- Main opposition party rejects result, says it’s an electoral robbery
- Foreign observers express concern over alleged interference
Nsebong Okon-Ekong in Lagos ,Yinka Kolawole in Osogbo and Adedayo Akinwale, Palvin Namero in Abuja
The All Progressives Congress (APC) finally subdued the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announced its candidate, Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola, as the eventual winner of the Osun State governorship election.
The Returning Officer, Prof. Joseph Fuwape, said Oyetola prevailed over PDP’s Senator Ademola Adeleke, his main opponent at yesterday’s supplementary election, the main one held last Saturday having ended inconclusively.
It was a clean sweep for Oyetola who had trailed behind Adeleke by 254,345 votes to 254,698, leaving a margin of 353 votes.
At yesterday’s contest held in seven units across four local governments of the state, the APC cancelled the negative margin, besting the PDP flag bearer by a margin of 472 votes.
Fuwape said Oyetola scored 1,150 votes at yesterday’s duel to bring his haul in the race to 255,495 votes, while Adeleke got 325 more votes to close up at 255,023.
Specifically, the APC scored 299 votes in Osogbo LGA; 280 in Orolu; 455 in Ife South; and 126 in Ife North.
He said the PDP garnered 165 votes in Osogbo; 122 in Orolu; 36 in Ife South and two in Ife North.
Announcing the final results, Fuwape, who is also the Vice Chancellor of the Federal University of Technology Akure, said having scored the highest number of votes, Oyetola was returned as the winner of the governorship election and Governor-elect of Osun State.
But the PDP said the APC victory might be short-lived, describing it as “electoral robbery”, which will be resisted. The state Chairman of the PDP, Mr. Soji Adagunodo, described the supplementary election “as the most brazen assault on democracy and biggest robbery ever witnessed in the history of the state.”
He accused the security personnel of aiding “the open robbery perpetrated by the APC.”
Adagunodo explained that thousands of eligible voters were chased away from their homes in Orolu, Ife North and Ife South in the early hours.
He said, “Scores of our supporters in those local governments were shot and matchetted on their way to polling centres and in the full glare of security men. Hundreds of people holding PVCs from other polling units were accredited and allowed to vote in Osogbo and Ife South Local Government Areas. PDP agent in Olode was axed and abducted about 7a.m. yesterday.
“It was regrettable that election in seven polling units could not be freely and fairly concluded by the INEC. We reject any return of results from this sham and call on the INEC authorities in Abuja to direct that the so called supplementary election result collation be put on hold.”
The PDP state chairman further invited leaders of thought in Nigeria and the International community to “rescue Nigeria’s democracy from being ruined.”
He called on all members and supporters of our party to resist any attempt to foist a concocted election result on the people of Osun using all legal means at their disposal.”
However, the Director of Publicity, Research and Strategy, of the APC in Osun State, Mr. Kunle Oyatomi, countered the accusations against his party, saying, “The PDP was unable to manipulate the result this time around, so they are crying foul.”
Oyatomi said, “We have always known that the PDP had made elaborate arrangements to rig the election through the manipulation of the card readers and it was this process that gave them the votes in the first ballot.”
He asserted that the PDP win in the first ballot was a surprise.
According to him, “Most people in Osun had the believe that it would be a straight fight between the APC and Social Democratic Party (SDP). But as God would have it, Osun was saved from the vultures.”
Oyatomi also noted, “They attempted to win by fraud, they failed in the first round and eventually lost the rerun election.”
Apart from Ward 5 Unit 17 in the Osogbo metropolis, polling units in the remaining three local government areas were domiciled in far-flung areas that were not easily accessible.
However, the election was characterised by heavy presence of security agents and a good turnout of voters.
Officials of INEC arrived the polling units on time.
In order to quicken the process, more polling booths were provided. Card readers were deployed to accredit voters in all the units visited by THISDAY and the process was largely peaceful.
Few cases of conflicts were reported, but the situation was quickly brought under control by vigilant security agents.
Osun State Broadcasting Corporation (OSBC) reporter, Mr. Tosin Oladokun and Kaftan Television crew led by Mr. Jude Ochinma, were attacked by suspected hoodlums in Ward 5 Alekuwodo, Osogbo, where the governorship rerun was conducted.
The hoodlums reportedly damaged the OSBC official vehicle and seriously wounded the crew who were on official assignment to cover the exercise.
Security agents in the area, including military personnel dislodged the suspected thugs who laid siege to Akindeko market but were unable to arrest the culprits.
Acting Chairman, Osun State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Mr. Kehinde Ayantunji, who was at the polling unit at the time of the attack, confirmed the incident.
He said the police intervened swiftly but were unable to apprehend the culprits, who fled when the police stormed the scene of the attack.
He described the action as regrettable, saying media must not at time be the victim of electoral violence.
The police also arrested a woman and two middle aged men at the polling unit on Adewale Street, Ward 5, Unit 17 Alekuwodo in Osogbo local government area for alleged possession of voter cards belonging to other polling units.
Agents of some political parties had raised the alarm over the presence of the persons, who were not registered voters in the unit.
Security operatives intervened to bring the matter under control by taking the individuals away.
Also, some supporters of a particular political party in the state were arrested for possessing assorted charms and Indian hemp at a polling unit in Osogbo.
Secondus: Democracy under Siege
Earlier and before the announcement of results, PDP National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, had called for the cancellation of the supplementary election, saying it was fraught with malpractices.
Secondus spoke at a press conference in Abuja, where he said the state was under siege as security agencies deliberately chased away journalists, observers and supporters of the party from exercising their basic rights.
The party lamented that if what happened in Osun is what would happen in the 2019 general elections, the future of Nigerian democracy is bleak, warning that the country is sliding into crisis.
Secondus stated: “Today we are all aware of the rerun election in Osun State as we address the press conference. We, the members of the National Working Committee (NWC) have reviewed what has happened since, from the distribution of materials to the actual voting that has taken place in some of the units and wards.
“We found that Osun is under siege, therefore today is a black day for Nigeria. We would think that it is a state or some units, but if you look at what has transpired so far from Ekiti to Osun State, Nigerians are groaning in pains especially the Osun people.”
“INEC must rise above what is happening in Osun and declare our candidate winner immediately and all the units where the security agencies have seized our people, beaten up, their PVCs collected from them, INEC should immediately cancelled the elections in those areas.”
Foreign Observers Express Concern over Alleged Interference
Meanwhile, the election observation team of the U.S., EU and UK have expressed concern over alleged reports of irregularities, harassment and interference by inappropriate persons in the rerun election.
Giving their initial observation on the conduct of the exercise, a member of the team in a short statement said, “We are very concerned by these reports and will be checking with stakeholders to check the facts. We call on all stakeholders to remain calm.”
The observers stated their position while addressing journalists in Osogbo in an interview televised by the TVC television station.
Also commenting on the exercise, the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) faulted it, saying that the conduct of some key stakeholders clearly ran contrary to democratic norms and standards, as well as best practices in the conduct of credible elections.
The CDD lamented that a number of the incidents recorded during the poll had undermined the sanctity of the vote and the overall credibility of the electoral process.
The centre specifically frowned at the conduct of the security agents as well as political party stalwarts who took steps that were clearly inimical to the conduct of a free, fair and credible election.
The Director of CDD, Idayat Hassan, disclosed this in a statement yesterday in Abuja, where she decried that election observers who attempted to carry out their legitimate duties were arrested and taken to nearby police station, and were only released after being denied the opportunity to keep an eye on the process so as to guarantee its credibility.
Hassan stated: “The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) has carefully observed the governorship rerun election in Osun State with a conclusion that the conduct of some key stakeholders clearly ran contrary to democratic norms and standards, as well as best practices in the conduct of credible elections.
“CDD observers reported several cases of denial of access to Polling Units to observers, and even voters. CDD field observers deployed to observe the process and ensure its credibility, especially in Orolu and Osogbo LGAs, were intimidated, threatened and in some cases arrested by security forces.
“Credible reports from our field observers showed that despite being duly accredited by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), several of the observers and journalists were stopped from observing the process.”
Fani-Kayode: APC Chieftains Playing with Fire
Reacting thursday, former Minister of Aviation, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, said that the re-run election was a charade, saying that the conduct of the APC during the election showed that Nigeria has a long way to go and thereby declared that President Muhammadu Buhari, Senator Bola Tinubu, Governor Rauf Aregbesola and other leaders of the APC are playing with “fire” over the re-run election.
“The truth is there was no election in Osun State on Thursday,” he said, adding, “It was violence all through. It was daylight robbery and theft. It was a violation of the dignity, rights and sovereignty of the people of Osun State and Yorubaland.”