The Independent National Electoral Commission has said it will probe the conduct and the outcome of the Ekiti State governorship election.
The National Commissioner in charge of Voter Education and Publicity, Prince Solomon Soyebi, revealed this to one of our correspondents in Abuja on Monday.
Soyebi, who was in charge of the Ekiti election, said the investigation would be a holistic one and the result would be made public soon after.
He said, “We will investigate the conduct and every other aspect of the election very soon and we will carry members of the public along.”
TMG, TI, SERAP condemn vote-buying in Ekiti gov poll
This is just as groups, including the Transparency International, the Socio-Economic Right and Accountability Project; and the Transition Monitoring Group on Monday condemned vote-buying during Saturday’s governorship election in Ekiti State.
The groups, in separate interviews with The PUNCH, said vote-buying, had endangered the country’s democracy and could affect the credibility of the election.
They said this just as the Police Service Commission stated that it had received 35 complaints bordering on vote- buying, financial inducement and restiveness in some polling units during Saturday’s Ekiti governorship election.
Condemning the monetisation of the election, TI and SERAP said political parties that were not satisfied with the results must not resort to violence but seek redress at the tribunal.
Vote-buying will affect credibility of elections – TI
The Head of TI Nigeria, Musa Rafsanjani, in an interview with The PUNCH, said, “There have been allegations against both parties (the APC and the PDP) of financial inducements of voters. This is a very fundamental problem of the electoral system in the country which political parties and politicians have promoted. This will affect the credibility of the elections. This allegation is not peculiar to only these parties; it is done by all the political parties. The electorate must not allow themselves to be used for money politics.
“The truth of the matter is that Ekiti election started with a lot of uncertainties. There was a lot of insensible politics which made the runoff to the election look like a war.”
Monetisation of votes must stop – SERAP
Also, the SERAP Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, said the monetisation of the electoral process had been in the country for a long time.
He stated, “Let whoever is dissatisfied with the process take the appropriate steps which is to go before the court and try to upturn the election results, but something must be done about the monetisation of the electoral process. It is showing us in a bad light in the view of the international and domestic observers who witnessed the election.”
Vote-buying, a bad omen –TMG
Also, a coalition of over 400 civil society organisations, under the aegis of the TMG, said that there was a systemic case of vote-buying and financial inducement of voters in the election.
The TMG, in a statement by its chairperson, Dr. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, however, said the election was largely peaceful.
It specifically expressed concern over the massive deployment of security agencies and personnel in the election.
According to the group, Nigeria should be working towards a less-policed electoral process in subsequent elections to avoid intimidation and voter apathy.
It said, “The TMG is of the opinion that mobilising the whole gamut of the country’s security infrastructure is not necessary as this could intimidate voters and further drive voter apathy which is a key concern for the electoral process, looking at the discrepancy between the number of registered voters and those who actually voted.”
The group called on Nigerians to shun financial inducement, adding that this would have a far-reaching implication on the relationship that evolved between elected leaders and the people in the quest for accountability.
“The TMG is concerned about the growing trend of vote-buying by political parties and contestants in elections. This practice is becoming the norm with political parties trying to outwit each other in the sums paid to voters. This practice is a bad omen for the country’s democracy.”
We received 35 complaints of vote-buying – Police commission
Meanwhile, the PSC in a statement on its assessment of the poll said that its officials led by the Permanent Secretary, Musa Istifanus, revealed that there were few cases of disorder at some polling units.
The commission stated that the police and other security agencies ensured that the election was peaceful.
It stated that its team monitored the conduct of police officers in 45 polling units in all the three senatorial zones of the state covering 14 out of the 16 local government areas of the state.
The commission said that it received allegation of vote-buying by political parties. “The team received 35 complaints from the voters, party agents and observers through dedicated lines earlier circulated to both the electorate and party agents within Ekiti and outside the state.
“Some of the messages centred on vote -buying, financial inducement and restiveness in some polling units. Specifically, there was a case of the arrest and detention of party agents at Aramoko Police Division which was resolved with the intervention of the commission,” the PSC said in the statement by its spokesman, Ikechukwu Ani.
“In cases where a party agent violated the electoral law, the commission advised the police to allow the person to carry out his duty after which he could be arrested after the election.
“The commission wishes to advise that the police, in such instances where an agent commits an offence, he/she be allowed to carry out his legal duties and be arrested at the end of the voting, counting and signing of the result sheet in order to avoid sending a wrong impression that the security agencies may be biased,” it noted.
Police keep mum
When contacted for response to the commission’s statement on vote- buying, the police spokesman, Jimoh Moshood, failed to respond to several phone calls.
He had yet to react to a text message inquiring whether the police would investigate the complaints of voters’ inducement by political parties.
In their preliminary assessment, the Centre for Democracy and Development and the Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism, said that security operatives were observed preventing voters from taking their phones into the voting booths.
This, the group said, was because the voters were taking pictures of their ballot papers as evidence of their vote in order to claim incentives from agents of political parties at the polling units.
The coalition in a statement by the CDD Director, Idayat Hassan and Premium Times Publisher, Dapo Olorunyomi, noted that the election witnessed an unprecedented level of vote trading, a trend which it observed, was fast becoming a norm in Nigerian elections.
It said, ”For example, one party agent was caught on video by PTCIJ’s and CDD’s observer sharing N5, 000 to voters in PU012, Igbemo Ward of Irepodun-Ifelodun LGA.
“Another party agent in Ward C, Olanrewaju, PU 6, was photographed by one of our observers giving money to voters who already cast their votes.”
The centre added, “There were also incidences recorded attempts by thugs affiliated to two leading political parties to hijack voting materials. Our observers witnessed efforts made by some party thugs in Ward 3 PU004, Ikole LGA to snatch ballot boxes.
“Our observers confirmed that one of the thugs was taken away in an NSCDC vehicle. At Efon LGA, a ballot box was seized in Ward 6 PU 12, by political thugs and, in a similar vein; a gunshot by unknown gunmen was reported in Ward 9 PU5 at Olumushe in Ado Ekiti.”
Don’t mistake rigging for acceptance, PDP tells Buhari, APC
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party, whose candidate, Prof. Olusola Kolapo, was defeated by the All Progressives Congress candidate, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, hit the Presidency and the APC again on Monday.
The PDP said the APC and the Presidency should not mistake the alleged rigging in the Saturday’s governorship election in Ekiti State as acceptance by Nigerians.
The party declared that it was shameful for President Muhammadu Buhari, who it said claimed to be an anti-corruption champion, to glee over what it described as act of electoral corruption that it warned was capable of truncating the nation’s democratic process.
The PDP said it found it strange that the President could not condemn the alleged emasculation and subversion of the will of Ekiti people and the alleged stealing of another party’s victory by what it called brute force.
A statement by the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, in Abuja, also said that the PDP noted the alleged unsavoury statements by the Presidency, celebrating the alleged subjugation of Ekiti people as a stamp for President Buhari.
He said, “If, for President Buhari and the APC, the subjugation of the people, as witnessed in Ekiti, amounts to an election, then the nation is headed to a serious crisis, as such will be resisted with all legitimate forces available within our laws in the defence of our nation’s democracy.
“The APC and the Independent National Electoral Commission must note that what happened in Ekiti, as a single state, cannot be pulled through in a general election, especially where the people have made up their minds to seek a new president.
“Nigeria is too big and too complex to be subjugated by a single individual or group of individuals, as any attempt to do so will definitely consume the conspirators.
“Moreover, while we are still pursuing the recovery of our stolen mandate in Ekiti, we state in very strong terms that this will be the last time the PDP will, under any circumstance whatsoever, allow itself to be manipulated out at the polls at any level.”
He urged members and supporters of the PDP to continue to remain calm over the alleged daylight robbery that he said happened in Ekiti State, despite the alleged provocations by the APC and the Presidency.
He said that leaders of the party were already making efforts to redress the injustice that he said was meted out to the party in Ekiti State.
We’ll reclaim stolen mandate in court – Fayose
Also, the Ekiti State Governor, Ayo Fayose, said the PDP would reclaim its victory in court. The governor, in a series of tweets on Twitter on Monday, scolded President Buhari, claiming the Federal Government used “the police, the army, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps and INEC to snatch the mandate.”
Fayose said, “On this Ekiti election, President Buhari demonstrated truly that he is not a democrat, but a dictator and fascist par excellence. The President should bury his head in shame for using the police, army, the NSCDC and INEC to snatch the mandate given to Olusola (Eleka) and deliver it to (Kayode) Fayemi.”
Result, a true reflection of people’s will – APC
But the National Chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole, said the outcome of the election was a true reflection of the will of the people.
He said the party was still in a celebratory mood not just because of the fact that its candidate, Fayemi, won but also because the process was transparent.
Oshiomhole stated this while speaking to reporters at the party’s national secretariat, in Abuja, on Monday.
He said, “We are particularly excited not because we won, but like we said the last time, what matters to us is the process rather than the outcome.
“We just want to make sure that the results of elections reflect the will of the people. You will also recall that there were issues about police deployment.
“I am very happy that all the commentators and observers including the European Union are happy that the election was free of violence and that the process was free and fair. We cannot ask for more.”
Coalition protests alleged election rigging at US embassy
Meanwhile, a coalition of civil society groups on Monday protested the alleged rigging of Ekiti governorship election at the United States Embassy in Abuja.
Numbering over 20 youths, the group walked to the barricade at the embassy where they were stopped by armed police officers guarding the mission.
The group carried huge banners with inscriptions, ‘Save Nigeria Democracy,’ ‘Nigerian democracy under threat,’ and others.
The protesters alleged that the Ekiti poll was marred by gross irregularities and financial inducement of voters, noting that democracy was dying under the APC.
“We call on the United States of America to save democracy in Nigeria; the rigging of Ekiti election was capable of truncating democracy in Nigeria,” the coalition stated.
The group dispersed shortly after submitting a petition to the embassy.
Fayose’s defeat will end stomach infrastructure, says Sagay
But, the Chairman, Presidential Advisory Against Corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), hailed the ouster of the PDP in Ekiti, adding that it would mark the end of stomach infrastructure.
Sagay said this during an interview with one of our correspondents on Monday.
The PACAC chairman described the outgoing governor as a person who exploited the poverty of his people for personal gain.
He said, “I think Ekiti people have restored their sense of self-respect and dignity because to have elected a Fayose was a self-inflicted insult and he insulted them by saying he won election on the grounds of promising them stomach infrastructure.
“It was a very big insult because what he was saying is that the Ekiti people live solely for the sake of eating. That is why stomach infrastructure was a very big insult. And he insulted them for four years; he ran the state down.
“He didn’t pay salaries. Altogether, he was a disaster. So, this election was a way of voting Fayose out because I don’t think his deputy was the real candidate. In voting out Fayose, Ekiti people have restored their sense of self-respect and we will no longer call them stomach infrastructure state but as a serious people who look at their progress instead of food.”
Sagay advised Fayose and his team not to bother going to court but accept the result in the spirit of sportsmanship.
He said when the PDP rigged the election in 2014 Fayose did not complain “but is now crying foul because the results don’t favour him.”
The senior advocate lamented the issue of vote- buying in the last Saturday election but argued that it could not have affected the outcome of the election since both sides engaged in it.