The suspended Ekiti East Constituency 1 byelection has pitched the state chapters of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) against each other. ANAYO EZUGWU reports
Despite the promise by the Governor of Ekiti State, Dr Kayode Fayemi to arrest and prosecute those involved in the violence that marred the recent Ekiti East Constituency 1 by-election in Ekiti State, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are still at loggerheads over who instigated the violence.
Governor Fayemi had assured electorates in the state that anyone who was involved in the dastard act would go unpunished.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) suspended the Constituency by-election indefinitely over cases of violence on election day. Suspected party thugs shot dead three persons while five others sustained gunshot wounds during the by-election.
The seat became vacant, following the death of an APC) lawmaker representing the constituency, Juwa Adegbuyi, in February.
Speaking after INEC suspended Ekiti East Constituency 1 of the State House Assembly election, Fayemi directed the Commissioner of Police in the state, Babatunde Mobayo, to ensure that everybody involved in the violent act are apprehended and brought to book regardless of their party affiliation.
So far the police have arrested three suspects in connection to the violence which claimed the lives of two people.
The governor also reiterated the commitment of his administration to upholding the sacredness of life and sanctity of the electoral process.
“This violence is most unwarranted and deeply disturbing. I have instructed the police authorities to fish out the perpetrators and ensure they face the music.
The government would not relent in efforts to always ensure the safety of lives and properties. We shall ensure all purveyors of violence are brought to book,” he said.
Irrespective of the promise made by Governor Fayemi, the PDP has insisted that APC was responsible for the violence that took place during the by-election in the state.
The Publicity Secretary of the party in Ekiti State, Raphael Adeyanju, said the ruling party in the state does not believe in free and fair polls. Adeyanju alleged that APC always engages in violence to win elections in the state.
“The violence was as a result of a party not believing in itself, a party believing that it cannot win a free and fair election and a party’s belief in violence and criminality.
The ruling party in Ekiti State, the All Progressives Congress, has never won a free and fair election; it has always engaged n violence, it has always benefitted from violence and act of criminality.
“On that day, it was just a constituency and on the eve of the election, the APC government had mobilized most of its functionaries, party leaders and thugs to disrupt the election because they knew they could not win.
When they got to the polling centre, they were overwhelmed by the majority of the PDP electorate on the ground.
What they wanted to do was to make sure that the election did not hold or to snatch ballot boxes so that they could do what they had always done. In the process, they started engaging in what they knew how to do. They started shooting people.
“In fact, I can even say that the PDP Senator representing Ekiti South District, Mrs Biodun Olujimi, was the target. They wanted to kill her, the woman had to escape on an Okada (commercial motorcycle) and they were even chasing her and shooting.
It was because they had already failed and they were trying to forestall their failure,” he said.
According to Adeyanju, during the first tenure of Governor Fayemi, there were so many political killings; people like Madam Julianah Adewumi, Mr Ayo Jeje and some others were killed.
He noted that after an election then, some people including Solar, who was arrested in connection with the by-election’s killing, were arrested. “The trial was ongoing until the APC came back to power and released Solar.
The young man is a well-known member of the APC. “During the last local government election, you remember that somebody was killed in Ikere Ekiti and that was an election in which APC contested against itself. During Fayemi’s first tenure in office, people were killed in Omuo, Erinjiyan and virtually every part of the state.
So you can agree that these people are killers. In fact, I have described the APC as a brood of deadly vipers. There are killers in the APC.
“The party does not believe in free and fair elections, the party does not believe in peace, but violence. It is a known fact that those that were arrested over last Saturday’s violence are APC thugs.
On Election Day, they were seen with prominent APC leaders and government functionaries. They may want to cover up, but everybody knows the APC is full of congenital liars.”
But the APC has disputed PDP’s claims, saying that police report, court charges didn’t link the party to the violence. The southwest zonal publicity secretary of the party, Karounwi Oladapo, said the allegation by the PDP is speculation. He noted that the police have arrested those that were responsible and they are being tried before the court and to date.
“The police had not said that those arrested were the APC members and there is nothing in the charge sheet presented before the court by the prosecuting police officer that indicated that those they arrested were APC members.
And from the investigation that they carried out and submitted before the court, there was no clause or sentence there that indicated that the suspects are APC thugs or that the APC sponsored them.
Therefore, any other thing outside of what is before the court is speculation, unnecessary politics and a partisan statement which we can count as mere opinion of those people who want to read politics into it.
“What can be relied upon is what is before the court, the report from the police and the police officers that investigated and brought the matter before the court.
Even in their context, they know they are telling lies because the Ekiti people know the two leaders Ekiti State had produced by way of governors from our party – Otunba Niyi Adebayo and Dr Kayode Fayemi.
By every yardstick, these two persons are complete gentlemen, men of honour, character, integrity and men that being have in the manner that speak accurately to the values of Ekiti.
“You cannot attribute violence to Fayemi, check his track records all his life, check the track records of Niyi Adebayo, how then do you think that the party they are leading can be associated with crime and criminalities?
But for a fact, we know that one of the leaders of their party (the PDP) was prematurely removed from government in Ekiti State because of serial killing. Ekiti State rose up in 2006 to say no, enough is enough of the killings and shedding of blood.
The leadership of the PDP witnessed and supervised the killing of a personality for just a mere rerun councillorship election in Ekiti State in 2005.
Can you remember that limbs were cut for rerun election in Ido/Osi under the PDP? “It is the PDP that harbours the nest of killers and always unleashes violence. Gauge the temperature whenever the APC is in governance in Ekiti State, there is always the ambience of peace. There is usually no tension because our party is not cultured in a manner that will not allow peace to reign.
But we know the PDP to be one day, one trouble,” he said. According to Oladapo, the violence that occurred during the election was needless.
He noted that the exercise was free and fair up till about 1 pm and there was no tension really even the PDP had not really put up a strong fight. “I was at Omuo Ekiti as a member of the APC Election Planning and Management Committee.
“You know there are some elections that would be tension-soaked when the two dominant parties would be at par, but on this occasion, we could not really find the PDP on the streets.
People were exercising their franchise freely and fairly under a peaceful atmosphere until when we got the news of what happened at Unit 7 Ward 7 which happened to be Senator Biodun Olujimi’s ward.
So, largely, if anybody says anything to the contrary, he would be speculating.
“As I said, I was not at that polling unit, the news we got was that there were arguments back and forth between the PDP and the APC it was the mismanagement of the argument that led to a fight between some supporters of the PDP and the APC.
In the process, the very unexpected, one criminal just came out of anger that he was severely beaten and he did the unexpected. In fact, characters like that are not fit to live within a decent society.”
As Ekiti people await the announcement of a new date for the bye-election by INEC and the outcome of the police investigation, the governor and security agencies need to address election violence to forestall future occurrence ahead of 2022 governorship election in the state.