Ahead of the governorship election in Ondo State today, there were violent clashes among rival political party supporters in Akure and Owo on Thursday night and Friday.
The Independent National Electoral Commission said that 1,659,186 voters were registered for the election but 378,606 persons did not turn up to collect their PVCs.
Among the major contestants are Mr. Eyitayo Jegede of the Peoples Democratic Party; Chief Rotimi Akeredolu of the All Progressives Congress; Dr. Olu Agunloye of the Social Democratic Party and Olusola Oke of the Alliance for Democracy.
Others include the candidate of the Accord Party, Mr. Oladare Amuda; Mr. Yinka Orokoto of the Action Alliance; the candidate of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria, Chief Adetuwo Ogunjumelo; the candidate of the Citizens Popular Party, Mr. Peter Fasua; the candidate of the Labour Party, Adeuti Stephen; and the candidate of the Peoples Party of Nigeria, Mrs. Temidola Olagbegi.
Jegede’s name was included in the candidates’ list after the Court of Appeal compelled INEC to recognise him as the PDP candidate in the election instead of Jimoh Ibrahim.
On Friday, the governorship candidate of the New Nigeria People’s Party, Dr. Oluwadare Bada, withdrew from the race.
Director of Media, Bada’s Campaign Committee, Mr. Abiodun Oluwarotimi, confirmed the NNPP candidate’s withdrawal in a statement in Akure.
He cited pressure from his primary constituency as the reason for Bada’s action while calling on his supporters and polling agents to withdraw from further participation in the election. A source close to Bada’s camp, however, said that his withdrawal from the contest was part of a move to support Oke.
Violence in Owo
In Owo, one person was reportedly killed during a clash between the supporters of the APC and the PDP.
Properties worth millions of naira were reportedly destroyed in the clash while several people also sustained injuries.
The deceased was simply identified as an APC chieftain in the area, named Arogun. According to an eyewitness account, the clash occurred following Jegede’s visit to Owo for a campaign. There were also clashes in Iselu and Ehinogbe on Thursday.
The Public Relations Officer, Ondo State Police Command, Mr. Femi Joseph, told one of our correspondents that he had not been officially briefed about the incidents.
He said, “I don’t have the facts yet; I will let you know if I get the facts.”
For the election, the Federal Government said 26,000 policemen and 15,000 personnel from the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps had been deployed in the state to maintain law and order along with some army officers.
The Deputy Commandant of Operations, NSCDC, Mr. Kelechi Madu, said 25 sniffer dogs would be deployed in various strategic places for the poll.
Madu said the agency had mobilised commandants from Osun, Oyo, Ekiti, Ogun and Edo states for the poll.
Three helicopters and 20 gunboats were also deployed in riverine areas of the state to be used for monitoring the election.
Meanwhile, the police on Friday announced that it would enforce restriction of movement between 11.59pm on Friday and 8.00pm on Saturday.
Jimoh Ibrahim’s vehicles, offices destroyed
Despite not taking part in the race, Ibrahim’s campaign vehicles, billboards and offices were destroyed in Owo, Ondo and some other parts of the state on Thursday night.
Ibrahim was formerly the governorship candidate of the PDP in the state before the Court of Appeal ordered INEC to substitute his name for Jegede’s.
On Friday, Ibrahim, who spoke through the Director-General, Jimoh Ibrahim Campaign Organisation, Mr. Olabisi Johnson, condemned the attacks. He said some sponsored hoodlums attacked Ibrahim’s campaign office and damaged vehicles in the Ondo-West Local Government Area of the state.
Addressing journalists on the violent clashes on Friday, a factional Organising Secretary of the PDP, Patrick Olabisi, claimed that those who perpetrated the violence in Akure and Ondo were Jegede’s supporters.
He said, “The suspected thugs were heavily armed and they demolished all Ibrahim’s billboards in the town. They also destroyed the campaign office and vehicles.”
He explained that the timely intervention of policemen forestalled further breakdown of law and restored peace to Ondo.
Johnson, who condemned the attacks, described the destruction of properties as uncalled for.
But in a swift reaction, the Chairman, PDP in Ondo-West Local Government Area, Mr. Kayode Ijilegan, dismissed the claim that the hoodlums were Jegede’s supporters.
Ijilegan, who is loyal to the Ahmed Makarfi-led faction of the party, said, “Our supporters were not responsible for the alleged destruction of the party’s campaign office. The claim that they are Jegede’s supporters is not also true. Our members and loyalists are law-abiding and will never jeopardise the existing peace in the state.”
Speaking with one of our correspondents, a factional chairman of the party in the state, Biyi Poroye, appealed to supporters of his faction not to take the law into their hands. He said there was nothing to gain from perpetrating violence.
He said, “We want to appeal to people not to attack anybody or insult anybody but to mind their businesses and believe ultimately in the Almighty God because it is God that gives power.”
Mimiko alleges APC plans to rig
Ondo State Governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, on Friday alleged that the APC was planning to use the federal might to rig the state governorship election, saying that the PDP would reject any attempt to manipulate the process.
The governor also alleged that some APC chieftains at the national level were planning to use INEC to rig the election, as it was allegedly done in Edo State.
While speaking with journalists in Akure, Mimiko also alleged that the electoral body was not being fair to the PDP by not postponing the election to give room for the party to have access to the voter’s register.
He further alleged that INEC refused to receive the list of the agents of the party’s candidate, Jegede, 48 hours before the election.
He said, “INEC did not release the list of voter’s register to the PDP until yesterday (Thursday), in clear infraction of its own laws and against its advertised timetable and schedule of activities for the Ondo State election. INEC refused to publish Eyitayo Jegede’s name for 30 days as stipulated in Section 34 of the Electoral Act 2010.
“INEC denied Eyitayo Jegede the right to submit his party agents’ list at least seven days before the election, as stipulated in Section 45 of the Electoral Act 2010, among many others. As we speak, collation tags for ward collation officers are not available for PDP ward agents.
“More than the above, the agents on INEC’s list are agents submitted by a man already aptly described by the courts as an impostor, who has also openly showed he is working as a fifth columnist in the Ondo State election. We were expected to run a race with our hands tied behind our back while INEC also goes ahead to foist a ‘wuruwuru to the answer’ result.”
The governor urged the people to defend their votes and not allow any alteration of result from anywhere during the election.
He said, “As we make the sacred choice of electing a worthy governor, we must exercise the greatest level of diligence and vigilance. I urge you all to vote and defend your votes. Your vote is your power; use it wisely and protect it jealously.”
Reacting to the allegation by Mimiko, the Publicity Secretary of the APC in the state, Mr. Abayomi Adesanya, denied the allegation, describing it as frivolous and a mere excuse for failure on the part of the PDP.
He said, “It is not true, we don’t have any plan to rig the election, our target is the electorate. The PDP has lost this election already because of its unresolved internal crisis. The party is only looking for an excuse to hinge its failure on.
“We have prepared for the election; we have gone to the length and breadth of the state. Since the PDP has canvassed for postponement and failed, that is why it was raising the allegation that we want to rig the election. We are not preparing to rig the election, we are preparing to win the election and we are going to have a landslide victory.”
The APC is adjudged to be strong in some local government areas like Owo, where Akeredolu hails from; Odigbo; Akoko South-East; Akoko South-West; Akoko North-East; and Akoko North-West.
Owing to the agitation that the governorship position should be shifted to the Ondo South Senatorial District of the state, which has six local government areas (Ile-Oluji/Oke-Igbo, Odigbo, Okitipupa, Irele, Ilaje and Ese-Odo), the people of the senatorial district are expected to give massive votes to the candidate of the AD, Oke, who is from Ilaje Local Government Area.
It is also believed in some quarters that the SDP candidate, Agunloye, might gain the upper hand in the four local governments in Akokoland, where he hails from.
In some quarters, there has been growing clamour that someone from Akoko should be the next governor of the state.
Jegede, an indigene of Akure in Akure South Local Government Area of the state, could sweep the votes in the six local government areas of the Central Senatorial District of the state, which include, Akure South, Akure North, Ifedore, Ondo South and Ondo West.
The six local governments in the Central Senatorial District are believed to be the stronghold of the PDP candidate through the influence of the governor and the party chairman in the state, Clement Faboyede, coupled with the fact that none of the other prominent parties picked any candidate and deputy candidate from the area.