INEC: Edo Election Puts Us under Pressure in Ondo

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• Jegede alleges attack on team in Akeredolu’s LG

By James Sowole

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday said that the successes recorded in the recently conducted Edo State governorship election has put the commission under more pressure as preparation continues for the October 10 poll in Ondo State.

This is coming as the Eyitayo Jegede Campaign Organisation yesterday alleged a fresh attack on its campaign team at Ipele in Owo Local Government Area of Ondo State, the council of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu.

The Head of Voter Education and Publicity of INEC in Ondo State, Ms. Rosemary Adeniyi, stated this yesterday at the opening of Workshop for Training of Community Voter Education Providers, organised by the European Centre for Election Support (ECES) in conjunction with INEC.

Adeniyi, who was presented by her deputy, Mr. Babalola Lebile, said importance of voter education cannot be overemphasised describing the exercise as crucial to election.

Speaking at the event, the ECES Senior Project Officer, Mr Sylvester Somo, said voter education is a major solution to reduce apathy.

Somo told participants, who were drawn from the 18 local government areas of Ondo State, that their mission, was to assist INEC in the task of educating voters on what they should do and not do during election.

He said: “Your mission is to assist the INEC in the task of delivering a free, fair, inclusive, efficient, cost-effective election, strengthening Democratic values by increasing voter education and the turn-out.

“The focus is on how to vote rather than whom to vote for, providing necessary knowledge regarding how and where to cast their votes especially in line with the COVID-19 protocols.”

The project officer told the participants, when carrying out their assignments to take into consideration, the literacy level of the electorate and to address them in simple and clear language to the electorate.

“Electorate must be educated to ensure that the number of invalid votes is reduced to the barest minimum.

“The number of people that voted during an election should justify that the will of the majority prevails. So you are to go out and educate the people on the need to come out and cast their votes in the day of election.”

Meanwhile, the Eyitayo Jegede Campaign Organisation yesterday alleged a fresh attack on its campaign team at Ipele in Owo LGA of Ondo State.

The organisation, in a statement alleged that some people suspected to be supporters of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) perpetrated the attack to stop the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, Mr. Eyitayo Jegede, from campaigning at Ipele.

According to the organisation, the suspected hoodlums blocked access to the palace of the king and the maternal home of the PDP candidate in a bid to deny him access to both places earlier scheduled to be visited by the candidate.

The organisation said: “Prior to our entry into Ipele, touts and miscreants under the APC had unleashed terror on our members with several casualties.

“These miscreants were dispersed by a joint team of police and NSCDC officers.”

However, the organisation blamed the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) of Ipele for arresting six members of the PDP, including the youth leader whose hands had been broken by the attackers and beaten to a coma.

It said: “We would like to warn the APC and its outgoing government to know very clearly that no single individual has the monopoly of violence.

“While we are very cautious about the broad implication of promoting violence in this election, we however would not be intimated in our pursuit of victory in at the polls.

“The organisation accused the DPO of gross negligence of his duties to protect the people and collusion with the APC to harass and intimidate our members.

“We also call for the immediate and unconditional release of our members who were arrested and are being detained on the orders of the DPO and may be charged by the police on trumped-up charges.”

The campaign organisation called on the police authorities to warn its officers to abide by the rules and not to serve as agents of provocation in the hands of the government.

All efforts to get the reaction of the Akeredolu’s Campaign Organisation, proved abortive.