Protesters in their hundreds, under the aegis of New Era Coalition of Nigeria (NECN), yesterday besieged the headquarters of the All Progressives Congress (APC) during the maiden meeting of its new National Working Committee (NWC), asking the new leadership to look into the alleged ‘fraudulent impositions’ at the party’s national convention.
The protest was held just as the leadership of the APC resolved to challenge the conduct of last weekend’s governorship election in Ekiti state in court, in order to ensure that irregularities, and unconstitutional acts which it said characterized the election, are not repeated in subsequent polls.
But, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which won the Ekiti election, has accused the opposition APC of planning to unleash mayhem on the people of the state.
The Senate was also not spared in the Ekiti guber poll controversy as members of the Upper Chamber nearly engaged themselves in fisticuffs over the credibility or otherwise of the state election, which produced Ayo Fayose, the PDP candidate as winner.
The protesters, in a statement signed by the coordinator of the group, Musa Ahmad Abdulkareem, alleged that the case of Hajia Zuwaira Sani Bakori, whom they said was brazenly robbed of her clear chance of emerging as Deputy National Organising Secretary, should be revisited.
“It has since been confirmed that Alhaji Suleiman Othman has not met the stipulated guidelines, as he was said to be out of the country and never made the obligatory screening because his attempt to be screened by proxy was turned down by the screening committee.
“On the contrary, Zuwaira Sani Bakori entered the contest eligibly and got screened, including attracting enormous votes from the electorates during the convention,” the protesters alleged.
They therefore urged the NWC to declare Zuwaira Bakori immediately as the authentic deputy national organising secretary of the party.
The APC leadership, in a communiqué issued at the end of the inaugural meeting, said the entire electoral process in Ekiti was neither free, fair nor credible. It alleged that its leaders and supporters were hounded and arrested across the state during and after the voting, while “some PDP ministers and stalwarts were moving around freely, with armed escort, even with a restriction on movement in place”.
The party however commended the outgoing governor for his conduct and comportment before, during and after the election.
“With thousands of armed troops, police, state security and Civil Defence personnel deployed to Ekiti, the state was simply under a total lock down. While we believe that the police and the Civil Defence indeed have a role to play in providing the necessary security for the election, we do not see why soldiers and NDLEA operatives, who were armed to the teeth, needed to be deployed to a non-belligerent situation like an election, especially at a time that their services are more needed in the North Eastern part of Nigeria where over two hundred abducted girls are still missing and where innocent Nigerians are being killed daily.
“In fact, the compromise by the security operatives became more obvious when a so-called Special Task Force comprising of military, police, SSS and NDLEA officers were summoned to a meeting Friday afternoon – a day before the election, near the Tantaliser fast food eatery at Ado-Ekiti.
“In the presence of AIG Bala Nasarawa, Mrs. Florence Ikhanone (National Director of SSS) and Brig.-Gen. Momoh, who was the head of the military to the election, Mr. Ayo Fayose’s Chief Security Officer, Kayode Adeoye, and Chris Uba addressed the curiously-named Special Task Force which included 67 SSS operatives, 30 soldiers, 30 NDLEA operatives and 70 mobile policemen.
“Adeoye and Uba reminded the officers of the Special Task Force of their duty to President Goodluck Jonathan, who was identified as their benefactor, and how the officers must ensure that their benefactor wins the election”, the APC further alleged.
Based on this and others, the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, yesterday said the party would go to court over infringement on the rights of the party’s members.
Mohammed, in a live television programme monitored in Lagos yesterday, said the party was not going to challenge the election result, but to show how grievous the harassment of its governors as well as party members by security agents was.
However, the national leadership of the PDP said the reluctance of the opposition APC to accept the result of an election which its candidate had conceded only demonstrated the party’s “preference for anarchy and blind homage to nihilism and destruction of the democratic order”.
The party, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, said: “The APC has once again confirmed that it is nothing but a chaotic organization, totally averse to democracy and orderliness. It has shown that it is a party of desperate, frustrated and violent individuals promoting a Janjaweed ideology.
“This is a party that is fully aware that it was trounced in all the local governments of the state and even lost in the polling units and wards of its campaign Director-General and that of its Deputy National Chairman, yet it is bent at fomenting trouble to disrupt the peace in Ekiti state apparently out of frustration that it did not get the chance to rig the polls”, the party alleged.
Meanwhile, debate on the credibility of the Ekiti election set senators on edge yesterday as there ensued heated arguments between lawmakers on the platform of the PDP and those of APC.
This was sequel to a presentation made by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Andy Uba (PDP Anambra South), who commended INEC for a job well done.
Uba had relied on Order 43 of the Senate Standing Order, and commended the electoral body for conducting what he described as the most credible election in the country.
The senator, who insisted that the conduct of the Ekiti governorship election by INEC was a departure from previous exercises in the country, commended the security agencies for ensuring adequate security during and after the election, and urged all the relevant stakeholders that contributed to the success of the polls to carry on with the same spirit in subsequent elections.
In a swift reaction, however, Babafemi Ojudu (APC, Ekiti Central), relied on same Order 43 of the Senate Standing Order to draw the attention of the Senate and Andy Uba, that his younger brother, Chris Uba, was one of those who led the police to cause havoc during the election in Ekiti state.
According to him: “My colleague (Andy Uba) had already read Order 43, I don’t need to repeat it. I will like to commend the governor-elect of Ekiti state and my governor for accepting the result of the election.
“But I want to say here, Mr. President, that my colleague who stood here to talk, his younger brother Chris Uba led police to the hotel and smashed all the doors of the hotel….”
He was, however, disrupted by some PDP senators who shouted at him to sit down. Senators Philip Aduda representing the Federal Capital Territory and Smart Adeyemi, representing Kogi West, were among the PDP lawmakers who moved against Senator Ojudu.
Temper rose among the other APC senators who started shouting at their PDP colleagues, causing a row which lasted about five minutes in the Red Chamber.