By Olagoke Olatayo
There were allegations and counter-allegations of money-induced voting levelled against each other by politicians in the conduct of Saturday governorship election in Ekiti.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Correspondents, who monitored the election report that incidences of vote buying were recorded in many polling centres visited.
Concerned individuals, who are also voters, alleged that some people believed to be working for politicians, suddenly arrived various polling centres and offered money to induce those already on queues to vote for their candidates.
They, however, claimed that such offers were not done in the open, as it used to be in the past, apparently to avoid the attention of eagle-eye security men on duty.
NAN gathered that they quietly invited the prospective voters to a corner, a little far away from the voting unit, to collect the money.
It was learnt such development was prevalent in Ado-Ekiti and Ikole-Ekiti among many other major towns.
It was gathered that a minimum sum of between N5,000, N7,000 and N10,000, was allegedly shared to the willing voters.
A voter, who is also a former Deputy Speaker of the State House of Assembly, confirmed the development to newsmen at his Isaba-Ekiti hometown, in Ikole-Ekiti Local Government area.
He said that monies were freely shared by some party loyalists, but refused to mention the identities or parties involved.
However, many of the voters interviewed said vote buying were recorded in many polling centres in the governorship election.
The electorate, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that some party officials were going round the polling boots to induce the electorate on queues with money.
Contrary to the allegation, electorate at Ikogosi-Ekiti, the country home of Mr Biodun Oyebanji, the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, said there was no trace of vote buying in the areas while voting was going on.
NAN Correspondent who monitored the exercise in Ikogosi-Ekiti and its environs gathered that the electorate conducted themselves in a peaceful manner.
Some of the electorate told NAN at different polling units in Ikogosi-Ekiti, that they voted for the candidate of their choices without collecting any dime from any party agent.
Commenting, Mrs Bosede Ige, said that the age of collecting money before voting had gone in Ekiti.
“I can’t trade my future over a token of money. I am here to exercise my civic rights as an electorate.
“I urge other electorate to vote according to their consciences and ignore any monetary inducement from the politicans,” Ige said.
In the same vein, an Octogenarian, Pa Philips Adeuya, said that this was first of its kind in the history of the town, where all electorate would comport themselves in a peaceful manner and shun any inducement from any party.
“I can state authoritatively that there is no vote buying here, but I wouldn’t say about other areas of the state,” Adeuya said.
Reacting to the allegations, Mrs Kemi Elebute-Halle, the Candidate of the Action Democratic Party (ADP), denied ever introducing vote buying mentality to her followers.
Elebute-Halle told NAN in Oke-Aiyedun Ekiti that she was never in support of corruptive means to earn vote and also denied bribing voters to vote for her.
“I wish to state clearly that I was never in support of vote buying; I will never indulge in such corruptive act.
“My followers are not corrupt people and will never descend so low to collecting stipends from any politician to vote for them.
“We are law abiding people and I will not do anything that will tarnish my good image and that of the party’s integrity.
“I am aware that my people are voting en masses for me and in spite of the fact that I did not give them a dime.
“I want to urge the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to investigate other political parties that are currently buying votes,” she said.
Also, Chief Bisi Kolawole, the Peoples Democratic Party,(PDP) Governorship candidate in Ekiti, exonerated his party from any allegation of vote buying during the conduct of Saturday governorship election.
Kolawole said his party, PDP, do not have money that it could used to buy votes, explaining that his party had campaigned very hard, believing that the electorate would vote massively for it without any inducement.
The PDP governorship candidate, while answering questions from newsmen at Efon-Alaaye, said: “We heard that there were cases of votes buying in Ado-Ekiti. We are not in government, PDP do not have money for vote buying.
“We have campaigned, worked very hard and left the people to vote according to their consciences.
“We know the situation is almost unbearable in Ekiti, look at the deplorable roads for example in a local government area headquarters. Can you imagine this kind of thing?
“This is enough reason for voters to vote against the ruling party and vote for the opposition party.
“So far, we are very sure that the people will vote enmasse for PDP and at the end of the day, Bisi Kolawole will emerge as the incoming Governor of Ekiti.”
Meanwhile, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) said it has arrested some people alleged to have engaged in vote buying in the Ekiti governorship election.
The EFCC is part of the security agencies deployed to monitor the election.
Parading some of the suspects at the Oke-Ori Omi Area Division of the Nigerian Police Force, the suspects were said to have been caught with monies allegedly used to induce voters, an act the EFCC officials said were carried out surreptitiously.(NAN)