Ekiti Poll: Tension, tight security as INEC distributes sensitive materials

*Tension, tight security as INEC distributes sensitive materials

*PDP protests, demand credible election

*Urges Ekiti people to protect votes

*As Senate prevails on relevant bodies to be neutral

Tension has continued to heighten in and around Ekiti state as the Independent National Electoral Commission; INEC begins final preparation for the governorship election taking place in the state tomorrow.

Although the electoral umpire said it has cleared 35 political parties to take part in the poll, the contest seems to be between the ruling People’s Democratic Party, PDP and All Progressives Congress, APC in the state.

The struggle to take over the seat of power in the state between the two parties has been so fierce since the beginning of this week when each of them conducted final campaign rallies with allegation and counter allegation on plans to rig the election.

In order to ensure peaceful conduct of the poll amidst claim of threat to disrupt the election from various camps, the federal government has deployed no fewer than 35,000 security personnel with 30,000 coming from the police force alone.

Yesterday, INEC announced that it has begun distribution of sensitive materials to various parts of the state amidst tight security. It disclosed that the materials were being moved from the Ado Ekiti branch of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN to the headquarters of the 16 local government areas of the state.

INEC spokesman in the state, Alhaji Taiwo Gbadegesin who confirmed the distribution said that armed policemen cordoned off the premises of CBN while the exercise lasted explaining that apart from ensuring tight security in the transportation of the materials, the Commission was also tracking all the vehicles conveying them.

“All we are doing is to maintain our stand on transparency and openness even as we also guard against infiltration. The other reason why we are keeping to our plans and programmes is that we do not want failure, especially on issues concerning late arrival of voting materials at all venues”, he stated.

Meanwhile, the Senate has assured Nigerians that it would prevail on relevant bodies to be neutral during the conduct of the governorship election in Ekiti State.

The Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu gave the assurance while addressing a large number of protesters from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP over alleged attack on Ekiti State Governor, Ayo Fayose.

The protesters, led by PDP National Chairman, Uche Secondus stormed the premises of the National Assembly to protest alleged attack on Ekiti State Governor, Ayo Fayose by security agents.

They were also protesting alleged plot by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, and the security agencies to rig the Ekiti gubernatorial election in favour of the All Progressives Congress, APC, on Saturday.

Ekweremadu commended the PDP for organising a peaceful protest, assuring that the Senate would intervene and ensure principles of democracy were respected in running Nigeria.

“We want to thank you for organising a peaceful protest. This is because what you have done is within the textbook of democracy. Democracy is about free speech and free expression.

“We will do everything possible to ensure that we will continue to work within the tenets of democracy.

“We have heard you. We are going to make contacts with all the institutions of democracy as it concerns the state.

“We shall make contact with INEC, Police and other security agencies to ensure that they are neutral.

“We believe to be leaders in Africa. We cannot be leading from the back. We must show leadership by example”, he added.

On his part, the National Chairman of the party, Mr. Uche Secondus, who led the protest, said that Nigerians and the international community were watching to see if there would be elections in 2019.

He said that the assurance for 2019 would be from Ekiti governorship election scheduled for Saturday.

Secondus said that the protest became necessary following the Wednesday’s incident in Ado-Ekiti, where PDP leaders, including Gov. Ayodele Fayose and members, were harassed and manhandled during a rally.

He said that intelligence information showed that some INEC officials and some security agents were already in collusion to rig the Ekiti election.

Secondus said that if the election was right, it would have consequences on 2019 general elections.

Speaking to INEC officials who came out to meet the protesting PDP leaders and members, he said, “We want a free and fair election in Ekiti.

“Anything short of that will be a recipe for problems and crisis and in our own judgment; there may not be elections because that will be the beginning of crisis in our nation”, he declared.

The party also advised the people of Ekiti to vote for its gubernatorial candidate, Prof. Kolapo Olusola-Eleka and protect their votes in the election scheduled for Saturday.

The PDP made this call in a statement issued by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan yesterday saying that the harassment, arrests, threats and Wednesday’s maltreatment of Gov. Ayo Fayose by the police, amplified the need for Ekiti people to vote en mass for the PDP on Saturday.

“We know that the whole essence of the heavy security presence in Ekiti is an attempt to frighten the people and scare them away from participating in the election”, he observed.

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