The rerun governorship election in Ekiti State finally ended in confusion on Tuesday as the Peoples Democratic Party and the Action Congress disagreed on the outcome of the poll announced by the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mrs. Ayoka Adebayo.
Adebayo‘s declaration that the candidate of the PDP, Mr. Segun Oni, won the rerun election sparked violence in the state capital, Ado-Ekiti, as youths took to the streets setting bonfires at strategic locations.
Many streets in the state capital were deserted as residents, sensing danger, locked themselves in their houses as protests spread to other parts of the state.
Men of the Nigeria Police Force, however, dispersed some of the youths with tear gas at about 9.20pm after the REC had been ferried out of the collation centre amidst tight security.
Adebayo finally signed the result at 9pm amidst deafening noise of disapproval by many of the AC supporters at the venue.
Trouble started at the Christ Girls School, Ado-Ekiti, the collation centre, where the REC announced the results of the entire exercise and declared the winner.
Each of the returning officers for the five remaining local government areas which had been suspended since April 26 announced the results of their respective local governments.
The announcement that the PDP won the election at Ido-Osi Local Government Area with 15,939 as against AC‘s 3,639 sparked a massive row as agents of the AC candidate, Mr. Femi Falana, and another chieftain of the AC in the state, Mr. Bimbo Daramola, raised an objection.
They queried the acceptance of the results from Ido-Osi which had been a major source of controversy since April 26 when the REC declined to announce the remaining results and disappeared from the state.
Falana and Daramola were, however, countered by a chieftain of the PDP, Senator Femi Kila, and the former Commissioner for Justice under the ousted Oni administration, Mr. Gboyega Oyewole.
While the PDP had claimed that it won the Ido-Osi poll, the AC said that the votes in eight out of the 11 wards were not collated at INEC – designated centres and that no agent of AC witnessed the collation; making the results to be suspect.
The acceptance of the Ido-Osi results by the REC had culminated in supporters of the two parties engaging in an exchange of words, forcing her to suspend further announcement of the final winner of the election.
The atmosphere became charged as the AC supporters insisted that the REC must explain how the commission accepted the Ido-Osi result.
The situation degenerated to a level where the security operatives, led by an Assistant Inspector-General of Police, became perplexed.
One of the supporters of the AC, whose identity could not be ascertained, consistently asked the REC, ”Where is the conscience that you said you had? Are you about selling it? How and why did you resign?”
At a point during the rowdy session, the AC supporter offered himself to be killed by the police, who had wanted to forcibly make him to sit down.
While supporters of the AC were chanting, ”All we are saying, no more rigging. All we are saying; give us the real count,” their counterparts in the PDP sang ”All we are saying; announce the figures.”
Apparently confused, Adebayo was sandwiched between heavily armed security men as she watched the confusion without uttering a word.
When she finally spoke, she said any aggrieved party could challenge her decision in court.
The shouting match continued for more than one hour as supporters of the two candidates were at each other‘s throats despite the presence of the security men.
Lagos State Commissioner for Information, Mr. Opeyemi Bamidele, who is an indigene of the state, told journalists amidst the rowdy session that his party was rejecting the results.
He said, ”We were in Oye today and in spite of their claim of 18,000 voters, only about 2,000 votes were recorded in a well-policed poll. Where did INEC get the 15,000 votes for the PDP in Ido-Osi?”
Earlier in the day at the twice rescheduled election in two remaining wards of Oye Local Government Area, most voters stayed indoors following heavy presence of soldiers, policemen and men of the State Security Service.
At the end of the exercise in Oye, Oni got 1,236 while the candidate of the AC, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, scored 830 votes.
Two men who insisted on voting without having their names on the voter register were handcuffed and whisked away, while a young lady who insisted that her father‘s façade would not be used as polling unit was also arrested.
The lady had complained loudly that the last time election was held in the place, some thugs shot into the house and injured an old man.
The security was coordinated by senior police officers led by a Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Mr. John Ahmadu, while the state Director of the SSS, Mrs. Florence Ekanone, led operatives of the service.
Decked in bullet-proof vests marked Operation Flush, the SSS men combed the nooks and crannies of Oye, from where they supplied the policemen at the polling units with security reports.
A former Governor of the state, Chief Niyi Adebayo, led the AC monitors; while a former Deputy Governor of the state, Chief Abiodun Olujinmi, led PDP monitors.
The state Chairman of the PDP, Mr. Bola Olu-Ojo; Chairman, Ado-Ekiti Local Government, Mrs. Tosin Aluko; and other council chairmen witnessed the election for the PDP.
The state chairman of the AC, Chief Jide Awe, and lawmakers elected on the platform of the party were also on hand to witness the poll.
At St. Peter and Paul‘s Primary School, Unit I Ward I where Olu-Ojo and Olujinmi, had altercations with AC’s Daramola.
Daramola had protested against what he called the ”comfortable presence” of the PDP leaders at the polling centre, while his members were kept at bay.
The intervention of senior police officers, who excused the PDP leaders from the centre, saved what could have degenerated into physical combat between the PDP chairman and the AC leader.
Shortly after, the arrival of two PDP leaders at the same unit – the Chairman of the National Poverty Eradication Programme, Mr. Ayo Omodara and Senator Ayo Arise – also attracted loud protests from the AC members.
The arrival of soldiers on the scene a few minutes later restored sanity as a combined team of law enforcement agents took over security at the centre.
The general low turnout of voters was more evident at Ward 2, Unit 15, adjacent Arise‘s house, where only nine people voted as against the 768 names listed on the voter register.
This was confirmed by the Presiding Officer, Mr. Augustine Arikwandu.
Our correspondents gathered that Oni would be inaugurated again at the Government House in Ado-Ekiti at 10am today.