Nigeria; Ekiti Polls, deadlocked

Ado-Ekiti: Tension and suspense, which enveloped Ekiti State in the wake of last Saturday’s governorship rerun, continued yesterday as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) suspended the collation and announcement of results of the four remaining local governments in the state.

INEC also postponed the outstanding election in two wards in Oye-Ekiti Local Government indefinitely.
After violence was recorded last Saturday in Oye-Ekiti, the base of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Senator Ayo Arise, INEC initially postponed the election till yesterday. It later shifted the poll till today before eventually postponing it indefinitely.
Meanwhile, spirited moves by some PDP chieftains to get the entire election cancelled have been rebuffed.
Sources said the PDP bigwigs had battled throughout the night to get the election cancelled, but to no avail.  
INEC National Commis-sioner from Abuja, Mr. Dayo Soyebi, who announced the postponement of Oye-Ekiti election, said a new date would be communicated to the parties at the appropriate time.
Soyebi told journalists that collation of results of the four remaining local governments would be done after all the election had been completed.
A statement late last night by INEC said the election in the two wards in Oye Local Government scheduled for today would no longer take place as announced.
“The commission is compelled to suspend the election due to security and logistic reasons. A new date would be announced subsequently in accordance with provisions of Part 4 Section 27 of the Electoral Act 2006,” INEC said.
The Resident Electoral Commissioner in charge of the state, Mrs. Ayoka Adebayo, was nowhere to be found at the time of the postponement.
Adebayo said she excused herself from the collation centre on ground of ill-health.
But it was learnt that Action Congress (AC) leaders and other opposition leaders had insisted that she must be the person to announce the result at the collation centre.
Lagos-based lawyer and an indigene of the state, Mr. Femi Falana, was said to have raised an objection to Soyebi taking charge at the collation centre.
Quoting Section 31 of the Electoral Act 2006, he insisted that the Ekiti REC must be produced to announce the result. 
Speaking with THISDAY later in a telephone interview, Ade-bayo said she was not in Ado-Ekiti, adding that the situation there was tense.
“I’ m not around in Ado-Ekiti now. The situation there is tense. My life is at stake and I cannot do anything that is against my God and my conscience,” she said.
She denied that the INEC office in Ikere-Ekiti was burnt, but however confirmed that the commission’s office at Ido-Osi Local Government was torched.
Results from five local governments had been released after the rerun in which former governor of the state and PDP candidate, Chief Segun Oni and AC candidate, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, were the major contestants.
Results from Gbonyin, Ekiti South-west, Ise-Orun, Ijero and Irepodun local governments showed that PDP polled a total of 15,420 votes as against AC’s 15,026 but this is exclusive of the over 11,000 votes which AC had to its advantage from the last April 14, 2007 election.
The rerun in 63 wards in 10 local governments of the state was ordered by the Court of Appeal following the electoral challenge mounted against Oni’s election by Fayemi.
Violence clashes erupted again in the volatile Oye local government.
Again, no less than 39 suspects were arrested by the police while they were trying to foment trouble.
Eight men were picked up in Oye-Ekiti while trying to smuggle 12 pump action guns into the town.
The policemen who had mounted a road block in front of Senator Arise’s house had stopped the entourage of another senator from the state, Femi Kila, who drove in a convoy of three vehicles including two Hilux Vans  used by the senator as back up vehicles.
When police searched the Hilux vans, 12 guns were discovered inside them and were immediately confiscated by the police which also arrested the men.
Journalists were not spared by the attackers in Oye-Ekiti as Segun Bakare of the Punch, Dare Fasube of Vanguard and David Idowu of the Horizon were beaten seriously and their cameras seized.
Both PDP and AC have continued to trade allegation of rigging.
The situation around the collation centre at Chris Girls School, Ado-Ekiti within the vicinity of the popular Fajuyi Memorial Park was chaotic.
Several youths believed to be members and supporters of AC gathered in groups in a bid to prevent attempt to bring already thumb-printed ballot papers for final collation.
Majority of the youths, who looked desperate had laid siege to the area since Saturday.
The situation almost went out of hand between the hours of 9 am and 10 am yesterday, when the youths took to the streets chanting war songs, threatening mayhem should the INEC decide to announce any result different from the ones collated at the designated collation centre.
Amid the tense atmosphere, especially within Ado-Ekiti, the state capital, PDP and AC addressed press conferences at their state secretariats almost adjacent to each other.
PDP Public Relations Officer (PRO) Lekan Adekanbi called for the cancellation of the vote cast at Igbemo ward in Irepodun/Ifelodun Local Government, while he also appealed to INEC to allow the people of Egbe/Iro ward in Gbonyin Local Government who have been allegedly disenfranchised to perform their civic duties.
According to Adekanbi, election in Igbemo needed to be cancelled because, according to him, a lot of malpractices and electoral fraud took place.
“Elections were not held in this particular area,” he said. 
While expressing satisfaction with the conduct of the election as well as the outcome so far, Adekanbi said his party, PDP, had no doubt performed creditably well.
He, however, said the party would abide by the outcome of the results of the entire election.
AC Chairman in the state, Chief Jide Awe, raised alarm that the Presidency had allegedly ordered INEC in the state to announce the results of the 11 wards in Ido-Osi Local Government, which allegedly were not collated at the designated collation centre and not signed by the AC accredited agents.
According to him, only three wards in the area, two in Ayetoro and one in Ido, where elections were properly conducted and collated would be acceptable to the party.
Awe said information at the disposal of the party indicated that Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan was mounting pressure on INEC to announce another result different from the one already known to the generality of Ekiti people.
While appealing to INEC not to set the state on fire by announcing the results of the election that was not properly collated, Awe urged the Presidency to allow the will of the people to prevail.
Expressing regrets about the situation in Oye-Ekiti, the AC chairman blamed INEC for announcing the postponement of the election in the community for the second time.
“The election was to hold today (yesterday) we got there and nothing happened. We were there for several hours, until about 12pm when we heard an announcement that the election has been postponed till tomorrow (today),” he said.
AC has, however, formally rejected the result from Ido-Osi local government, describing it as an “unimaginatively fabricated result that cannot stand any scrutiny”.
In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said the result from Ido-Osi, which gave the PDP 15,939 votes against AC’s 3,793, was the most improbable result and could only have been made possible by sheer cooking of figures.
Mohammed said: “After collation of results from five local governments (Gboyin, Ekiti South-west, Irepodun-Ifelodun, Ise-Orun and Ijero), on Saturday, the AC had 15,026 and the PDP 15,420 votes, without counting AC’s existing credit of 11,000 votes.
“Realising the PDP’s deficiency with results from just four local governments remaining, the collation was suspended till Sunday. Overnight, however, the cooked results – said to have been collated in a police station without AC agents in attendance – surfaced, with the PDP winning 15,939 in just one local government!
“That result simply cannot stand: First, it shows that the PDP, in collusion with INEC, simply worked from answer to question, having realised there is no way the PDP could catch up with the AC. Secondly, the improbability of the figure from one local government alone more than all the total votes scored by PDP in all the five local governments whose results were collated on Saturday!!!.
“In fact, in one particular ward at Ido-Osi, the AC was disingenuously awarded a zero vote! Therefore, we say that the result from Ido-Osi – and consequently the overall outcome of the rerun, cannot stand; that we will not accept it, and that we will defend our votes with all lawful means necessary.”

Why Oye-Ekiti is Critical…
Two wards in Oye-Ekiti, the home base of Senator Ayo Arise (PDP), boast of 18,000 registered voters. Whoever wins here may have an unassailable lead.

From Ademola Adeyemo and Toba Suleiman- THISDAY