By James Sowole in Akure
Citing intimidation, bribing of electorate and acts of brigandage, four among political parties that contested last Saturday’s House of Assembly in Ondo State Tuesday called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to cancel the election in Ondo East and Ondo West Local Governments area of the state.
The call was made by candidates of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), African Democratic Congress (ADC), African Action Congress (AAC) and the ANRP during a protest and a news conference in Akure, the state capital.
The protesters including a 65-year-old father of 26-year-old Ebenezer Adetokunbo, who was declared missing since the election day, marched to the Alagbaka, Akure headquarters of the INEC.
The protesters, who also include youths, market men and women and who were chanting unprintable words against some leaders in the state, urged INEC to cancel the results of the election in the interest of justice.
Led by a PDP stalwart in Ondo State, Chief Segun Adegoke; and a former Majority Leader in the Ondo State House of Assembly, Hon. Dayo Akinsoyinu of Ondo West II, the protesters said the electorate were denied the opportunity to choose who should represent them in the assembly.
Addressing journalists, Adegoke alleged that the plan of all the ugly incidents that transpired on the election day was hatched in the state to safe the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the governor from another defeat.
According to Adegoke, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu became desperate to win the Assembly election for his APC to avoid being impeached should he lose the Assembly election.
He said the performance of all the contesting political parties during the National Assembly election had shown clearly the parties the people of Ondo wanted.
The PDP chieftain, who cited specific wards and units where thugs allegedly chased people away for not ready to compromise their positions, added that there were cases when money were being shared to voters in the queue to induce them to vote for either APC or Zenith Labour Party (ZLP).
“What happened on March 9 was a sham. It is disheartening that thugs armed with guns, knives and all sorts of dangerous weapons, scared away the electorate from their various units,” Adegoke said.
Speaking on their plight, the candidates of different political parties said they were ready to explore all lawful means to recover their mandate.
Specifically, the candidates said they were ready to go to the Election Petitions Tribunal to protest the injustice perpetrated against them.
Meanwhile, the father of the missing man, Mr ‘Rufus Adetokunbo, said his son left home to vote in Ward 9, around Ayeyemi Junction in Ondo city and never returned home.
The father, however, said some pieces of information reaching him suggested that some armed men in military uniform waylaid him and whisked him away.
“I am begging INEC and Ondo State government to help me search for my son; Ebenezer is an easy going child and he only went out to exercise his civic right as a responsible and patriotic Nigerian,” the man said.
Reacting to the action of the protesters, the APC, in a statement by the Publicity Secretary, Alex Kalejaye, said the allegation is not only fraudulent, baseless and unfounded; it is incongruous with the anti-corruption stance of the APC-led government.
“To the leadership of the APC, every election is an opportunity to gauge the party’s strength and popularity, therefore, we ensure vigorous but peaceful campaigns, stating in unambiguous terms our plans and vision for the people.
“The House of Assembly election on the 9th of March emphasised the fact that the good people of Ondo State still appreciate the APC as a party that cares for the genuine development of the state.
“The election in the state was largely and reasonably fair and peaceful, except in a few local government areas,” he said.
While alleging that Idanre was militarised on the election day, Kalejaye called on the military command to investigate the roles played by its officers before and during the House of Assembly election in Idanre and ensure appropriate sanction.
“The APC will challenge the illegality perpetrated in Idanre and other places in the state, with a view to retrieving our stolen mandate,” he said.