Election observation team of the U.S., EU and UK have expressed concern over alleged reports of irregularities, harassment and interference by inappropriate persons in the rerun election.
In their appraisal of the Osun State rerun governorship election, the missions of the United States, European Union and the United Kingdom, who were on the ground to monitor the exercise, said there were incidents of harassment and intimidation of voters.
Reading the missions’ joint report, the US Consul General, Mr John F. Bray, said, “The missions of the United States, European Union and the United Kingdom observed voting at polling stations in Osun today (Thursday). We witnessed what appeared to be incidents of interference and intimidation of voters and have reports of harassment of party monitors, journalists and domestic observers.
“We are very concerned by these reports and we will be checking with stakeholders to determine the facts. We call on all stakeholders to remain calm.”
SEE VIDEO: Osun Rerun Election: Violence Mars the Process
The All Progressives Congress (APC) finally subdued the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announced its candidate, Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola, as the eventual winner of the Osun State governorship election.
The Returning Officer, Prof. Joseph Fuwape, said Oyetola prevailed over PDP’s Senator Ademola Adeleke, his main opponent at yesterday’s supplementary election, the main one held last Saturday having ended inconclusively.
It was a clean sweep for Oyetola who had trailed behind Adeleke by 254,345 votes to 254,698, leaving a margin of 353 votes.
However, at yesterday’s contest held in seven units across four local governments of the state, the APC cancelled the negative margin, besting the PDP flag bearer by a margin of 472 votes.
Fuwape said Oyetola scored 1,150 votes at yesterday’s duel to bring his haul in the race to 255,495 votes, while Adeleke got 325 more votes to close up at 255,023.
Specifically, the APC scored 299 votes in Osogbo LGA; 280 in Orolu; 455 in Ife South; and 126 in Ife North.
He said the PDP garnered 165 votes in Osogbo; 122 in Orolu; 36 in Ife South and two in Ife North.
Announcing the final results, Fuwape, who is also the Vice Chancellor of the Federal University of Technology Akure, said having scored the highest number of votes, Oyetola was returned as the winner of the governorship election and Governor-elect of Osun State.
Giving their initial observation on the conduct of the exercise, a member of the observer team in a short statement said, “We are very concerned by these reports and will be checking with stakeholders to check the facts. We call on all stakeholders to remain calm.”
The observers stated their position while addressing journalists in Osogbo in an interview televised by the TVC television station.
Also commenting on the exercise, the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) faulted it, saying that the conduct of some key stakeholders clearly ran contrary to democratic norms and standards, as well as best practices in the conduct of credible elections.
The CDD lamented that a number of the incidents recorded during the poll had undermined the sanctity of the vote and the overall credibility of the electoral process.
The centre specifically frowned at the conduct of the security agents as well as political party stalwarts who took steps that were clearly inimical to the conduct of a free, fair and credible election.
The Director of CDD, Idayat Hassan, disclosed this in a statement yesterday in Abuja, where she decried that election observers who attempted to carry out their legitimate duties were arrested and taken to nearby police station, and were only released after being denied the opportunity to keep an eye on the process so as to guarantee its credibility.
Hassan stated: “The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) has carefully observed the governorship rerun election in Osun State with a conclusion that the conduct of some key stakeholders clearly ran contrary to democratic norms and standards, as well as best practices in the conduct of credible elections.
“CDD observers reported several cases of denial of access to Polling Units to observers, and even voters. CDD field observers deployed to observe the process and ensure its credibility, especially in Orolu and Osogbo LGAs, were intimidated, threatened and in some cases arrested by security forces.
The USA 🇺🇸 & European Union 🇪🇺 observers on the Osun by-election. At our age we still need others to observe and validate our ability to cast and monitor ourselves, conducts and votes ? Aren’t we a disgrace to humanity and must be ashamed!—MaaziEzeoke—
Posted by Maazi Tochukwu Ezeoke on Thursday, September 27, 2018
“Credible reports from our field observers showed that despite being duly accredited by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), several of the observers and journalists were stopped from observing the process.”
But the PDP said the APC victory might be short-lived, describing it as “electoral robbery”, which will be resisted. The state Chairman of the PDP, Mr. Soji Adagunodo, described the supplementary election “as the most brazen assault on democracy and biggest robbery ever witnessed in the history of the state.”
He accused the security personnel of aiding “the open robbery perpetrated by the APC.”
Adagunodo explained that thousands of eligible voters were chased away from their homes in Orolu, Ife North and Ife South in the early hours.
He said, “Scores of our supporters in those local governments were shot and matchetted on their way to polling centres and in the full glare of security men. Hundreds of people holding PVCs from other polling units were accredited and allowed to vote in Osogbo and Ife South Local Government Areas. PDP agent in Olode was axed and abducted about 7a.m. yesterday.
“It was regrettable that election in seven polling units could not be freely and fairly concluded by the INEC. We reject any return of results from this sham and call on the INEC authorities in Abuja to direct that the so called supplementary election result collation be put on hold.”
The PDP state chairman further invited leaders of thought in Nigeria and the International community to “rescue Nigeria’s democracy from being ruined.”
He called on all members and supporters of our party to resist any attempt to foist a concocted election result on the people of Osun using all legal means at their disposal.”
However, the Director of Publicity, Research and Strategy, of the APC in Osun State, Mr. Kunle Oyatomi, countered the accusations against his party, saying, “The PDP was unable to manipulate the result this time around, so they are crying foul.”
Oyatomi said, “We have always known that the PDP had made elaborate arrangements to rig the election through the manipulation of the card readers and it was this process that gave them the votes in the first ballot.”
He asserted that the PDP win in the first ballot was a surprise.
According to him, “Most people in Osun had the believe that it would be a straight fight between the APC and Social Democratic Party (SDP). But as God would have it, Osun was saved from the vultures.”
Oyatomi also noted, “They attempted to win by fraud, they failed in the first round and eventually lost the rerun election.”
Apart from Ward 5 Unit 17 in the Osogbo metropolis, polling units in the remaining three local government areas were domiciled in far-flung areas that were not easily accessible.
However, the election was characterised by heavy presence of security agents and a good turnout of voters.