Guber poll: Apprehension as Ekiti elects new Gov tomorrow

…Queues pervade ATM, filling stations in major towns
…We will conduct credible poll- INEC .No cause for alarm, say Police
…Secondus leads PDP chieftains’ protest to NASS .Lawmakers divided over Police deployment
Ekiti State and particularly Ado Ekiti, the state capital, has been enveloped with noticeable apprehension of what will be on Saturday (tomorrow) when residents and people of the state will elect their new governor at the poll.

Already people have started nursing the fear of unknown as people are seen in groups discussing the likely events that may arise in cause of the very serious assignment which may not come again until after another four years.

Even political parties that have been accredited by Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) in the state for the election were variously calling for meetings apparently to strategise and get themselves and supporters prepared for the election as campaign has already been declared closed by INEC.

Long queues were observed at every ATM centre, Banks and filling stations at Ado-Ekiti, state capital, and major towns, particularly towards the evening time on Thursday.

Regular Police, and anti-riot policemen were seen moving up and down, patrolling the streets of Ado Ekiti,, while armoured tanks were seen stationed at hot spots and strategic location in Ado Ekiti.

The Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) Operations, Mr. Habilal Joshak, has said there is no cause for alarm, adding that his men were only doing their job which is primarily to protect the citizens and to ensure security and safety everybody.

“We are performing our duty, our duty is to secure not only the electoral materials but all the citizens.

“So we don’t want to be bedeviled with cases of hooliganism, ballot snatching and hate speeches before, during and after this election,” he said.

The DIG however urged the residents not to panic but make sure that they are law abiding, adding that the police officers are for their protection.

The chairman lNEC, Prof. Mahmoud Yakubu, also assured that the commission was ready for credible, free, fair, and acceptable election in the state.

“I wish to reassure that our officials are under strict instruction to remain neutral. We have also accredited credible foreign and local observers to monitor this election.

“We are confident that with the arrangements we have put in place, Ekiti State Governorship election will be another good example of free, fair, credible and peaceful election and a further affirmation of the maturity of our democracy”, he stated.

In a related development, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in a nationwide protest stormed the National Assembly on Thursday to protest Wednesday’s police siege on the Ekiti Government House and alleged manhandling of Governor Ayodele Fayose.

Led by its National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, the protesters included members of the PDP National Working Committee and members of the party in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), former Senate President, Adolphus Wabara, former minister, Prof. A.B.C Nwosu, former PDP National Women Leader. Mrs. Josephine Anenieh and former Leader of House of Representatives, Mrs. Mulikat Adeola.

Presenting PDP’s protest letter to the Deputy Senate President, Dr. Ike Ekweremadu, accompanied by Deputy Senate Leader, Bala Ibn Na’Allah, Secondus said the party came to register its protest against the attack on PDP members on peaceful procession from the Government House to the party secretariat in Ado Ekiti, barricading of the Ekiti Government House and brutality on person of Fayose and some other members.

The PDP chairman said the development is a serious digression from democratic principles by the APC government which is a pointer that the nation is sliding into anarchy.

The PDP alleged that the intimidation is a calculated attempt to weaken the party members and scare them away from coming out to perform their civil responsibility of voting in Saturday’s governorship election.

He said “the situation in Ekiti State has reinforced the signpost of a manifest desire by the APC and its leaders to subdue the resilient spirit of Nigerians and set up a totalitarian regime in our country”.

According to him, the APC-led Federal Government deployed armed police personnel led by one Compol Mopol Echel Echel, who blocked the Ekiti State Government House, attacked and placed the democratically elected governor of Ekiti State, Governor Ayodele Fayose, under house arrest and in the course of fighting for his right, he was brutalised and landed in hospital.

“The invading police squad sacked the official security at the Government House, fired sporadically into the premises during which Governor Fayose was beaten up by Policemen and brought down by volleys of teargas while several others were injured.

“This, we have been informed, is part of the ‘order from above’, in line with the earlier boast by the Buhari-led APC, to “cage” Governor Fayose ahead of the July 14, 2018 Ekiti governorship election, so as to grant their agents a field day to rig the election.

“In fact, we have been made aware that the invasion was a plot to assassinate Governor Fayose and blame it on accidental discharge by one of the policemen”, he said.

“The PDP viewed this siege on an elected governor and a government house as a recipe for violence; a complete attack on our democratic order and direct assault on the corporate existence of Ekiti and her people as a federating part of our nation.

Saying that “this is part of the desperate effort by the APC-led Federal Government to intimidate, subjugate, frighten and overawe the people and unleash a rigging mechanism for the election”, Secondus called on the National Assembly to impress it upon President Buhari and the APC that attempt to rig the election will be resisted by the PDP and the people of Ekiti State.

Addressing the protesters, Senator Ike Ekweremadu commended PDP leadership for toeing a path of honour by choosing a peaceful means of conveying their grievances.

He said in a democracy, there should be freedom of association, adding that no person, group or political association should be denied the right to canvass for vote.

Ekweremadu said Nigeria as a leading light of democracy in Africa should lead by example and not be a negative reference to smaller nations, stressing that police and other security agencies should not be used by the government to repress, suppress or intimidate others.

He promised that the leadership of the National Assembly will look into PDP complaint and speak with related agencies of government that would be involved in the election process.

Also, Deputy Senate Leader, Bala Ibn Na’Allah, appealed to the PDP to go back peacefully without confrontation with security agencies.

The protest train later went to the secretariat of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) where a letter was submitted asking the commission to be a responsible and unbiased umpire at the Ekiti polls.

Reacting, Dr. Adekunle Ogunmola, INEC National Commissioner, who received he letter, said the mandate of INEC is to conduct free, fair and credible elections.

“That is what we are committed to. I assure you that we are not going to do anything short of that”, he said.

Col. Austin Akobundu (rtd), the National Organising Secretary, had on Wednesday evening, on behalf of the National Working Committee, directed all State Chairmen to mobilise former NWC members, BOT members/ former Governors,

all State Exco members, Exco members of the party at all levels and stakeholders with their teeming supporters, to embark on peaceful procession to the State Police Command in their respective states to protest the police brutality that happened in Ekiti State.

However, the House of Representatives, on Thursday, resolved to investigate the alleged assault on Governor Fayose by the police, even as members were divided along party lines over the incident.

The House decision to probe the alleged police assault was sequel to the adoption of a motion sponsored by Hon Tajudeen Yusuf from Kogi State, calling on the House to investigate the matter.

Hon Yusuf, in his lead debate, condemned the physical attack and assault on the person and office of the governor of a federating state.

He said unless urgent steps and action are taken to halt this ugly development, the over -zealousness of security agencies may jeopardise the 2019 general election.

Supporting the motion, Hon Sunday Karimi, said what was witnessed in Ekiti State was an attempt by the All Progressives Congress (APC) to foist their governorship candidate on the people.

But opposing the motion, Hon Aminu Suleiman, accused the Governor Fayose of dramatising and exaggerating the incident.

After a voice vote, the House mandated all the relevant committees to investigate the immediate and remote causes of the Ekiti incident and report back their findings within two weeks.

Meanwhile, the All Progressives Congress (APC) has faulted the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over claims of police deployment to Ekiti State in the governorship election on Saturday.

The party in a press statement on Thursday, signed by the National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, said: “We reject the claim by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that policemen were drafted to Ekiti State to harass PDP supporters in Saturday’s governorship election in favour of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Governorship candidate, Dr. Kayode Fayemi.

“As usual with elections, extra security deployment is routine to keep the peace for credible and transparent elections.

“With PDP’s claim in its press statement, it is obvious that its leadership does not have the facts of the actual events in Ekiti State or it is deliberately attempting to divert public attention from the comical performance put up by Governor Ayodele Fayose on Wednesday, which was clearly contrived to give the impression to the public that he was being persecuted.

“Somehow, Fayose has contrived to make this election about him. But it is not. The contest is between Dr. Fayemi and the Professor that has continued to hide behind Fayose’s fingers.

What is clear to every voter in Ekiti is that to vote for this Professor is to hand Fayose a third term. Given their horrid experience with him, they have wisely rejected them both”.

The APC further said that PDP in Ekiti State has read the handwriting on the wall, adding, “They know they have lost the election. They therefore have to save their face with these wild allegations.

“The story of how Fayose used the security agencies to manipulate the last election is still fresh in the memory of the people. Unfortunately for him, he has no such opportunity this time. Winning a free and fair election is a strange territory to him and that’s why he is looking stranded.

“It is therefore mischievous of PDP to continue to claim that the Police assaulted Fayose on Wednesday after Fayose himself has apologised to the Police authorities for lying against their officers. The ultimate decision about who governs Ekiti lies with the people of that state, which they will make on the principle of one man one vote”, the party added.

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