pulls out midway
Voters’ apathy, alleged hoarding of voting materials and other irregularities marred the Oyo State Independent Electoral Commission (OYSIEC) – organized local government election in most parts of Ogbomoso axis, Oyo state today.
Following these alleged electoral malpractices leveled against OYSIEC and the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the Action Democratic Party (ADP) in Ogbomoso announced its withdrawal some hours before the end of the exercise, describing the election as a sham.
This is coming in spite of assurances on Friday by Aare Isiaka Olagunju, OYSIEC state chairman that electoral officials and election materials had been dispatched to all local government areas and wards ahead of the Saturday’s poll.
According to the ADP deputy chairman in Oyo state, Hon. Babatunde Ojo, the decision to withdraw from the election process wasn’t made behind the ADP state chairman, informing the chairman gave the order after he was consulted.
Ogbomosoinsightonline.com crew that went out to monitor the election reported that the number of voters that turned out to vote was abysmally low in most polling units just as it was discovered that cases of alleged absconding by officials of the electoral umpire, OYSIEC, were reported in parts of Ijeru 1 & 2 ward 5 & 6 respectively, Idi-Ishin, Akata ward 1 and Ibapon.
Furthermore, gunshots sound were said to have rent the air at Arowomole (Methodist School polling unit), and the councillorship candidate of ADP was allegedly attacked with dangerous weapons. He is said to be currently receiving treatment at an undisclosed hospital.
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) standard bearer in Surulere local government, Hon. Isaiah Adegbite, who cast his vote at Iregba ward 6, unit 6, expressed confidence his party would coast home to victory in the election, stressing, “PDP is the party people want and love so much.”
Also, the Director-General of Oyo State Investment and Public Private Partnership, Otunba Segun Ogunwuyi, cast his vote at ward 12, unit 12, in Ogbomoso South local government just as the PDP standard bearer in Ogbomoso North local government, Hon. Kabiru Ayoade Akanji, voted at Aguodo/Masifa ward 3.
Hon. Akanji described the election as free and fair while giving kudos to OYSIEC and the voters who came out to cast their votes.
But the rival Action Democratic Party, ADP, condemned the conduct of the election accusing OYSIEC of performing far below expectations.
The ADP deputy chairman in Oyo state, Hon. Ojo, alleged that the election was not free and fair contrary to his party’s expectation, adding that his party’s agents were harassed and brutalized by thugs suspected to be working in cahoots with PDP.
He pointed out that many ADP supporters were disenfranchised due to insufficient ballot papers, saying, “Initially we thought we were going to have a free and fair election and that is what we prepared for.
“But when it started this morning, the first report we got across the 3 local governments of Ogbomoso North, Ogbomoso South and Oriire was that the ballot papers at each polling unit was not more than 100 i.e. 100 for councillorship and 100 for chairmanship candidates.
“This fell below expectation when we were supposed to have between 400 and over 1000 ballot papers in each polling unit. So, that was the first thing that happened.
“And as soon as I got this report, I got in touch with my state chairman and the OYSIEC E.O. at Ogbomoso North local government level. And we were told that OYSIEC headquarters did not provide enough ballot papers and so, had to be rationed.
“I asked what about those who would be disenfranchised as a result of insufficient number of ballot papers. Then, what would happen to the remaining ballot papers. Then, they said, we should just start voting and make sure that no added ballot papers is allowed.
“I informed my state chairman and he said we should carry on. We did until sometime when the unexpected started happening. They were bringing already thumb printed ballot papers, which they were stuffing into the various ballot boxes.
“It happened both in Ogbomoso North local government and Ogbomoso South local government and partially at Oriire local government.”
Ojo affirmed that wards and units where rigging manifestly took place were “Ijeru 1 and 2, Osekun 1 and 2, Masifa, Osupa, Okelerin, Isale-Afon, Alaasa and many more. Places like that, more than what we can bear.”
He explained that having called OYSIEC in Ibadan and reported, the chairman assured he would get back to him but hadn’t as of the time of this interview.
Ojo added that their party candidates, agents and members were harassed and driven out of polling units, and that many were hospitalized.
He lamented that he was shocked that they were not prepared for such, “We wanted a situation where all votes will count and the winner will rejoice and the loser will congratulate him.
“And so, I took it upon myself and called all our party members and agents to leave the polling units and let PDP have a field day, and conduct the election by themselves, let them do it. We don’t want trouble; we don’t want a situation whereby both citizens of the same town would venture into pugilism.”
He said none of their agents would be there to append their signatures to any documents disclosing they had all left the polling centres due to harassments and brutalization.
An eyewitness in Okelerin, who begged for anonymity, stressed “the election conducted in Ogbomoso North local government should be cancelled judging by the rate of election rigging carried out by the OYSIEC agents and other PDP party agents at the polling units in Okelerin. Even as security agents were helpless.”
In the meantime, results of the election are being awaited.