Protests, Condemnation Mount over Osun Supplementary Election

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 It is triumph of tyranny, Laments Atiku

•Democracy dead says Fayose  

ECA threatens boycott

ByDeji Elumoye in Abuja, Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja, Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti,Emmanuel Ugwu in Umuahia

Protests have continued to mount over the controversial governorship rerun election in Osun State where the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) returned Gboyega Oyetola of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as winner with an organisation, the Eastern Mandate Assembly threatening a boycott of 2019 elections.

Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar has described the declaration of  Oyetola as the winner of the September 22, 2018 gubernatorial election by INEC as a travesty of justice.

Also reviewing the result of the polls, Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki who is the Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)Campaign Council on Osun State Governorship election described it as an embarrassment to the nation’s democracy.

Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State, lamented that the handling of the Osun election was a proof that democracy was dead in Nigeria.

A coalition of civil society organisations under the aegis of Eastern Consultative Assembly (ECA) and the Transition Monitoring Group (TMG) yesterday also condemned the “brazen manipulation of the poll to subvert the will of the people.” The TMG further warned that  the desperation of the political class, had grievous implication for the credibility and legitimacy of the entire Osun supplementary exercise. 

  Atiku, a presidential aspirant on the platform of the PDP said that what happened in Osun State was not democracy but a demonstration of tyranny.

He disclosed this in a statement he personally signed in Abuja, insisting that the victory of the candidate of the PDP Senator Ademola Adeleke, was firmly established last week on Saturday the 22nd of September, 2018.

 According to him, “The result just declared today in Osun by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in favour of the All Progressives Congress and its candidate is a travesty of justice. That was not democracy. That was a demonstration of tyranny.

“This so-called victory of the APC is not a democratic victory. Observers, both foreign and domestic, reported the brazen intimidation of voters and outright suppression of voting in PDP strongholds with even PDP agents physically prevented from being at the polling units.” 

The former vice president noted that the actions showed to the whole world that the unnecessary rerun, in polling units cancelled or voided by the INEC, was nothing more than a red herring, to distract attention and gain time, while the ruling party perfected strategies to pull a fast one on the electorate, as it has done.

He insisted that the international community must intervene to ensure that what happened in Osun must be investigated, reversed and prevented from spilling over to other gubernatorial, legislative and national elections in 2019.

He called on Nigerians to be on guard, adding APC had shown its leprous hand of a tyrant and must be alert in future elections, saying for as Thomas Paine said “eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.”

According to Saraki, “Yesterday, we witnessed another display of the subversion of the will of the Osun people during the re-run gubernatorial elections in the state. The election was characterised by widespread voter intimidation, violence and harassment. Accredited observers were denied access to polling units and duly registered voters were prevented from participating in the electoral process by thugs and compromised security agents.

“Like I said a few days ago, this needless re-run election was only designed as an avenue for the ruling party to perpetrate electoral fraud. The nature of these elections is an embarrassment to our democracy and casts an alarming pall on the institutions responsible for protecting the will of the Nigerian people as stated through their votes. That was why for more than 10 hours the INEC could not collate and announce results in just seven polling units with just over 2000 votes.

 “It is surprising that the election in which on Saturday, the two leading candidates were running neck to neck with the PDP candidate having an edge, four days later, as a result of manipulations and impossible conditions, the APC candidate is now being credited with all the votes and some paltry number of votes were being recorded for the PDP candidate.

“We should not make a mockery of democracy by conducting elections in the manner that the Osun polls were conducted. The Osun election is a clear indication of how the 2019 election will be conducted. It demonstrates that if we cannot conduct free, peaceful and fair elections in seven polling units spread across four local government areas of a state, then the conduct of the general elections in 774 local government areas across 36 states of the country is already endangered.

“I therefore call on the government, INEC, security agencies and development partners to ensure a radical change in the way and manner the next set of elections will be conducted. Osun 2018 polls is a very low point in our electoral system.

‘”In the 2015 elections, Nigeria witnessed several gains in its electoral process. The process was transparent and people’s votes counted. These gains made it possible for the then opposition party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) to win at the centre and in many states of the nation. That election highlighted a fine moment in Nigeria’s democracy.

“It is disheartening that the major beneficiaries of those credible processes are now the ones subverting the basic principles of our democracy in every way possible. It is appalling that these people are willing to destroy our institutions in their quest to circumvent the desires of the people.”

Hinting of plans by the PDP to immediately challenge the election result in court, Saraki said “it is important to once again reiterate that the re-run election in Osun State is not only about Osun State. It serves as a reflection of our country and the way we are viewed by the world. Like I said a few days ago, this theft of the mandate given to Senator Ademola Adeleke, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate for the elections, will not stand.” 

Fayose in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Idowu Adelusi in Ado Ekiti on Friday, Fayose said: “With the show of shame that happened in last Saturday’s Osun State governorship election in general and the Thursday rerun in particular, there is no other conclusion to draw than that democracy is now dead in our beloved country.” 

Fyose decried the conduct as well as outcome of the said election, saying: “With what happened in Osun State, democracy is actually dead in Nigeria and we are in critical times.

“The Osun supplementary elections was just a repeat of what happened in Ekiti State on July 14th. And it is unfortunate that, again, the will of the people has been perverted.

“It was obvious even to the blind that the Osun election, as was the case with Ekiti, was a contest between the PDP and the security agencies supervised by a compromised INEC.”

Fayose added that the university professors also used as returning officers by INEC have, ab initio, been compromised and only serve the interest of those he described as their pay masters.

“Therefore, we want to believe that conscionable Nigerians and the survival of this country as a whole are at the mercy of God and of the judiciary. And if the judiciary fails to rise up to the occasion, Nigerians will be among men the most miserable,” he said.

Reviewing previous elections, Fayose said the ruling APC has perfected various forms of what he called “rigging plans, beginning with Edo, going forward to Ondo and Ekiti and now Osun State”.

The Ekiti governor commended Senator Nurudeen Ademola Adeleke for having fought a good fight.

“You did not lose but your mandate has only been stolen,” he assured Adeleke.

Fayose then condemned the violence that attended the election, sympathised with the families of those killed and enjoined PDP members to refrain from taking the law into their own hands.

 The ECA vowed that its constituent organisations would not participate in the 2019 general poll because the signs were already clear that the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) would not allow Nigerians to elect their leaders by choice.

The decision to boycott the forthcoming general election was contained in a communiqué issued by the group after an emergency meeting at Enugu convened to review the outcome of the Osun poll. The communiqué signed by Chief Mariah Okwor and Evangelist Ugochukwu Uko, deputy leader and secretary of ECA respectively and made available to journalists via email, said that the Osun rerun poll was a sham and disservice to democracy.

“The Osun rerun election confirms the fears of all and sundry that this inept government will never allow a free, fair, and credible presidential election next year,” the group said, adding that  “the daylight robbery in Edo plus the brutal show in Ekiti (had) both warned the world of what to expect in 2019.

Describing the Osun rerun poll as “a macabre dance of shame” the CSOs decried the “ruthless use of security agencies by the ruling party and its “subtle endorsing of vote buying to aid its subversion of the people’s will thereby further eroding the people’s confidence in the electoral process.

“Accordingly, we find it difficult to queue in the hot sun to cast our votes, only for a vicious cabal with a born-to-rule mentality, to ensure our votes do not count. Therefore, we are shouting it out loud:  We will boycott the presidential election next year. 

 

However ECA said that while it has decided to boycott the presidential poll next year “our people desirous of voting in local elections (governorship and state assembly) may vote, if they so wish”.

The group noted that it has become crystal clear now “why all military and security agencies are deliberately placed in control of one particular region, now we know why the 97: 5 percent policy of the central government is implemented with single mindedness”.

 

ECA further lamented the predicament of Nigerians, saying, “Because decision has already been taken, that votes will not count, even INEC has also been placed under total control by the ruling party. Why would any sensible person, bother to go out to vote. 

“The confidence of the people in the electoral process has been completely destroyed by the armed robbery that was Osun rerun elections”.

 

It added that “the fact that the perpetrators of this heist, are boastful about it, confirms that we are in big trouble as a country, adding that Nigerians have “made a costly to fall into the hands of this ruthless and vicious cabal (after) passing through the brigandage and pillage of the former ruling party.”

 

ECA pointed out that the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) saw the viciousness of the present government coming and warned Nigerians against it to no avail hence “we hereby apologise to the IPOB, who saw clearly, earlier than anybody, that this inept government do not have the intention to ever conduct fair and credible elections”. 

 

 

TMG said that the development in the re-run if not addressed quickly has the potentials of undermining the confidence people have built overtime on the electoral system and could send ominous signals for 2019 general elections. 

 

TMG observed that the supplementary election which took place on the 27th of September, 2018, across the seven polling units in four-local government councils, namely Orolu, Ife North, Ife South and Osogbo where elections where cancelled and a rerun ordered by INEC was not credible.

 

It revealed that in the four local governments, there were 3,498 registered voters, 2,637 number of PVC collected, while number of PVC not yet collected were 861 as at the time of the elections.

 

 

The group in a statement jointly signed by its Chairperson, Dr. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi and its Southwest Coordinator, Mr. Sulaimon Arigbabu, said that one of the major concern of the election was the protection of the secrecy of voting; stressing that INEC needs to devise a more effective strategy that would further protect the secrecy of the votes. 

 

It noted that most of the voting cubicles were situated in the open, making it possible for persons, other than the voter to view voters’ preferences. 

 

 

The group stated: “TMG observers reported several incidences of intimidation and harassment of voters. In Orolu Local Government in particular, some observers and journalists were arrested and detained by some security agents, while some other observers were prevented from accessing the polling units, by some hoodlums.

 

 

“By these acts, we observed that sizeable number of voters were therefore prevented from performing their civic duties particularly in Kajola, Orolu Local Government, Oyere and Osi in Ife South Local Government.

 

“Our observations also show that several party agents were prevented from observing the process.  There were also sporadic gunshots in some locations in Osogbo and Ife.”

 

It therefore called on INEC to conduct a thorough investigation into all reports of infractions from the field by both local and international observer groups.