By Kayode Fasua
Barely 24 hours to the presidential and national assembly elections, a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) pressure group in Ondo State, has tasked the state police command to investigate speculation that there is massive hoarding and thump-printing of ballot papers in Ward 11 of Akure, by hoodlums suspected to be loyal to ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
The group, Sunshine Youth Advocates (SYA), in a statement signed by its President, Mr. Seyi Ologunaye, and Secretary, Miss Ola Aremu, said Akure, the state capital, “has been put under undue tension with reports across the streets that some APC hoodlums are hiding in Aiyedun quarters in Akure, which is a flashpoint in Ward 11, where they are busy thump-printing ballot papers ahead of the election.”
“While we are still to put a pin on this allegation, we are appealing to the Ondo State Police Command, the Department of State Service, and all concerned security agents to set to work, comb the Aiyedun quarters area and ensure that perpetrators of such an unholy act are fished out.
“As you all know, Ward 11 is the largest ward in Akure and whosoever wins massively in that ward has coasted to victory, and that is why we want the security agents to move in swiftly in the interest of peace, fairness and justice.
“After all, President Muhammadu Buhari recently warned that ballot snatchers should be ready to pay with their lives if they attempt to display their act on election day. Same way, those who are gathered in hideouts thump-printing ballot papers should not be spared in any way.
“We similarly appeal to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Ondo State not to take this observation with levity; they should ensure that their card readers are in good condition and frustrate any attempt by some desperate politicians and hoodlums to arm-twist their electoral officials on duty.
“As we are all aware, since the INEC is no longer using incidence form for this election, the card reader should be the ultimate judge, in the interest of true democracy,” the SYA counseled.
The group further appealed to the PDP and other party agents to be vigilant and safeguard their votes against any form of manipulation, even as it warned, “Shout at the top of your voice once a foul play is about to happen.”
The SYA similarly appealed to the security agents to display neutrality and protect innocent voters and INEC officials on election day, noting that the whole world is watching Nigeria with keen interest, to see if it could conduct a free and fair presidential election.