The voting exercise across the 30 local government areas of the state witnessed a massive turnout of voters. Reports late yesterday showed that the candidates of the two main political parties, Gboyega Oyetola of ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and Ademola Adeleke of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) were running neck-and-neck and watchers said the result was too close to call. The collation of results was still ongoing at the time of going to press and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had warned against declaring results not authorised by the electoral body, but feelers from across the state showed the two leading parties are in a close contest in the governorship race. Earlier indication had put the candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) , Iyiola Omisore, in the mix as he made a good showing in Osun East Senatorial District as the new party tested its popularity in the Osun State governorship election.
LEADERSHIP Sunday reports that most of the candidates, including the ones from the newly registered political parties that participated in the election, came up strong in areas they chose their candidates from. In Osun West, the PDP candidate, Adeleke, who also represents the area in the red chamber of the National Assembly, was leading in most of the polling units.
In Osun Central where the candidate of the APC, Oyetola resides, the party also had the upper hand. Speaking to journalists, Adeleke, who voted around 8am, said that even though there was a hitch with the card reader, the officials fixed it within five minutes and he was able to vote. “So, everything is going on well, the security people are doing their jobs. INEC officials are also doing their job. So far, everything is going on well and peaceful. I hope it continues that way,” Adeleke said.
While advising INEC to always ensure they have a backup for card readers, Adeleke said it was the safest way to avoid rigging. “With the card readers functioning well, we will always have a credible election. They should make sure that the card readers have backup,” he said. The PDP candidate expressed confidence in his chances at the election. “Surely, in a free and fair election, I am going to win, there is no question about that,” he asserted. On the certificate forgery charges the police slammed against him, Adeleke said: “The APC government in this state under Aregbesola know that they cannot win because they have done badly.
“They threw up all forms of intrigues; they even tried to stop me from being the PDP candidate; they lied against me, but I thank God that any time they do that, I always overcame them and their antics and I still remain the PDP candidate. I have voted. Nobody has come to arrest me. So, democracy must thrive in Nigeria. Let people decide who they want.”
At Akoda unit of Ede area, election ended as early as 2pm, while in Sekona, a few metres away, huge numbers voters were seen still being accredited.
“As you can see, everywhere is peaceful. The Smart Card Readers functioned very well in our polling unit,” Olatunji Olajide said.
LEADERSHIP Sunday reports that in most of the polling units in Osun West senatorial district, voters conducted themselves in peaceful manner.
In Ede area, most of the polling units, including Kuye ward 2, the voters conducted themselves in peaceful manner with a lot of security personnel on ground.
“From the reports I am receiving, everywhere is calm but the people don’t know who will win as at now, because there are strong political parties in the state, a security officer told LEADERSHIP Sunday.
At the time of filing this report, results were being collated from ts0he local government areas. Our correspondents who monitored the election across the three senatorial districts of the state report that many voters arrived at their polling units as early as 7am to wait for election officials. Across many polling units in Osogbo, the state capital, enthusiastic voters queued patiently to cast their votes for their choice candidates. Accreditation of voters commenced by 8am in virtually all the polling units across the state, following the early arrival of electoral officials and materials. At Ward Union Baptist School 006 area of Osogbo, the presiding officer told our correspondents that though they collected all the election materials as early as 6am, they had to wait for the stipulated time by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to commence the exercise. By 7:30am, the names of eligible voters at Ataoja ‘D’ Ward 004, Unit 005, had been posted for viewing and confirmation before accreditation and voting. Also at Baruwa Ward 4, Units 19 and 20, Ward 10 polling unit 13, Fagbesa in Osogbo Local Government Area (LGA) , Ward 8, Unit 3, Olorunda LGA and Ward 7, Eripa Boluwaduro LGA and Ward 4, Unit 10, Olobu Road, Irepodun LGA, INEC officials and election materials arrived well ahead of time.
One of the electoral officials, Mrs. Alawode Abidemi, who spoke with LEADERSHIP Sunday at polling Unit 1, Ward 3, Ifon, Oloru LGA, said they arrived at the polling centres with the election materials at about 6:30am, while the accreditation of the first voter began exactly at 8am, adding that the card reading machines worked perfectly.
It was observed that security personnel, including the police and personnel of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), were deployed in strategic locations.
At the polling units on Ifon Road, eligible voters were accredited by the use of the card reader, with the presence of security operatives helping to smoothen the process. Herold Mercy, an assistant presiding officer in the area, told our correspondents that the exercise was seamless as adequate materials were provided for the election. At Boluwaduro and Boripe LGAs, the materials and officials also arrived at polling centres as early as 7am. Electoral officials were also at their duty posts ahead of the commencement of the accreditation exercise.
Meanwhile, enthusiastic voters, mostly elderly people, thronged the various polling centres in Orolu Ward to perform their constitutional responsibility.
The candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Ademola Adeleke, who voted at Abogunde Ward 2, Ede South local government at 8:05am, expressed his satisfaction at the electoral process. He stated that if the process was maintained, he was optimistic of victory in the election, adding that the goodwill the people of the state had for his brother, the late Senator Isiaka Adeleke, would help towards his electoral victory. In the same vein, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola, expressed satisfaction with the conduct of the exercise.
Oyetola, who came to his polling Unit 2, Ward 1, LA Primary School Popo, Iragbiji, Boripe LGA of the state, in the company of his wife and daughter, said the reports he was getting from his party agents across the state indicated that the process was smooth, free and fair. “To God be the glory, the process of the election is peaceful and INEC has done very well so far. My expectation is that we have a peaceful, free and fair election all through. “People have come out enmasse to cast their votes and I have just performed my own civic responsibility as the candidate of APC. I have a lot of confidence in the process because there had been no report of any serious issue from all APC party agents across the state,” he said. Similarly, the candidate of Social Democratic Party (SDP), Senator Iyiola Omisore, voted at about 11:25am at Moore Ward 1, Polling Unit 003, inside Yemoo, National Museum extension, Moore, Ile-Ife.
Omisore complained of insufficient electoral materials in some polling centres in Osogbo, and said that some card readers malfunctioned in some voting centres in Ile-Ife, just as he stated that some polling units were not supplied with voting materials in Osogbo. Omisore urged the electorate to perform their civic duty despite the irregularities of INEC.
He warned against vote buying and selling, telling the electorate to be aware that once they collect money to vote, they would not have the right to challenge anyone who wins through that means if he uses the office to maltreat them. Also speaking, former Minister of Police Affairs, Mr. Jelili Adesiyan commended security agents for their civil conduct, adding that Osun electorate’s conduct deserved commendation. On his part, Senator Olasunkanmi Akinlabi, a stalwart of PDP in Ayedaade local government, expressed satisfaction with INEC’s preparedness for the election.
..2 Arrested over vote buying, as thugs fight over money
Police reportedly arrested two people in connection with a compiled list of names and significant amount of money at Ward 11 Unit 14 of Osogbo LGA, Osogbo.
One of the suspects was simply identified as AY. Policemen sprang into action when the suspicious movements of the two were noticed and they were immediately apprehended after a thorough check. The two were seen handcuffed and taken away. The Resident Electoral Commissioner(REC) in the state, Olusegun Agbaje, confirmed the arrest of one person by security agencies in Iwo LGA over attempted vote buying during the ongoing governorship election. Agbaje, who confirmed the development to our correspondents through a phone call, said the suspect was arrested with about N600,000 and had been handed over to the police. The REC said, “At Iwo, we got a report that security agencies arrested someone with about N600,000 cash near their polling unit. It was earlier this morning. The person was arrested and he is already with the police. “I would not know the party he belongs. We are not interested in any party, we are interested that somebody came there, that is why the police are investigating. The person is already with the police. “We said it that people should not bring money near a polling station. Anybody that does that, would be arrested.” Meanwhile, some party supporters and thugs at unit 003 Ward 1 Ataoja ‘A’ in Osogbo engaged in a brawl over the money allegedly dropped for them by one of the notable politicians in the area. The politician, who is said to be a senatorial aspirant, was passing by the unit with armed security escort when the political thugs surrounded his convoy demanding money. They dissolved into a serious fight as they struggled to be in control of the gift money.
Adeleke Raises Concern Over Card Reader
Meanwhile, the candidate of the PDP, Ademola Adeleke, yesterday expressed concern over the malfunctioning of card reader at the initial stage of voting. Senator Adeleke voted in Ward 2 Unit 9 at Sagba-Abogunde in Ede North at about 8:01am after an initial hitch caused by the card reader. “The card reader took a lot of processes before it started working and I hope it is not the same in other polling units”. Against this background, the Ademola Adeleke Campaign Organisation warned against manipulation of the results of the governorship poll, insisting that the will of the people must be respected. Director of media and publicity of the organisation, Olawale Rasheed, in a statement yesterday said, “As results are being collated across the state, we demand utmost fair play and transparency from the electoral body. We are watching and monitoring closely. Under no circumstance should the collation process be manipulated.
“Our agents and leaders are on their toes armed with relevant results and forms. The will of the people must be respected. We task INEC and security agencies to obey the directive of President Muhammad Buhari who had ordered that the Osun electoral process should never be manipulated by federal or any related agencies.
“We call on local and international observers to take note of the ongoing process and assist the people of Osun state to realise the supremacy of their electoral will. Our people should also be ever vigilant to protect their votes and their aspirations for better life.”
… PDP Raises The Alarm Over Attack On Collation Centres
Meanwhile, the PDP has raised the alarm over what it termed desperate moves by the All Progressives Congress (APC) to hijack the collation of results in the Osun governorship election, following their realisation that they have lost at the polling units.
The party, in a statement by its national spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, said that “APC thugs, aided by security agencies, are stirring violence in Ila, Boripe LGA where they are attacking collation centre, manhandling and chasing out agents of our party, in a bid to disrupt the collation of results and alter the figures, having realised that their party has lost at the polling units.
“The PDP also has information that the APC unleashed similar violent mission in Ikire, Oriade Local Government. Our party also has report that the APC thugs are mobilising to Ede to disrupt collation of results.
The opposition party urged its members and the people of Osun State to remain at alert and not allow the APC to thwart the process.
“The PDP, in very strong terms, cautions the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) not to allow anybody, including its staff, to, in any way, alter results polled and already declared at the polling units as such is capable of attracting dire consequences for the perpetrators,” the statement said.
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