From Abiodun Alade, Jeremiah Oke, Raphael Ogbonniaye & Abbas Jimoh, Ado-Ekiti
The candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr Biodun Abayomi Oyebanji, popularly known as BAO, was leading 15 other candidates yesterday as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) started collating results of the 2022 Ekiti State governorship election.
As of the time of filing this report, results from eight of the local government areas showed that the ruling APC was leading with a wide margin.
Counting of results was still ongoing across the local government areas as of the time of filing this report last night.
The election, which was largely peaceful as security operatives dominated most of the areas, was, however, characterised by allegations of vote buying by party agents and observers.
Daily Trust on Sunday reports that the candidates of the three major political parties in the race – APC’s Oyebanji; Segun Oni of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and Bisi Kolawole of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) won their respective polling units.
Oyebanji, a former secretary to the Ekiti State Government, who voted at polling unit 3, ward 6 in Ikogosi Local Government Area, was received by his followers and supporters.
Former Governor Oni, who voted at unit 6, ward 2 in Ifaki Ekiti, lamented high level of vote buying in most of the local government areas in the state. He called on security agencies to arrest those engaged in the act. He polled 218 votes against 15 by the APC and two by the PDP.
Allegations of vote buying
Daily Trust on Sunday learnt that officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) arrested some agents and voters over allegations of vote-buying.
A former member of the Ekiti State House of Assembly, Morakinyo Adebayo, alleged that the APC was paying as high as N10,000 to induce each electorate.
The candidate of the African Democratic Congress, Dr Wole Oluyede, also bemoaned cases of vote buying.
“Those voters who were offered money were not given the chance to freely choose the right choice. The outcome doesn’t reflect the wishes of the people,” he said.
However, Daily Trust on Sunday observed that the three major parties were involved in the act. While some party agents were sharing between N3,000 and N5,000, others shared as high as N15,000 in some instances.
The agent of the PDP, Fatunla Oyeyemi, expressed satisfaction with the exercise, noting that the electorate voted in accordance with their conscience and political leanings.
At polling unit 3, ward 7 (Ajibade’s compound) in Igede town, Irepodun/Ifelodun Local Government Area of Ekiti State, the agent of the SDP, Seun Egbesola, lamented that the exercise was monetised by other parties.
“They have used money to win the votes. This is not what the people wanted; they bought their votes with money,” he alleged
However, the agent of the APC, Fatunla Paul, countered the narration, maintaining that the electorate voted for the candidates of their choice. His view was collaborated by his uncle, Fatunla Oyeyemi, who served as agent of the PDP.
“There was no inducement. The exercise was peaceful and people voted according to their conscience,” he said.
The election witnessed an impressive turnout as the aged and the youth trooped out to exercise their franchise.
Our correspondents report that residents started trooping out as early as 7:30am.
An octogenarian, Pa Sunday David Ogundele, who was assisted as he cast his vote, said it was the turn of his hometown to produce the governor of the state.
Pa Ogundele, who has visual impairment and walks with the aid of a stick, noted that he started voting in 1964.
“It is our turn to produce the governor of Ekiti State. I have confidence in the ability of Oyebanji to deliver good governance if voted in by the people,” he said.
Also, a 105-year-old Mrs Felicia Fayomi, said she was happy to be part of the 2022 governorship election in the state.
The aged woman, who was brought to the polling unit by one of her granddaughters at unit 2, ward 6, Ifaki Ekiti in Ido-osi Local Government Area, was full of life.
A first time voter, Ajayi Moses, was full of life as she exercised her franchise, hoping that the eventual winner would secure the future of the youth.
A former state chairman of the APC in Ekiti State, Chief Jide Awe, commended the turnout of voters.
He said the election was a referendum on the performance of the APC-led government in the state and a pointer to what to expect at the 2023 polls.
“From the report we are getting from our people, we are confident of winning,” he said.
NBA, observers commend INEC
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has commended the INEC, noting that the passage of the new electoral law has improved the conduct of election in the country
The coordinator of the NBA observers, Victor Giwa, who disclosed this while speaking with Daily Trust on Sunday in Ifaki Ekiti shortly after the governorship election, however, said the introduction of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) had slowed down the process.
“The issue of BVAS, which has to do with the process of accreditation and voting, is however, posing a serious challenge in terms of the speed. You know the BVAS does verification, accreditation, confirmation, so the process seems to take a bit long,” he said.
He also spoke on the allegation of vote buying.
“The issue of vote buying cannot be seen physically. I was here four years ago and the vote buying at that time was very visible. I mean, you would see how they were sharing money in your presence, but compared to this one we have witnessed today, you can’t see that. They do it a bit stylishly. Though we have reports of the EFCC arresting some persons for vote trading, that incident has really reduced,” he said.
A domestic observer with the Grassroots Development Peace Initiative, Chris Ajiri, who said there were incidents of vote buying, however, commended the deployment of the BVAS.
“Even a blind man would know that water passed under the bridge. However, as long as the BVAS is concerned, your votes count,” he added.
The country director of the International Republic Institute, Santiago Stocker, however, said international observers were interested in the success of the deployment of technology.
Why we recorded hitch-free exercise – Police
The Force Public Relations Officer, CSP Muyiwa Adejobi, said the exercise was seamless and devoid of security challenges because operatives were professional in their conduct
“We have not recorded incidents of ballot snatching, thuggery or violence. This was premised on the ability of the police and other security agencies to put adequate measures on ground,” he said.
He said the EFCC was the appropriate authority to speak on the arrest of those involved in vote buying.
Ekiti guber shows progress in electioneering – CDD
The Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) Election Analysis Centre (EAC) has said that yesterday’s governorship election in Ekiti State shows that Nigeria is making significant progress in the administration of elections.
The chairman the CDD-EAC, Professor Adele Jinadu, said this in Abuja while presenting the centre’s second preliminary Ekiti election statement.
The organisation also commended the INEC for its conduct in the election.
He, however, said that based on feedback from its observers for the poll, there were several areas of concern that call for stronger management of elections.
“The CDD-EAC observers reported a worrisome situation in which some voters were allowed to cast their ballots without being authenticated by the BVAS. This constitutes a flagrant violation of the Electoral Act 2022.
“The CDD-EAC recorded 11 of such cases, where voters were not authenticated by the BVAS but were allowed to cast ballots. It took place in Ado-Ekiti, Emure, Ekiti East, Ekiti West, Ijero, Ikere, Irepodun/Ifelodun and Ise/Orun,” he said.
On vote buying and selling, the organisation said it documented 41 instances at polling units in local government areas like Ado-Ekiti, Ijero, Ikole Irepodun/Ifelodun, Ise/Orun and Moba.
“The CDD-EAC, however, commends the arrest of some political actors who were alleged to be involved in vote buying in the course of the election. The CDD-EAC calls for a thorough investigation of these persons and their subsequent prosecution if found culpable,” the organisation added.