In London, Oodua Group Cautions FG on Ondo Election

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…Calls for postponement

By Zacheaus Somorin

The London chapter of Ipe Oodua Liberation, IOL, has cautioned the Federal Government to employ wisdom in tackling the knotty issues beclouding the Ondo State gubernatorial election slated for Saturday or be prepared to face the dire consequences

Fagbenle Esan, Chairman of the group, said this after a meeting of some Yoruba socio-cultural groups which held in Lewisham in London. The groups met to discuss the Ondo State election so as to take a common position on it in order to forestall possible break down of law and order in the sunshine state.

Esan, who spoke to journalists after the meeting, said the groups resolved that the election should be shifted to allow for a level playing ground among the candidates and to also allow an amicable settlement of the cases that are currently in the court of law. He noted that the groups are of the opinion that there was no reason why the electoral umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, should rush to conduct the election, in the midst of then various court cases and palpable unpreparedness of the candidates for the polls.

According to him, the action of the Federal Government, for keeping mute over the matter, smirks of conspiracy which would be resisted by the groups. He accused the Federal Government of favoritism, questioning why a government that was disposed to the postponement of a less controversial governorship election in Edo State is playing lips service to the Ondo election. IOL condemned the recent deployment of security forces to the state, saying that such measure would not assuage the already heightened tension across the state.

The Federal Government had ordered the deployment of  26,000 police personnel, three helicopters, 12 APCs, 20 gunboats, for the Ondo election. Inspector-General of Police (IG), Mr Ibrahim Idris, said on Tuesday in Akure during a meeting held with INEC officials and representatives of political parties in the state, that his men were battle ready for the Saturday poll to ensure there is no breakdown of law and order.

But Esan, reacting to the statement, said no amount of threat and intimidation would stop the people from losing themselves from the grip of any orchestrated clampdown to waste their votes.

 “The people of Ondo State are no cowards. We will not surrender to any cheap threat and intimidation. Our votes must count and people must have liberty to choose the leader they want without being hoodwinked. We are determined more than ever ready fight for our right and stop all these undemocratic manifestations by INEC, here and now. We are not in a hurry. There is still ample time to shift the election forward so that all the electoral issues can be resolved. This is why our minimum demand at this meeting is a three week shift of the poll to allow for fair play,” he stressed.