Vote buying, violence mar election in Ondo LGs


Peter Dada, Bola Bamigbola, Olufemi Olaniyi and Abiodun Nejo

Many residents of eight local government areas of Ondo State monitored by our correspondents were induced to vote in particular directions on Saturday in the governorship election.

There were also pockets of violence in a few councils despite the seemingly peaceful atmosphere.

Our correspondents, who noted that a  large number of residents trooped out for the poll, added that in most of the units visited in the councils, representatives of political parties used money to influence the choice of who the residents cast their voted for.

Our correspondents visited units and wards in the Akoko South-West, Akoko South-East, Akoko North-West, Akoko North-East, Idanre, Akure North, Ondo West, and Owo local government areas

It was observed that voters were induced with sums of money ranging from N3,000 to N5,000 at polling centres, while policemen manning the centers ignored the electoral fraud.

Our correspondents reported that after reaching agreement, the ‘pay master’ stayed at a strategic point to confirm that the preferred candidate was voted for on the ballot.

After the voting, each voter would meet their ‘pay master’ at the back of the polling units to collect the money.

Also, it was observed that many voters did not observe the COVID-19 protocols.

The state Police Public Relations Officer, Mr Tee-Leo Ikoro, however, said policemen attached to the polling centres did their jobs professionally.

“I don’t think such a thing happened because I followed the AIG to monitor the exercise, and we did not see anything like vote buying; and we did not get any report of such. So it not true.”

Meanwhile, there were also pockets of violence in some areas, including wards in the Akure South and Akure North LGAs.

For instance, before voting commenced at Ward 4, Unit 11, Oke Ijebu, Akure, there was an incident of shooting when two gunmen fired several shot into the air.

Sources at the polling unit said many people waiting to cast their votes scampered to safety.

The PPRO, however, said normalcy was restored to the area and voting continued.

Also at Unit 002, Ward 4, Ijomu/Obanla Area, Akure, a man was stabbed by a suspected hoodlum.

But Ikoro said the incident happened before voting commenced, adding that the victim was rushed to hospital.

Faulty card reader delays Jegede

Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party, Eyitayo Jegede, and his wife, Eno, could not immediately vote on Saturday as the card reader failed to recognise them.

Jegede, and his wife had arrived at the Sacred Heart Primary School, Ward 2, Unit 10, Isikan, where he voted around 9am.

When it was his turn to vote, the smart card reader did not read Jegede and his wife’s cards, but his daughter cast her vote without any hitch.

After about 10 minutes later, the card error was rectified and Jegede and his wife were able to cast their vote.

Speaking later, Jegede, accused the Independent National Electoral Commission of creating problem for voters.

He said, “I have been in the queue for two hours; I don’t have problem with that. But the machine stopped functioning when it was my and my wife’s turn to vote; but thank God because of public focus, the machine became active again.

“I pray that this will not recur because if it can happen to me, it can happen to anybody. I plead with INEC to improve on its performance.

“Here at this unit, the voters had conducted themselves in a peaceful manner. Unfortunately, it is INEC that is creating the problem for voters. But I hope things will be okay. I expect I will win, I expect victory.”

Ajayi votes in rain, says security compromised

Also, the Ondo State Deputy Governor and Zenith Labour Party governorship candidate, Agboola Ajayi, has expressed reservations about security arrangement, saying it is compromised.

The deputy governor, who arrived at his polling booth under an umbrella because of light rain, cast his vote around 10.32am at Apoi Ward II, Unit 004.

Ajayi said, “Ondo State people are ready to vote freely. In any contest, there must be a winner. They should allowed the process to be free and fair.

“But I want to say the way we have seen it here, the security arrangement is a bit compromised which is not exactly what happened in Edo State.

“I want to appeal to the security agents to live up to expectation, be neutral, see that every Nigerian’s vote counts.

“I just received a distress call from Gbeleju Oke where a militant in this country lay siege to the place. He did not register there, he decided to go there to force voters to vote for the APC and security men were there watching. I think the whole world should call on the Inspector General of Police to direct his men to do the needful.”

Earlier, Ajayi had described the news making the rounds that he had stepped down from the race as the handiwork of mischief makers who thought they could sway his teeming supporters.

Ajayi, who spoke with journalists in his Kiribo residence, said, “They thought they could sway the minds of my supporters, but they got it wrong because the minds of my supporters are already made up to vote for me.”

God’ll give me victory, says Akeredolu

Similarly, the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Rotimi Akeredolu, expressed optimism of winning the election on Saturday.

The state governor, who arrived at Polling Unit 6, Ward 5 at Isokun in the Ijebu Owo area of Owo, around 9.37am after the rain, did not join the queue as he was ushered to where he was accredited together with his wife, Betty.

Addressing journalists after casting his vote, Akeredolu, who is seeking re-election as the governor of the state, said God would give him victory.

Akeredolu said, “I am confident about winning this election. I have always said that mine is about God. I know that God in his infinite mercy will give me victory. My confidence is in God.”

When asked by journalists about his observations, Akeredolu said, “I only know about my polling unit, I have not being to other places, but we have voted in a peaceful manner here.”

He, however, advised the electorate to exercise their franchise and eschew violence.

The wife of the governor also expressed optimism.

Thugs disrupt voting in Idanre

In a related development, some suspected political thugs disrupted the election process in Idanre town, Idanre Local Government Area.

It was gathered that the hoodlums attacked some wards in the council, including Omifun-Oposun, Alepupa and Jingbe, Oliyewu, Legbira, Elebisire, Erinjo, Agric and Ajebandele.

Sources, alleged that the thugs were All Progressives Congress members, saying the hoodlums  shot into the air to scare the voters away while some people were allegedly beaten up.

One of the sources said, “At Ward 9 in Omifun-Oposun, voting had reached an advanced stage when the thugs stormed the area, snatched ballot papers and started thumb-printing in favour of the APC.”

In reaction, the state APC chairman, Mr Ade Adetimehin, denied the allegation, adding that those making the allegation were members of the Peoples Democratic Congress, who were suffering from the defeat of the election.

Adetimehin said, “The reports reaching me said the election had been free and fair so far. It is the PDP members that are spreading the rumour to have excuses for their defeat in the election.”

The state Police Public Relations Officer, Mr Tee-Leo Ikoro, also said, “I have called the DPO in that area and he said there was nothing like that. Also, no police officer would support violence anywhere.”

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