Opposition parties were divided on Friday over the outcome of the last Saturday governorship election in Ogun State won by Governor Dapo Abiodun.
The INEC had on Sunday declared Abiodun of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the winner of the election, having polled a total of 276,298 votes, while Ladi Adebutu of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) scored 262,383 votes and the governorship candidate of the African Democratic Congress (ADC), Biyi Otegbeye garnered 94,754 votes.
But, aggrieved by the declaration, Adebutu led hundreds of members of the PDP in a protest to the INEC office in Abeokuta to submit a petition against the commission.
Adebutu and PDP had rejected the results of the election, accusing INEC of manipulating and rigging the poll in favour of the APC candidate.
But opposition parties under the aegis of the Inter Party Advisory Council (IPAC) and the Coalition of Registered Political Parties on Friday clashed over the results.
Speaking at a press conference, the state chairman of IPAC, Samson Okusanya said the body accepted the result and charged Adebutu, and the PDP to approach the court instead of making “unfounded allegations against the electoral commission.”
He commended INEC for the success of the election, describing it as free, fair and credible.
Okusanya berated Adebutu for embarking on the protest instead of presenting his case to court, saying Adebutu’s action was “inimical to the peace of the state”.
Okusanya, who was flanked by some state chairmen of other political parties said, “In elections like this, one candidate will emerge as the winner and anyone that lost out should follow due process which is recognised by law to express their grievances if there is any at all, instead of creating unrest in the state and causing violence.
“We advise them (Adebutu and PDP), as inter-party advisory council to shun violence. They should also remember that nobody in above the law.
“We want peace and progress of the state. The losers should due process and tow the line of honour to express their grievances and concerns.”
In another twist, the Coalition of Registered Political Parties led by the State Chairman of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP), Oginni Olaposi, rejected Abiodun’s declaration by INEC in its entirety, saying it cannot stand.
Olaposi admitted that all registered parties are members of IPAC, but insisted that the body lacks powers to endorse any governorship candidate or validate the outcome of the polls in the matter which Okusanya-led IPAC did.
He spoke alongside Social Democratic Party (SDP), Action Alliance (AA), Accord Party (AP), Allied People’s Movement (APM), Because Of Our Tomorrow (BOOT party), Labour Party (LP), Action Democratic Party (ADP), African Action Congress (AAC), All Peoples Party (APP) and National Rescue Movement (NRM).
The NNPP Chairman alleged that INEC erred by making a pronouncement of a winner in an election which the number of cancelled votes tripled the margin of lead of the acclaimed winner and closest rival.
To this end, he called for the suspension of the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Niyi Ijalaye, and arrest of the state Returning Officer, Prof Kayode Adebowale, who is the Vice Chancellor of the University of Ibadan, for committing “heinous crime against democracy.”
He said, “The Ogun Coalition of Registered Political Parties hereby call for the immediate suspension of the Ogun State Resident Electoral Commissioner and Immediate Arrest and Prosecution of Prof. Kayode Adebowale, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Ibadan for this heinous crime against Democracy.
“The Ogun Coalition of Registered Political Parties is using this medium to call on all lovers of peace and democracy around the globe to put their searchlights on Ogun State as we are all struggling to bring back hope to the electorate and good people of Ogun State.
“Recognizing the fact that an injustice to one is an injustice to all, we hereby call for the return of the stolen mandate of Hon. Oladipupo Adebutu of the Peoples Democratic Party who is generally believed to be the actual winner of March 18th 2023 Governorship Election in Ogun State.
“In Conclusion, the Coalition of Registered Political Parties Ogun State hereby confirms that the March 18 th 2023 Election in Ogun State was massively rigged with lots of irregularities ranging from snatching of ballot boxes in over 100 polling units, suppression of voters with thugs under the cover of security agencies, ballot snuffing and other illegalities. Once again, we are appealing to all relevant agencies including INEC to do the needful in the interest of good governance and development of our democracy.”