By Adebayo Olodan, Mumini Abdulkareem, Ahmed Ajikobi, Kayode Adeoti and Abiodun Bolujoko
Barely 48 hours to the Ekiti/Oke-Ero/Isin/Irepodun bye-election, there was palpable tension, last night in Omu-Aran, the headquarters of Irepodun Local Government Area after a helicopter with Police boldly written on it and with registration no; 5N- GEJ, landed at the open field of St. Paul Primary School, along Egbe road.
The deployment of the helicopter is the latest of several desperate efforts of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to win the bye-election to fill the vacant seat of late Funke Adedoyin, who died in Abuja, a few weeks ago.
The arrival of the helicopter was said to have caused panic among residents of the community who are in the dark over the mission of the occupants.
Few minutes after the arrival of the helicopter around 6:30pm, a black Lexus car reportedly belonging to the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate for the bye-election, Hon Raheem Tunji Olawuyi otherwise known as Ajulo-Opin was said to have arrived the venue and parked beside the helicopter.
In the company of Ajulo-Opin according to reliable sources were, the Chairman of the APC Campaign Committee for the bye-election and Kwara South Senatorial candidate, Arc. Lola Ashiru, former member of House of Representatives, Hon Olayemi Olabanji, who hails from Esie and the Vice Chairman of Lagos Mainland Local Government, Hon Jubril Emilagba, who reportedly hails from Omupo, Ifelodun Local Government Area of Kwara State.
Said to have alighted from the helicopter were four men who were on what appeared an overall navy brown jacket reportedly moved five Ghana-must-go bags suspected to be containing naira notes into the waiting car of the APC candidate. Also said to have been transferred from the helicopter were about eight cartons with unidentified contents as at the time of filing this report.
The ‘exercise’ was said to have lasted about 45 minutes before the helicopter returned to its destination.
Speaking on what transpired in Omu-Aran, last night, a Youth Leader of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Kwara State House of Assembly candidate for Irepodun constituency, Hon Shamsudeen Bada, said his party will claim landslide victory on Saturday no matter the amount of money brought into the state by the opposition party for the bye-election.
“Beyond the helicopter that landed in Omu-Aran and its contents, we are aware that the leadership of All Progressives Congress (APC) have mobilised all political office holders in Lagos State who hail from Kwara to join forces with their colleagues in the state, all in the name of a bye-election.
“These are people that are never on ground and I can assure them that like it is always the case, their efforts will be in futility as the people of Irepodun/Isin/Oke-Ero/Ekiti Federal Constituency will once again prove their loyalty to the our amiable leader and Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki,” he divulged.
Another source however said the helicopter that landed in Omu-Aran was in connection with the mega-rally of the APC scheduled to hold today in Irepodun at the premises of the First ECWA Primary School.
Efforts to get the reaction of the APC candidate, Ajulo-Opin, were futile last night, as several calls to his mobile phone last night did not connect.
Also a text message sent to him was still being awaited before this paper went to bed.
Attempts to also get the reaction of the party was not successful as the phone of the party’s Public Relations Officer, Tajudeen Aro was switched off.
The chairman of a faction of the APC in the state, Hon Bashiru Omolaja Bolarinwa refused to comment on the issue when contacted.
Asked about the alleged security clampdown and deployment of thugs by the APC for the exercise, Bolarinwa said “no comment, no comment”.
When contacted, last night, the Kwara State Police Command, Public Relations Officer, DSP Ajayi Okasanmi denied any knowledge of the deployment of police helicopter to Omu-Aran, for Saturday’s bye-election.
He however said the helicopter may have been deployed to prevent a breakdown of law and order, before, during and after the poll.
In his words; “The reason behind the presence of helicopter in the area, if true, cannot be outside protection of law and order before, during and after the bye-election.”
Okasanmi, urged members of the public to go about their lawful businesses, and be law abiding.
“The job of the police is to protect lives and property of every citizen and men and officers of the command will ensure that the state retains its reputation as the home of peace and harmony,” he added.
…CP assures of security as NSCDC deploys 1,000 officers
The Kwara State Commissioner of Police, Bolaji Fafowora has assured the general public of adequate security before, during and after the Irepodun/Isin/Oke-Ero/Ekiti Federal Constituency bye-election scheduled for Saturday.
Fafowora added that, the lives and property of Kwarans and particularly, the people of Irepodun/Isin/Oke-Ero/Ekiti Local Governments.
He added that the command has finalised all necessary plans to make the election a hitch free exercise while also soliciting for cooperation of all stakeholders.
“Thugery, hooliganism, vote buying, destruction or defacing of bill boards and banners will not be tolerated.
“The command is aware of the support and cooperation of members of Vigilante Groups of Nigeria in Kwara, in the area of intelligence gathering and other security assistance, but for the purpose of the forthcoming bye-election in the above local government areas, their activities in the affected areas are hereby suspended until the conclusion of the election.
“Intelligence available to the Command indicated that VGN uniform will be worn by miscreants to cause security breach during the elections.
“Anybody found adorning that uniform between Friday to Monday will be arrested and prosecuted accordingly,” the statement said.
The CP further restated the Command’s capacity to provide security of their lives and property as enshrined in the constitution. He urged the public to provide the command with information about strange movements in their environment.
In a related development, the Kwara State Command of Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) has disclosed its readiness to deploy 1,000 officers for Saturday’s bye-election.
The disclosure was made by the Command spokesperson, Bello Olorunfemi while speaking with this medium in a telephone interview, last night.
He said that the officers include those that will be stationed at various polling units adding that his men will work in collaboration with other security agencies to ensure a hitch free exercise.
Meanwhile, a top source who also spoke on the bye-election said that the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris held a meeting with officers last night, in Abuja.
The security source told our reporter that the force headquarters has deployed 700 Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) to Kwara tomorrow and two each will man the 330 polling units that cut across the four local governments where the election will take place.
“From the remaining about 40 or thereabout, nine DPOs will be deployed to the local governments and the remaining number will be at the collation centres of the election.
“The SSS is coming with about 300, the soldiers with about 400 and the police with about 1,000 while the Civil Defence has readied close to 1,200 officers. All males, no females”, he added.
…PDP’ll win no matter the intimidation, harassment – Saraki
Ahead of the bye-election in Irepodun/Isin/Oke-Ero/Ekiti Federal Constituency, the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, has said the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will emerge victorious regardless of the intimidation and harassment of voters.
Speaking with journalists in Ilorin, yesterday on the sidelines of the sixth remembrance prayer for his late father, Dr Olusola Saraki, the Senate President decried huge deployment of policemen and sudden change of divisional heads of police in four local government areas for the by-election.
“You see, the mistake we sometimes make, we forget that Nigeria is a big nation in this global world, not only in the context of Africa. We provide leadership. An action that we take that tries to suggest that we are not civilised with rule of law and processes, doesn’t augur well with the image. Today, the President is the President of ECOWAS likewise the Chairman of INEC as chairman of electoral bodies in Ecowas, even show that we are a responsible country.
“So, when the Inspector General of Police(IG) begins to do things like this without following due process, it is not good for our country. And that is what we always stand for. And all those who are supposed to caution him should ensure that due process is followed in things like this.
“We have been doing bye-election here, I have never seen where the Divisional Police Officers( DPOs), are being transferred. We have been doing bye-elections here, I have never seen where 200 or 300 security personnel are being deployed. It is not about Kwara, it is about the country. It is about how the world sees us. It is about how we provide leadership in the continent.
“And we keep on saying that people like these are not doing the President any good. The people at the end of the day will speak, and they should allow people to exercise their rights, vote in peace and vote their wishes and should not do anything that creates fear or break law and order.
“In spite of all these, I see PDP winning the election because we are on ground. There is no doubt about it. If you go round, you will know who is on ground. And you will see that in the results. They should allow people to exercise their rights”, he said.
…mammoth crowds welcome Ahmed, Speaker, Atunwa at Omu-Aran, Isin, Ajase -Ipo
Mammoth crowds welcomed the leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in all the places visited to campaign for the party’s Irepodun/Isin/Oke-Ero/Ekiti federal constituency bye-election candidate, Saheed Jimoh Alatise.
The crowds in Omu-Aran where the PDP held the mega rally waited till the night to receive Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed and the party’s governorship candidate, Hon Razak Atunwa who had both visited Ajase-Ipo and Isin to canvass for votes for Alatise.
The Speaker of the Kwara State House of Assembly, Dr Ali Ahmad had met with the party supporters in Omu-Aran before he was joined by Governor Ahmed and Atunwa.
Ahmed rallied support for the PDP candidate and warned the residents against campaign of calumny and hatred by those he described as nocturnal politicians, emphasised that the opposition party had no plans for them.
He also advised them not to allow themselves to be intimidated by the influx of suspected thugs and presence of security agents, but urged them to guide their votes jealously.
The Governor further stressed the need for the party supporters to remain calm, respect constituted authority and conduct themselves peacefully by shunning all acts capable of disrupting the polls.
He also assured that the PDP remained the party to win, emphasising that the party leadership were in-charge of the state and the party would record a landslide victory at the poll.
Governor Ahmed further warned the APC to stay off Kwara, saying that the state is no go area for the opposition, boasting that no amount of blackmailing and campaign of calumny could affect the PDP victory.
The state party Chairman, Engr Kola Shittu had in his remarks, encouraged the party faithful to remain committed to the PDP, stressing that they should not be disturbed by the campaign of hatred by nocturnal politicians.
Shittu urged the party supporters to mobilise themselves and work hard for landslide victory and to also guide their votes jealously.
The Governor who was accompanied by Atunwa, the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Alhaji Isiaka Gold, Chief of Staff, Alhaji Yusuf Babatunde Abdulwahab had earlier visited the Olupo of Ajase-Ipo, Oba Zikirullahi Woleola Sanni, Olusin of Isanlu-Isin, Oba Solomon Olugbenga, Olosi of Osi and Alofa of Iloffa in their various palaces stressing the need for them to support the PDP candidate.
The monarchs in their separate remarks assured the governor of their subjects’ unalloyed and unflinching support to ensure the party’s landslide victory in the poll.
They praised the Maigida-led government for its developmental projects across the state, saying that they all felt government’s presence in their various domains.
In a related development, the APC is set to hold a mega rally for the party’s candidate for the bye-election in Omu-Aran, today.
The rally is expected to be attended the leaders of the party from within and outside the state.