February 20, 2024

Supporters of the All Progressives Congress in Ekiti State erupted in jubilation in the early hours of today (Sunday) when the results of Saturday’s governorship election showed that the candidate of the party, Mr Biodun Oyebanji, trounced the 15 other candidates that partook in the exercise.

Oyebanji, who is the immediate past Secretary to the State Government, won in 15 out of the 16 Local Government Areas of the state. He polled 187,057 votes.

However, his closest challenger, Mr Segun Oni, of the Social Democratic Party, scored 82,211 votes while the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Bisi Kolawole, scored 67,457 votes. Kolawole won his LGA, Efon, where he scored 6,303 to beat APC’s 4,012 and SDP’s 339 votes.

Meanwhile, our correspondents who monitored the exercise across the state reported that in Ado-Ekiti, the state capital, residents trooped to the streets to celebrate the victory in the dead of the night. At the Government House in the Oke Ayoba area of the town, other APC governors, led by the state governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi, monitored the exercise.

Similarly, in Ikogosi-Ekiti, Ekiti West Local Government Area, where Oyebanji hails from, residents also began celebrating the victory of their kinsman at the poll.

Also in Ikere-Ekiti, where Oyebanji’s running mate, Mrs Monitade Afuye, hails from, residents also began celebration as the results were announced by the respective local government Returning Officers.

In different parts of the state also, some members of the ruling party celebrated the victory, describing it as well-deserved.

Our correspondents observed that prior to the announcement of the results at the collation centre, all the results from the 16 local government areas had been uploaded on the Result Viewing Portal of the Independent National Electoral Commission, known as IReV.

Saturday PUNCH reported that the commission promised to adopt the electronic transmission of results, even though it would be complemented by manual transmission.

As of the time of filing this report at 2.10am, final collation was still ongoing, a precursor to the final announcement by the state’s Returning Officer.

However, there were isolated cases of violence in some polling units. For example, in Ekiti South-West Local Government Area, the APC scored 9,679 votes ahead of SDP’s 4,577 and PDP’s 4,474 votes. The Returning Officer for the LGA, Prof Gbolagade Jonathan, reported that there was violence in Units 5 and 7, where he said some hoodlums from nowhere carted away the ballot boxes, after firing gunshots.

Also, in Ikere LGA, the APC also won with 12,086 votes against the PDP and SDP, which scored 3,789 and 1943 respectively. The Returning Officer, Prof Emmanuel Ajava, announced that votes in Unit 2 of the LGA were cancelled due to violence.

Although the governorship election held across the 16 Local Government Areas and was relatively peaceful, incidents of vote-buying characterised the poll.

Candidates and agents of some political parties also alleged inducement of voters to deprive them of the opportunity of making their free choices.

It was gathered that some party agents were arrested by operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission over alleged vote-buying at a polling station at Ola Oluwa Grammar School, Ado Ekiti during the election.

A source, who spoke on the development, said the suspects were apprehended with a bag of cash allegedly being used to induce voters.

“One of the suspects, who claimed to be a party agent, was arrested and has been taken into custody,” the source said.

Parties allege vote-buying

The Social Democratic Party’s governorship candidate, Chief Segun Oni, who voted at Ward 2, Unit 6 in Ifaki-Ekiti his home town, complained of vote-buying in Ado Ekiti and Oye Ekiti.

Oni, who described vote-buying as a violation of the Electoral Act, said, “I have been told that selling and buying of votes are going on in Ado and Oye. This is not allowed by the law. I want security agents to move in and stop those doing that.”

Also, the governorship candidate of the African Democratic Congress, Dr Wole Oluyede, who voted at Igele Arokun Ward 3, Unit 6, Ikere Ekiti, said there was brazen vote-buying in the community allegedly perpetrated by agents of the All Progressives Congress.

Oluyede said, “The election today (Saturday) shows that we are not ready for democracy. The unfortunate thing is that those who took money do not want people to exercise their right to choose.

“Whatever is the outcome of the election does not reflect good governance and the wishes of the people. It does not reflect a good election. I wish Nigeria will be a better place for all of us.”

Similarly, the candidate of Action Democratic Party, Mrs Kemi Elebute-Halle, who voted at Unit 8, Ward 10, Odo Ayedun in Ikole LGA, lamented vote inducement, which she said did not make the election credible.

Elebute-Halle alleged, “In my polling unit, the APC gave N10, 000, the PDP gave N5, 000 while SDP gave N3, 000 per vote as inducement. The world is watching.”

The candidate, however, urged people to vote for a credible candidate, saying, “I want to rely on the commitment of our people to democracy. Irrespective of vote-buying, they would vote for me as their choice.”

Also, agents of the ADC and SDP at Ward 2 Unit 8, Iworoko, Ifelofun/Irepodun LGA of the state, alleged that a particular political party engaged in vote-buying.

The SDP agent, Bukunmi Oluwafemi, said the exercise was peaceful, observing that a party was involved in ‘see and buy,’ saying, “The voting went on well. People came out to vote. There is a party that is trying to do ‘see and buy’ but we have cautioned them.”

The ADC candidate, Yusuf Kehinde, who corroborated him, alleged that some people asked voters to reveal the party they voted for and collect money, saying, “They (voters) are showing their ballot papers to agents of a party and we said that shouldn’t be. A particular party is buying votes.”

But an APC agent, Muyideen Fatayo, who countered SDP and ADC agents, said, “There was no problem. Everything went well.”

His claim was also corroborated by the PDP agent in the ward, Matthew Fapohunda, who said the election was held without any hitch.

However, it was drama at Ward 10 Unit 9, Ilupeju along Ikere–Ado Expressway in Ikere Ekiti, Ikere LGA, as some officers of the state command of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps allegedly stormed the polling unit and took away huge sum of money from some politicians.

A voter in the unit, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the undisclosed amount of money hijacked by the security men was meant for vote-buying in the area.

“They (NSCDC officers) stormed this unit and harassed the person holding the money. They collected the money from him and took it away. We who voted for APC and waited to collect our money could not get the money. It is disappointing. We were told that the money is over N2m,” the source said.

Meanwhile, the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Funminiyi Afuye, who voted at Are/Araromi/Ayetoro Ward, Unit 009 Ikere Ekiti, said the vote-buying money allegedly seized by security agents was not from his party, APC, saying, “I am not aware of that. And if they seized money, it was not seized from my party.”

The APC candidate, Oyebanji, also denied reports that he wooed voters with money in his hometown.

Oyebanji, in a statement by his media aide, Raheem Akingbolu, titled, ‘Oyebanji didn’t give money to any voter,’ said, “Contrary to the malicious report, neither Oyebanji, nor any of his supporters gave money to anybody at any polling unit in Ikogosi. Aside from being Oyebanji’s town, the candidate enjoys overwhelming support in the community with optimism of recording a 100 per cent result.”

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