Concerns over rigging and violence in next Saturday’s governorship election have triggered apprehension over Ekiti State.
The poll, expected to be a crucial battle between the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is already witnessing a flurry of accusations, counter-accusations, pleas and prayers.
These are coming amid a deployment of 30,000 policemen mandated to “deal decisively” with persons or groups that breach the law.
Police spokesman, Jimoh Moshood, said the personnel would comprise Police Mobile Force Units, Counter-terrorism Unit, the Special Protection Unit, the Anti- bomb Squad, conventional policemen, the Armament Unit, personnel of the Force Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department and a sniffer dogs section.
In yet another development, the PDP, southwest zone, yesterday, warned the Federal Government not to interfere unduly or manipulate the election.
It said while President Muhammadu Buhari has constitutional control of the security forces and other government agencies, he must be fair and resist party pressure to compromise his oath of office.
“We declare that as a party, the PDP has prepared strenuously and campaigned vigorously to win this election.
We, therefore, will not accept any action targeted at compromising the election,” it said in a statement by Publicity Secretary Ayo Fadaka.
The PDP also accused Ondo State Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu of meddling in the affairs of Ekiti State with a “determination to prosecute criminal actions towards rigging the election.”
It advised the Ondo State government to “concentrate on discharging its allocated responsibilities to the people of Ondo State, a function it continues to discharge most abysmally.”
But Steve Otaloro, APC’s Director of Media and Publicity in Ondo State, debunked the allegations, describing Buhari as a man of integrity who does not believe in rigging to win elections.
He said the PDP is being haunted by the alleged electoral foul it committed against the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and Kayode Fayemi’s second term bid in 2014.
Fayemi is the APC candidate in Saturday’s election.
“The present governor (Ayodele Fayose) is jittery. The situation on ground clearly shows he has lost grip and popularity among the people.
Come next Saturday, he will be voted out. PDP is like a drowning man doing everything to discredit the APC, but we are focused on this election,” he said.
Otaloro, who is also the Director of Communications for the Buhari/Osinbajo Continuity Group (BOCOG), insisted Akeredolu has not violated any law.
“He has the right to campaign for the candidate of his party in Ekiti. Knowing full well that he cannot vote there, why is PDP afraid of him?” he asked.
This is as a group of elders, Igbimo Ure Ekiti (IUE), warned politicians across all parties to desist from truncating the wishes of Ekiti people.
Addressing a press conference in Lagos, yesterday, president of the group, Prince Julius Adelusi-Adeluyi, declared that there would be consequences for any politician involved in acts of violence before, during and after the exercise.
“We believe we have the capacity not only to give this warning, but also to enforce it.
This is why we are saying no to rigging, no to violence, no to thuggery and no to ballot-box snatching,” he said, urging the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to be neutral.
The Ekiti State chapter of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) also voiced concern over the poll, urging INEC and security agencies to ensure credibility.
He disclosed that members of the association have been placed on alert in the event of any emergency.
He, however, cautioned: “It is dangerous to commit the lives of patients into the hands of hungry doctors.”
Hoping for a divine intervention, Toyin Raji, Assistant Pastor In-Charge of King’s Parish of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), led his congregation in prayers for a peaceful election at Usin-Ekiti, Ikole Local Govern.