Ekiti council poll: Plagued by controversies, violence
The just-concluded local government election in Ekiti was not free from the general malaise that afflicts conduct of such elections all over the country. Just like what has become the norm, last week’s local government poll was controversial.
Although, Section 7(1) of the 1999 Constitution provides that: “The system of local government by democratically elected local government councils is under this Constitution guaranteed; and accordingly, the government of every state shall, ensure their existence under a law which provides for the establishment, structure, composition, finance and functions of such councils,” in reality, the system have been bastardised by state governments over the years.
In the build up to the election, controversies began with the composition of the State Independent Electoral Commission. Following the composition of the electoral body by governor Kayode Fayemi, the Ekiti State Chapter of the Peoples Democratic party (PDP) accused Fayemi of appointing a “dismissed Justice Jide Aladejana as the chairman of the state Independent Electoral Commission,” saying that the appointment has created a burden on the Electoral body.
The party’s Publicity Secretary, Mr. Jackson Adebayo on behalf of PDP queried how an allegedly dismissed judge in the state judiciary could be made to head a sensitive body that is saddled with the conduct of Local government when there were many qualified Ekiti sons and daughters.
The Party reminded Governor Fayemi that all attempts by the dismissed judge to overturn his dismissal was overruled by the court at different level, hence he is not qualified to conduct elections, where people of integrity will contest.
PDP also pointed out that many of the members of the SIEC are card carrying members of the ruling party, saying that on this basis, Local government elections were stopped by court in the first term of Governor Fayemi when Mr. Soji Oloketuyi’s membership of SIEC was proved to be inappropriate because he was a card carrying member of the ruling party.PDP said it was ridiculous that the Governor could assemble people who are constitutionally barred to conduct elections in the state.
This claim by the PDP was dismissed as fake news by the SIEC. The SIEC’s Commissioner in charge of Media and Publicity, Chief Soji Oloketuyi, described the allegations as not only spurious but baseless. He said: “To the best of my knowledge, Justice Aladejana was never dismissed from the bench. He remains one of the most credible Ekiti men with dignity, so to us, we consider this a distraction. If those making the allegations are sure of themselves, let them show the proof of their accusation.”
Oloketuyi also said he was eminently qualified to be a member of SIEC, contrary to the position canvassed by the PDP. He said he was never a card- carrying member of any political party. “I was appointed an Electoral Commissioner during the first term of Governor Ayodele Fayose and now reappointed by Governor Kayode Fayemi. This was an eloquent testimony to my integrity as a former public servant. I worked in the civil service and retired as the immediate past Public Relations Officer at the Federal Polytechnic, Ado Ekiti, so I never carried the card of any political Party,’ he said.Hardly had the controversies generated by the composition of the SIEC died, when the PDP announced it would boycott the election over alleged plot to rig by the ruling party.
In a statement signed and made available to newsmen by Yinka Olomofe on behalf of Ado-Ekiti Council Stakeholders, the party directed its members to distance themselves from the election believed to have a predetermined outcome. The PDP alleged that information available revealed that Governor Fayemi had allegedly perfected plans to rig the exercise using political thugs. They also alleged that the chairman EKSIEC, Justice Aladejana lacked the moral authority to superintend the electoral body. The party claimed SIEC was not capable of conducting free, fair and credible election since the electoral body was allegedly under the whims and caprices of Governor Fayemi.
However, the party was to later make a U-turn and declared its readiness to participate in the same election, saying that those that distanced the PDP from the election did not have the mandate of the party.Worried about the dimension the electioneering was taking, Governor Fayemi warned that the election was not worth spilling the blood of anyone.The governor then cautioned those he described as troublemakers who might want to derail the election and not allow it to represents democracy at its very best.
In a dramatic twist, the PDP lost seven serving local government chairmen elected on its platform to the APC. They swapped the umbrella for the broom at a rally held at the Fajuyi Pavilion where they were received into the APC.The local government chairmen who defected to APC along with their supporters, described Fayemi as a true leader who plays inclusive politics and never victimised them since coming to power last year. They are Ayodeji Daniel ( Ekiti West), Abiodun Dada (Ijero), Yemi Ayeni (Ikere), Tunde Aladegbami (Ido/Osi), Sikiru Ogundana (Ekiti East), Olubayode Okeya (Emure) and Yemi Owoeye (Efon).
Hardly had the dust settled on the defection of PDP chairmen, when another controversy reared its head. This time, it was the issue of who was eligible to vote on the day of election. The state government was quoted as having said, that people without Voter Card could cast their votes in the election using other means of identification.
The move was rejected by the PDP, which said such directive contravened relevant sections of the Constitution and the Electoral Act.State Commissioner for Information and Values Orientation, Chief Muyiwa Olumilua, was quoted as having said that residents without voter cards would be allowed to vote during the exercise, so long as they possess either the National Identity Card or Drivers Licence.
According to him, affected people must however be those who had earlier registered as voters with INEC, but lost their Voter Card, due to one circumstance or the other. He however said that for those category of people to be allowed to vote, their names must first appear on INEC register, to be displayed at every polling centre.
But reacting, the PDP spokesperson, Adebayo, said any strange guideline or law made by the state government, through the Ekiti State Independent Electoral Commission, (EKSIEC), that runs contrary to the Constitution and the Electoral Act would be resisted by the party. The party said government and its agents at the EKSIEC had resorted to self-help, knowing that the election would not be business as usual. He maintained that such strange laws, being canvassed by the state government, was not in tandem with the regular laws in the country, advising government to rescind its decision before it was too late to avoid anarchy.
Despite the back and forth leading to the election, the poll itself witnessed low turnout of voters. In Ado Ekiti metropolis, the commercial motorcyclists, popularly called Okada riders were seen plying major roads, while traders opened their shops to make money despite the between 8am and 2pm restriction order announced by the police.
There were also pockets of violence as one person was shot at Okitiko area along ISe road in Ikere -Ekiti, when some political thugs tried to snatch ballot boxes from the SSIEC officials. The sound of gunshot from the polling unit made SIEC officials, and prospective voters take to their heels.
Commenting during voting exercise, the Speaker of the Ekiti State House of Assembly, Mr Funminiyi Afuye, who voted at St Johns Primary School in Ikere Ekiti declared support for e-voting electoral system, saying he was ready to support any action that will improve the country’s electioneering.
Afuye described the election as peaceful and devoid of actions that could truncate free and fair outcome. “Though the turnout was a little bit low, but it was peaceful. The reason could not have been unconnected with the impression by the Peoples Democratic Party that the All Progressives Congress will win all the seats, but Governor Fayemi believes in democracy and allows free and fair process.
The APC state chairman, Mr. Paul Omotoso, who voted at Imesi Ekiti in Gbonyin local government commended the peaceful nature of the poll, praising Fayemi for setting a pace on how best to conduct a credible poll.Olumilua, who voted at Community Pilot School, polling unit 006, Oke Osun ward in Ikere , praised the SIEC for the smooth conduct of the election.
But the Chairman of the PDP in the state, Mr. Gboyega Oguntuase, described the poll as anything but free.He said; “from what we hear all over, the election is riddled with violence, the election obviously as expected in an APC state is not fair. As I speak with you, it is believed that they have shot one person dead as one or two persons received gunshots. In ikole local government, the number of boxes that were to go to Ijesa isu, Odo oro, ward 4 in Ikole, all of them were reduced. Where the boxes were, nobody could account for them.
“ That is a clear case of ballot stuffing. In Ise orun, very early in the morning, they unleashed terror on PDP people, seized all the ballot boxes from the units. The same thing applies to Emure, Ekiti East. All over Ekiti State, the elections have been riddled with immense violence and denial of people to exercise their rights. Can any reasonable person accept the result of an election that is riddled with violence and fraud? It is clear. We won’t accept it.”
However, after the collation of results, the candidates of the APC were declared winners of all the16 chairmanship seats out of 14 political parties that participated in the election including the APC and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).The PDP only had a good showing in Ekiti East local government, where the candidate got 4,033 votes to emerge the runner up.
Meanwhile, former Deputy Governor of Ekiti State and PDP governorship candidate in the 2018 election, Prof Kolapo Olusola has condemned the killing of a member of the party, Dotun Kosedake in Ikere Ekiti.Kolapo said, apart from Dotun Kosedake who was killed, Ayeni Olumide, Ayeni Gbenga, and Abiodun Bukola were also shot and were in critical conditions at the Ekiti State University Teaching Hospital, Ado Ekiti.
The former deputy governor, who visited the three injured persons on behalf of former Governor Ayodele Fayose, called on security agencies in the state to bring the culprits to justice.The PDP promptly rejected the results of the election, calling for outright cancellation.
The Governor, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Yinka Oyebode expressed satisfaction at the general conduct of the election. He congratulated all APC members that were newly elected chairmen and councillors of the 16 local government councils.
The Governor commiserated with the family of Kosedake, who was killed in the fracas that took place in Ikere-Ekiti, on the day of the election.He lauded the professionalism of the EKSIEC officials under the leadership of Justice Jide Aladejana, saying that the hitch-free nature of the election was a reflection of their professional conduct.
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