Adeleke, Omisore in strong competition
*Bisi Akande, Oyinlola lose polling booths
*Vote-buying: Police make arrests
By Dayo Johnson, Dapo Akinrefon & Gbenga Olarinoye
Results from yesterday’s governorship election in Osun State were running into a three-horse race, with the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC,leading, while the major opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and the Social Democratic Party, SDP, were in hot contention.
The three major candidates, Gboyega Oyetola of the APC, Senator Iyiola Omisore of the SDP and Senator Ademola Adeleke of the PDP, came away from the votes with strong endorsements from their strongholds with the three sweeping the votes in their polling units.
A major setback for the APC was the defeat of its interim national chairman, Chief Bisi Akande in his polling unit. Akande, the first Fourth Republic governor of the state, lost his polling booth to the PDP which won the booth by 78 votes compared to the 49 polled by the APC and the 19 votes won by the SDP.
Oyetola, however, won his unit with 123 votes against the 43 votes scored by the PDP and 20 votes of the SDP.
Omisore also won his polling unit at More Ward 1, Unit 3, St Gabriel Primary School convincingly with 178 votes compared to the 37 scored by APC 37 and nine scored by the PDP.
Adeleke also won his polling unit Abogunde/Sagba Ward 2, Ede with 154 compared to the 39 votes scored by the APC and five votes scored by the SDP.
The outgoing governor of the state, Rauf Aregbesola, won his polling unit for the APC with 132 votes as compared to the 84 votes scored by the PDP and the 24 votes scored by SDP.
His predecessor as governor, Chief Olagunsoye Oyinlola, a chieftain of the ADC, however, lost his polling unit to the PDP which polled 107 votes with the APC scoring 69 votes and the ADC garnering 20 votes.
The Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Prince Diran Odeyemi, won his polling unit for his party with 195 votes as against the 158 votes scored by the APC.
Expectations from the Action Democratic Congress, ADC, and the Action Democratic Party, ADP, pulling strong in the contest were dashed as the two new parties, with formidable candidates in the persons of Fatai Akinbade and Femi Adeoti, did not pull traction on ground.
Yesterday’s election was relatively well organised as compared to previous governorship elections. There was also a marked reduction in the incidence of vote, buying. However, a few persons were apprehended by the police with money allegedly to be used in compromising voters.
Meanwhile, the odds seemed to have favoured Oyetola who, it was reliably gathered, was in the lead in the results of the election.
Massive turn out
As early as 7 am, voters began to troop en-masse to their respective voting units for the election.
In the respective local government areas monitored by Sunday Vanguard, voters comported themselves in an orderly manner for accreditation and voting.
The impressive turnout were noticeable in Ede, Osogbo, lragbiji, llesha, Boripe, Ibokun and other major towns across the state.
Security men took strategic positions in the polling units and along the roads. They were also on hand to frisk those who plied the roads during voting period.
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, also improved on previous elections as voting materials arrived at the centres on time.
The Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC, Mr. Segun Agbaje, while speaking with journalists, denied reports that the commission banned voters from coming to the polling stations with smartphones saying: “What we said was that no phone would be allowed into the voting cubicles. This is part of efforts to curb the embarrassing menace of vote-buying.
“We are of the strong opinion that once it becomes difficult for voters to prove who they voted for in order to be paid by unscrupulous politicians, it will become unattractive for politicians to promise cash in return for votes.
“But as at this moment, we are resolute on our position that no phone or camera will be allowed to follow any voter into our cubicle”.
Two arrested for vote-buying
The efforts against vote-buying nonetheless, two middle-aged men were arrested by security operatives in two different voting centers in the Ile-lfe area while trying to induce voters.
Sunday Vanguard gathered that one of the chieftains of an unnamed party was arrested at Sabo area in Ile-lfe, while the other was arrested at Ilare Area 4 in Olodo, lfe East.
The suspects, who were picked up in the act were subsequently whisked away by security operatives.
The suspect arrested in Sabo was said to have in his possession N300,000 cash which he was allegedly using to settle voters after casting their votes for his party.
The suspect arrested at Ilare Area 4 in Ilado was reportedly arrested by officials of the DSS with an undisclosed amount of money in his possession.
About ten officials of the DSS, acting on a tip-off by party agents, reportedly identified the suspect who was arrested and thereafter whisked away barefoot at about 9.30 a.m.
It learned that the suspect was arrested at the polling centre where the deputy governorship candidate of the PDP, Albert Ade Ojo, voted.
Speaking with newsmen, Ade- Ojo accused security operatives and INEC officials of compromise.
He alleged that while some party officials were inducing voters, the security operatives and INEC officials looked elsewhere.
Two other party agents were arrested at St. Mary Grammar School, Elewe-Iwo for alleged vote-buying. They were identified as Muriat Olalekan, 61, and Hamzat Muniru, 65.
Cash totalling N604,000 was allegedly recovered from them.
The Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) Operations and Security Coordinator, Joshak Habila, said the case was under investigation.
Hebila said: “So far, there have been arrests for some infractions. Somebody was caught discussing how money is to be shared”.
Fake INEC official arrested in Ife
In another development, a fake INEC official was arrested by security operatives in Ile-Ife.
The President of the rights group, Women Arise for Change Initiative and the Campaign for Democracy, Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin, disclosed this to newsmen.
Odumakin, who is an election observer, said her team witnessed the arrest in Otan Ayegbaju by security men.
Aregbesola, Omisore bicker over irregularities
Meanwhile, Governor Aregbesola and the SDP candidate, Omisore, sharply disagreed over the conduct of the election.
Aregbesola dismissed the speculation that the payment of workers’ full salary before the election was for political reasons.
Aregbesola made the clarification after casting his vote at his Ifofin Ward 8, Unit 1 Polling Unit, Ilesa.
The governor, who arrived at the polling unit with his wife, Sherifat, said his party would win the election not minding what he described as falsehood by the opposition party.
He said: “I must commend the voters for conducting themselves in a peaceful manner and for coming out in their large numbers. This is the beauty of democracy,”
On his part, Omisore expressed concern over alleged irregularities in the conduct of the exercise.
The SDP spoke shortly after voting at his Moore Ward 1, 003 Polling Unit, alleged that there were insufficient electoral materials in some polling units in Osogbo.
The PDP campaign, on its part, warned strongly against the mutilation of the results of the poll.
Campaign spokesman, Olawale Rasheed, in a statement, last night, said:
“As results are being collated across the state, we demand utmost fair play and transparency from the electoral body. We are watching and monitoring closely. Under no circumstance should the collation process be manipulated.
“Our agents and leaders are on their toes armed with relevant results and forms. The will of the people must be respected. We task INEC and security agencies to obey the directive of President Muhammad Buhari who had ordered that the Osun electoral process should never be manipulated by federal or any related agencies.
“Our people should also be ever vigilant to protect their votes and their aspirations for better life.”
EU envoy, TMG commend INEC
Meanwhile, the European Union and Transition Monitoring Group, TMG, have commended INEC over the conduct of the election.
The European Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Ketil Karlson, commended INEC for drawing lessons from the Ekiti governorship election.
He also said he was satisfied with the conduct of the election so far saying “what we have seen so far has been peaceful.”
Speaking when his observer team stopped over at LA School, Popo in Boripe Local Government Area, Karlson said: “I will say so far, so good INEC has learned lessons from the previous elections in Ekiti, Anambra, and other places and that is good to see because that gives a bit of impetus and trust that this can be an inspiration for the general election in 2018.”
We’re yet to see vote-buying—TMG
TMG National Chairman, Dr. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, on her part, said her team did not observe vote-buying in the governorship election.
Speaking to newsmen in Iragbi, she said: “We have been around, and we have gotten reports from 250 observers on the field and from the report, INEC has improved particularly on logistic issues that they used to have. Their officials were out on time as early as 7 am.
“The vote also started early in some places. Unlike what we saw in Ekiti state, where there was obvious vote buying everywhere, we realized that we didn’t see much of that today, but that does not mean it’s not happening. It is not in the open space like it was done in Ekiti State.
“In terms of the card reader, we have only gotten one report of card reader malfunctioning, and that was at a polling unit in Iragbiji, but we have not seen that in places we have been to.”
The Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Odeyemi, expressed optimism the PDP would win the election.
On the allegation that parties had been engaged in vote-buying, he said: “There is no evidence of vote-buying as far as I can see, people already know who they want to vote for, and I am sure they must have made up their mind who they want to vote for before coming. So, if there were any vote buying, it would have happened before the election day and not during the election”.
The process is credible—Oyetola
Earlier, the APC governorship candidate, Oyetola, expressed satisfaction with the conduct of the election.
Speaking after casting his vote, alongside his wife, Kafayat, and two sons at Polling Unit 002 in LA School, Popo in Boripe Local Government Area, he said: “The process has been credible so far. The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has been doing a good job. The people have been coming out to cast their votes without any intimidation. The Card Reader is working well, there has been no issue, the law enforcement agencies are doing their job, people are peaceful, and I look forward to a credible election.”
Refuting vote-buying allegation, he said: “I don’t know anything about votes buying but here they are no buying votes, and I have not seen anybody buying votes.”
The PDP, through its Zonal Publicity Secretary, Ayo Fadaka, also claimed, yesterday, that nine APC governors came to the state to influence the election.