* 667,064 to vote in gov poll, says INEC chief

Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti

The stakeholders’ meeting convened by the Inspector General of Police (IG),
Mr. Ibrahim Idris, and the National Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, on Monday came to an abrupt end as party members disrupted the parley in a show of strength.

The parley tagged: Ekiti Stakeholders Meeting, which was attended by the candidates of the 35 political parties, ended in an uproar as members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) threw jibes at each other.

Idris and Yakubu had addressed the house after which the representative of the PDP, Hon. Samuel Omotoso, a serving lawmaker, raised observations that the candidate of the APC and ex-governor of the state, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, had allegedly been bragging that he would be declared whether he loses the election or not.

Omotoso also raised observations about how he and his family were allegedly shot by security agencies during the APC rally in his community at Oloje town in Oye Local Government Area of the state, querying why some security agencies have been exhibiting partisanship in the countdown to the election.

When Omotoso started mentioning Fayemi’s name continuously, the APC members became agitated and they raised their voices to shout him down.

In spite of this, the lawmaker refused to stop and he continued until he raised all the PDP’s objections against alleged misconducts of the security personnel.

It was after Omotoso rounded off his speech that the PDP burst into a loud noise, chanting ‘Eleka Ibo’, meaning: ‘Eleka for Votes’ for more than 10 minutes and the atmosphere of the Eagle Hall along Ikere road, Ado Ekiti, where the event was held became charged and uncontrollable.

Eleka is the political acronym of the PDP candidate, Prof. Olubunmi Olusola, who is the deputy governor of the state.

Spirited efforts made by the INEC chief, IG and the Chairman, Council of Traditional Rulers, Oba Oluwole Ademolaju, to placate the rampaging party members did not work.

It was at this time that dignitaries at the event started leaving the hall and the parley came to an abrupt end without the interactive session, where stakeholders were expected to ask questions and authorities concerned will give relevant answers.

Earlier, the IG said a total number of 4,390 combined forces of soldiers and other paramilitary will be deployed to complement the 30,000 policemen that have been drafted to Ekiti to monitor theelection.

Idris added that a Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG), an Assistant
Inspector General of Police (AIG) and five Commissioners of Police (CP) will be
in charge to give directive and ensure that the election is conducted under a conducive atmosphere.

The police boss warned political leaders and their supporters to refrain from arming thugs, saying whoever is arrested will be prosecuted in line with the rule of law and laws guiding the conduct of the election.

“We want all party supporters to refrain from all acts that can precipitate violence at the polling booths such as canvassing for votes, wearing of party insignias, dissuading voters from voting for candidates of their choices, loitering and blaring of siren on the day of election.

“We will also not tolerate ignoring of restriction of movement orders by the police . Don’t see election as a matter of life and death.

“Let me state that police will not hesitate to deal with anybody, no matter how highly placed, found flouting electoral laws.

“Let me call for the collaboration and support of the entire sister agencies and the INEC officials. Police officers have been warned to be of good conduct during and after the election.

“If you notice any misconduct on the part of any police, do not hesitate to report to the senior officers on the ground or contact me directly,” Idris added.

In his contribution, Yakubu said the commission decided to distribute the Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) to the ward level to motivate the electorate to collect to be able to exercise their franchise rights.

“For transparency, all uncollected PVCs will be brought to INEC office in Ado Ekiti and warehoused for safe keeping until a new date is fixed to resume the PVC collection.

“However, since the Anambra State governorship election held in November 2017, we have introduced an additional measure of transparency.

“I wish to reassure that our officials are under strict instruction to remain neutral. We have also accredited credible foreign and local observers to monitor this election.

“We are confident that with the arrangements we have put in place, Ekiti State governorship election will be another good example of free, fair, credible and peaceful election and a further affirmation of the maturity of our democracy,” he stated.

Also affirming that the election will be credible, the state Resident Electoral Commissioner in Ekiti, Prof Abdulganiyu Raji, said a total of 913,334 people have been registered by the commission out of which 667,064 had collected their PVCs.

Raji said the commission still has a total of 246,270 unclaimed PVCs that were yet to be collected by owners.