candidate of the Social Democratic Party, SDP, Akinloye Aiyegbusi and that of Action Democratic Party, ADP, Otunba Segun Adewale lost their polling units.
Secondus: There will be no elections in 2019 if …
Also speaking, yesterday, on the election, the National Chairman of the PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, said the outcome will determine whether or not there will be elections in Nigeria next year.
Secondus, who fielded questions from journalists in Ilorin during a condolence visit to former nPDP National Leader, Alhaji Kawu Baraje, who lost his mother, also berated the Federal Government over what he described as its inability to share the federal allocation for June 2018 after three meetings with state and local governments.
The PDP Chairman, who described Baraje as a brother and friend as well as former Chairman of the PDP, said the Ekiti election will the beginning of the general elections coming up next year and, as such, anything short of a credible poll would spell doom for the nation.
“We expect the Ekiti election to be credible, we believe anything short of that will cause crisis and you know Ekiti election is the beginning of all elections that will come in 2019. If Ekiti election is not properly conducted, then there will be no elections in 2019,” he said.