Politics

How Kwara bye-election was won, lost

Massive security deployment by FG

Clampdown on PDP stalwarts

Low voters turn-out, card readers malfunctioned

APC sending wrong signals about 2019 polls — Saraki, Ahmed

*Candidates, party leaders react

Full results

By Mumini AbdulKareem and Kayode Adeoti

Last weekend will remain indelible in the annals of democratic system of Kwara State following the outcome of the bye-election that was conducted among the four Local Government Areas of Irepodun, Ekiti, Oke-Ero and Isin in the Kwara South Senatorial district.
Since the announcement of the results of the election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)’s Chief Returning Officer, Prof. Abimbola Adesoji, the question of how the two leading parties in the poll faired in the poll has continued to generate debates especially among the electorate in the state and beyond.
The exercise which was to fill the vacant seat of late Hon Funke Adedoyin for the Irepodun/Ekiti/Oke-Ero/Isin federal constituency will continue to be a talking point in Kwara especially as regards how the APC won it.
It would be recalled that INEC had declared the candidate of the APC as winner of the election.
While declaring Hon Raheem Tunji Olawuyi otherwise known as Ajulo-Opin, the winner of the bye-election at the Irepodun local government secretariat in Omu-Aran on Saturday night, the Chief Returning Officer for the election,  Prof. Abimbola Adesoji, said he polled 21, 236 to defeat his closest rival and APC candidate, Saheed Alatise of the PDP who polled 18, 095.
He listed other contestants in the election were Femi Ona-Ara of Labour Party, Ajadi Olayemi of Peoples Party of Nigeria (PPN) as well as Olaniyan Ayorinde of Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN).
This is the first election that the PDP under the leadership of the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, will lose since his defection from the APC.
With the latest development, the APC’s candidate, Ajulo-Opin will occupy the seat for the next seven month but may vacate the seat in May 2019 should a winner from another party emerge in the February 2019 general elections.
The result automatically makes Ajulo-Opin the only opposition lawmaker among the nine from Kwara State at the National Assembly.
Findings by this medium, last night, however revealed how the election was won by the ruling APC despite the strong grip and influence of PDP in the region.
According to some PDP members, the PDP lost the election owing to the deployment of heavy security presence among other issues.
Prior to the election, the Kwara State chapter of the PDP had continuously raised the alarm over plans by the APC-led federal government backed by some desperate party stalwarts to intimidate voters and manipulate results as part of a wider mandate to take over Kwara from the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki by all possible means and cost.
While the Returning Officer of INEC had gone ahead to declare the APC’s candidate, Ajulo-Opin the winner of the poll, the PDP rejected the results describing the exercise as nothing but a charade and rape on the nation’s democracy.
Declaring Ajulo-Opin the winner of the bye-election at the Irepodun local government secretariat in Omu-Aran, Saturday night, the Chief Returning Officer, Prof. Abimbola Adesoji, said he polled 21, 236 to defeat his closest rival and APC candidate, Saheed Alatise of the PDP who polled 18, 095.
He listed other contestants in the election as; Femi Ona-Ara of Labour Party, Ajadi Olayemi of Peoples Party of Nigeria (PPN) as well as Olaniyan Ayorinde of Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN).
Abimbola gave the total number of registered voters as 168, 707, accredited voters as 41,185, the total valid votes as 39,599, total number of rejected votes as 1, 331 and total number of votes cast as 40,930.
The declaration was witnessed by the Kwara State Commissioner of Police, Bolaji Fafowora, INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner, Malam Garuba Madami as well as his Imo and Lagos counterparts, Emeka Nzeonu and Sam Olumeko respectively.


PDP rejects result, describes exercise as charade, assault on democracy

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Kwara State, yesterday, rejected the results of the bye-election conducted in Ekiti/Irepodun/Isin/Oke-Ero Federal Constituency.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Raheem Tunji Olawuyi winner of the contest.
Reacting to the announcement, yesterday, the PDP described the outcome of the election as a daylight robbery which did not reflect the will of the people as its members were harassed and intimidated during the poll.
Addressing a press conference in Ilorin on Sunday, the state PDP Chairman, Engr. Kola Shittu, further described the election as a charade and direct assault on the nation’s democracy.
Shittu, who was flanked by the state Publicity Secretary of the party, Tunde Ashaolu noted that some of the concerns raised by the PDP prior to the conduct of the election, which included alleged importation of thugs and heavy deployment of security personnel later manifested during the poll.
He lamented that the poll was characterised by ballot box snatching, widespread irregularities and illegal arrest of members of the PDP before and while the election was on going.
Shittu, however, called for outright cancellation of the election because it fell short of the expectations of the people of the constituency.
He added that the brazen subversion of the will of the people, which the outcome of the election represented, was an indication that the APC-led Federal Government was not ready to deliver free, fair and credible elections in 2019.
“The PDP condemns in strong terms, the conduct of the bye-election, we also reject its outcome, as it does not reflect the will of the people of Ekiti, Oke-Ero, Isin and Irepodun Local Government Areas.
“The announcement of the candidate of the APC, Raheem Olawuyi Ajulo-Opin as the winner of the election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is a daylight robbery, subversion of the will of the people and direct assault on the nation’s democracy.
“Indeed, the election was a contest between the PDP and the security agents, as they both collaborated with the enemies of democracy, APC, to manipulate the electoral process and stole the mandate of the people”, Shittu said.
It would be recalled that INEC had declared the candidate of the APC as winner of the election.


Massive security deployment by FG

Although the bye-election was held in only four local government areas in Kwara South, the massive deployment of security operatives by the presidency was said to have caused low voters turn out especially members of the PDP who were afraid of the aftermath of such deployment.
Substantial numbers of security personnel including police, Civil Defence, Army and Immigration were seen patrolling major streets in the affected communities and also stationed in polling units. While the election was going on, helicopters allegedly belonging to the Police hovered around sky in Omu-Aran and neighbouring communities. This was said to have psychologically affected several intending PDP voters but served equally as a morale booster for the APC. The apathy was so glaring that out of about 170,000 registered voters for the exercise, only about 41,000 came out to exercise their franchise.
Some of the ruling party stalwarts who spoke on the issue said their members were afraid of the unknown and preferred to stay indoors because of heavy security presence in Omu-Aran, describing the community as the “theatre of war”.
At the end of the poll, the APC candidate defeated PDP with just over 3,000 votes, a deficit that would have been easily covered by those PDP members that didn’t come out to vote.


Clampdown on party stalwarts

As the APC continue to revel in the party’s victory, the PDP has accused the opposition of orchestrating a massive clampdown on selected but influential stalwarts of the PDP in Kwara South to stop them from mobilising party supporters for the poll.
The PDP condemned the alleged attacks on residences of some of its members in Oke-Ero, Isin, Ekiti and Irepodun local government areas by armed security operatives deployed for the exercise.
A prominent member of the party in Esie and Special Adviser on Agriculture and Water Resources to Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed, Hon Anu Ibiwoye was said to have been picked up and his whereabouts yet unknown according to the party. This is in addition to several other party stalwarts that were also reportedly harassed and arrested before, during and after the conduct of the exercise with serious effect on the outcome of the poll.
In a statement at the weekend, by its state Publicity Secretary, Tunde Ashaolu, the PDP described the attacks as reprehensible, unwarranted and unjustifiable, stressing that the action of the security officials reeks of unprofessionalism and amounts to violation of human rights.
“In what was a gestapo-like operation, a combined team of Nigerian Police Force and Department of State Services (DSS) invaded the residence of a PDP chieftain in Egosi community of Oke-Ero local government Chief Joseph Adeniyi, aka Azeez Egosi at about 2am today.
Chief Adeniyi narrowly escaped from the house but his son, who is a soldier was arrested and taken to unknown destination by the security officers. The security operatives also attacked the residences of some PDP stalwarts in Oke-Ero.
“Likewise, the Chairman of PDP in Iwo ward of Isin local government area, which is the ward of the former deputy governor of Kwara, Prince Joel Ogundeji, was also arrested by the security men. A couple of our members in Ajase-Ipo have also been arrested.
“The PDP views these attacks as are an act of impunity and attempt to suppress and intimidate our members ahead of the by-election holding tomorrow. With these needless attacks on our members, can President Muhammadu Buhari and the APC still claim to be acting under the rule of law?
When we alerted Nigerians and the international community that the APC-led Federal Government had perfected plans to clampdown on our members ahead of the election, some said we were raising a false alarm, but here we are today.
“The FG and APC should, however, know that the PDP will never succumb to their desperate tactics and acts of intimidation. We remain resolute and very optimistic of winning the election.
“The party calls on the good, law-abiding and peace loving people of Ekiti, Isin, Oke-Ero and Irepodun to remain calm and maintain order in the face of this scenario of terror orchestrated by the APC.
“We also urge both local and international observers to appeal to President Buhari and the APC to stop these needless violations of human rights and abuse of state institutions. They should allow the people to exercise their rights by freely choosing their representative without fear or intimidation”, it added.


Card readers malfunctioned

While the election started few minutes after 8am in most places visited in Omu-Aran, Oko, Aran-Orin, Ilofa, Odo-Owa and Osi in the affected constituency in Irepodun,  Oke-Ero, Isin and Ekiti Local Government Areas, there were issues of card readers malfunctioning in most of the polling units.
The distribution of both sensitive and non-sensitive material had earlier been concluded by the Omu-Aran Zonal Office of INEC to various polling units across the constituency on Friday. Accreditation and voting were momentarily held up in some polling units as INEC engineers were seen going round the affected units and making frantic efforts to restore some card readers found to have malfunctioned. This initially led to allegation from some members of the PDP that the issue was dominant in major strongholds of the party and part of the grand plans of the APC to strategically influence the outcome of the result in the party’s favour.
The APC was said to have used the Federal might to get what it wants in the election by using security agencies and cash to muzzle the PDP. In Omu-Aran, the home base of the two major contenders, there were allegations of vote-buying on the part of the ruling party from the cash reportedly brought into the community on the eve of the election.
According to some APC members, unlike the time of former president, Goodluck Jonathan when the PDP had the power of the Federal Government but didn’t know how to deploy it, the APC under the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed understands the enormous power at its disposal and how to use it. Also some of the APC elders and gubernatorial aspirants who  have no business being in Kwara South during the election reportedly relocated with a mission to influence the decision of the voters by distributing cash in the process under the protection of federal security.

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