Fayemi Wins, APC Survives

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•  Police commission praises officers  EU hails process, commends INEC, security agencies 

• Secondus: Ekiti poll will determine 2019 election  

• NBC shuts Ekiti Broadcast Service over Fayose’s announcement declaring Olusola winner
Nseobong Okon-Ekong and Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti   

The candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC), Dr. Kayode Fayemi, cruised to a convincing win over his closest rival, Professor Kolapo Olusola of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state, in the governorship election held Saturday in Ekiti State. The results announced Sunday morning by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) saw Fayemi winning in 12 out of the 16 local government areas of the state. 

The announcement of the results commenced about 3am, and was still on as at 5.30am.

The APC candidate, a former governor of the state, started coasting to victory early, as he led in many of the results declared at the polling centres not long after voting went under way Saturday. Though, he won in majority of the local government areas, the victories were by small margins, a situation that had seen the two main candidates running neck and neck as polling closed in the evening and collation of results continued in the local government areas.

Fayemi resigned as Minister of Solid Minerals recently to contest the governorship seat, while Olusola is the incumbent deputy governor.

Initial reports that trickled in from the local governments as voting progressed showed that PDP and APC had good showings in their strongholds and were almost level in the race.

The results show that the people of Ekiti State are sharply divided along the line of the two leading political parties, with more voters leaning towards the APC.

But INEC warned against the illicit declaration of results amid a rash of polling outcomes that circulated on the internet by Saturday evening.  INEC said the public should disregard the results circulating on the social media. In a statement by the Ekiti State Resident Electoral Commissioner, Professor AbdulGanly Raji, the commission described the trending results as illegal. “All the floating news in the social media in respect of the result of the election should be discountenanced by the public,” the commission said.

INEC said the election was on-going and the announcement of the result would be officially made by it.

But Ekiti Broadcast Service became the first casualty of the illegal circulation of results, as it was shut indefinitely yesterday by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC). NBC accused the station of breaching the provisions of the broadcasting code by allowing Fayose to declare results of the governorship election when INEC had not announced it. Fayose had spoken on a programme of the service, while collation of results was on-going, and allegedly declared Olusola as winner of the election.

NBC described this as unacceptable, stating, “The commission has taken the decision to curb the continued breach of the Electoral Act and the Broadcasting Code on Political Broadcast.

“The commission is particularly irked by the unauthorised declaration of results by the state governor in the state broadcast station.

“This is after he went on air to make malicious and unsubstantiated comments against INEC, the Police and the SSS. The station will remain shut down until further notice.”

Nevertheless, the two major forces in the current political contests in the state, Fayemi and incumbent Governor Ayo Fayose, delivered their respective wards to their parties.

As voting opened, Fayemi, who voted at polling unit 009 in Isan Ekiti Local Government Area, expressed confidence in the electoral process. But Fayose lambasted the security agencies for allegedly supervising vote buying and ballot snatching in some wards in Ado Ekiti and Ikole. Fayose voted at St David’s Anglican Primary School Polling unit 001, where his, party, PDP, polled 304 votes to defeat APC, which had 106 votes.

In his Ward 11 Ogilolo unit 009 in Isan Ekiti, Fayemi’s APC scored 186 votes to beat PDP that polled two votes.

Fayemi voted around 10.45am in company of his wife, members of his household, some of his aides and supporters after queuing for about 10 minutes. The former minister said the process was credible and peaceful, saying the will of the people will prevail.

“Nigerians decided to choose democracy over dictatorship and that is why all of us must guard this democracy jealously,” he said at the polling station. He, however, lamented the news that the smart card readers were malfunctioning in some areas. The incident was pronounced in Ayede Ekiti, where people complained that their fingerprints were not detected by the machine.

Fayemi said, “It has been seamless, so far.  I was accredited and voted seamlessly. But I have heard reports of issues with the card reader from other parts of the state. Largely, we thank God that not much ugly incidents have been recorded…

“With the news we have been gathering around, the process has been okay for now.  So, I have faith in this election and I know the people of Ekiti will judge me based on what I did when I presided over this state and what this government is doing. They can see that the difference is clear.”

Addressing newsmen shortly after casting his vote about 1:20pm at Unit 001, Afao Ekiti, the governor alleged that policemen aided and abetted open distribution of money and ballot snatching. He praised Ekiti voters for coming out massively to vote and conducting themselves peacefully.

The governor said all attempts to personally report the incidents to the police authorities were rebuffed. He said many of the observers that came to monitor the poll in different parts of the state had noticed the malpractices but could do nothing to stop them. The governor declared that Olusola would still win the poll.

He said information at his disposal revealed that INEC had good intentions regarding the election, despite attempts by the police to thwart the commission’s efforts.

The governor stated, “I want to state expressly that the police have hijacked the whole process. INEC might mean well but the process was tampered with by the police. As i speak, thugs are having a field day snatching ballot boxes under police watch. This is a national disgrace.

“There were cases of not only ballot snatching, but ballot cleansing and clearing, even as the police and other officers cooperated by looking the other way.

“In all the local governments, chieftains of my party are also being arrested indiscriminately and bundled into detention this morning for no just cause, and the list include my Chief of Staff, PDP senators, Reps, among others

“The situation was so bad that people distributing money to secure votes were doing so while sitting side by side with policemen.”

Olusola was manually accredited for the election before voting at his ward at Odo Iro unit at his Ikere Ekiti hometown following the failure of the card reader to read his Permanent Voter Card twice. Olusola’s wife’s PVC could also not be verified by the card reader.

The deputy governor initially described the election process as credible at the time he voted and urged the security agencies to maintain the tempo. But he later decried an alleged complicity of security agents in the manipulation of results, saying, “We contested against security agencies.”

Olusola’s campaign spokesperson, Lere Olayinka, stated, “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 the security agencies and INEC to allow the will of Ekiti people to prevail.”

In a similar vein, PDP alleged manipulation of results a statement issued by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan. PDP said the people of Ekiti State already knew the results that had been declared at the polling centres.

The statement said, “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.

“PDP, in very strong terms, therefore 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.”

Throughout Ekiti State yesterday, people started trooping out as early as 6.30am to the polling units and at many of the centres, intending voters waited for the arrival of election materials.

In places where THISDAY monitored in Ado Ekiti, Ifaki Ekiti, Ayegbaju and Oye, Iworoko, voting started early. Security arrangements were also superb.

At Ayegbaju Ward 4, unit 002, the European Union Ambassador in Nigeria, Mr.  Keti Karlsen, hailed the peaceful election commencement of the poll. Karlsen said, “As at 9.17am, the election has been peaceful. I have been to five polling units and the process has been credible enough.

“This election is going to be a litmus test for 2019 elections. This election is a precursor to the 2019 elections and its success is very crucial to us.

“The EU have been supporting INEC in voter education, how to encourage people with disabilities, among others.

“We have seen a large turnout of people and the enthusiasm for people to elect a governor that can represent them well. I believe this election will be credible if it ends like this.”

Commenting also on the election, the Commissioner of Police in charge of Ekiti North Senatorial District, Mr Ali Janga, praised INEC and the electorate for a peaceful electoral process.

Janga was among 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 0f Police, Operations, Mr Habilal Joshak. Ekiti North senatorial district comprises Ikole, Ido/ Osi, Oye, Moba and Ilejemeje.

Janga, who spoke in Ido Ekiti, hailed the massive turnout of voters across the state and the transparency of INEC in the discharge of its duties.

He said, “I have visited three local governments and there were no electoral manipulation anywhere. People raised false alarm by sending distress calls to us, but many of them were found to be false when we got there.

“Election materials were distributed as early as possible and they were guarded by security. And the turnout was very impressive.

“With what I have seen, I know that Ekiti people are determined and desirous of choosing a new leader.”

The Police Service Commission (PSC) also rated the police high in terms of deployment and performance of the officers on election duty. PSC’s Head, Media and Public Relations, Ikechukwu Ani, made the assessment in a statement yesterday. Ani clarified that the PSC does not monitor election, but the conduct of police officers deployed for electoral duties to ensure that they maintain neutrality, law and order and ensure safe passage for the electorate.

He said the commission’s team, which was led by its Permanent Secretary, Mr. Musa Istifanus, monitored the conduct of the police officers in 45 polling units in the three senatorial zones of Ekiti State covering 14 out of the 16 local government areas. Ani said, though, there were few cases of disorder in some isolated units, the police and the complementary security agencies ensured that the election was peaceful and orderly.

In the meantime, the national chairman of PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, said yesterday in Ilorin that the 2019 general election will depend on the outcome of the governorship election in Ekiti State. Secondus stated this during his condolence visit to the former PDP national chairman, Alhaji Kawu Baraje, who lost his mother on Wednesday night.

“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 election in 2019,” Secondus said.