Saturday 8 July 2023

How violence, fraud marred 2023 presidential and national assembly elections in Osun..... By Adebayo Adedeji


In the political annals of Osun, it is doubtful if there has been an election as perfidious as that of February 25 Presidential and National Assembly Elections. The poll ranks even worse than the infamous 2007 governorship election -- the election where many voters were faced with assassination, violence and intimidation. 

The last Saturday's elections were literally held under siege for many known thugs of the Peoples Democratic Party were on rampage in many part of the state, particularly in areas regarded as strongholds of the opposition All Progressives Congress, APC.

Osun State, for many years, was known for her peaceful ambience owing to the fact that criminal activities were rarely carried out because of the measures installed by the security agencies, in partnership with the state government. But this positive review fizzled out as soon as Senator Ademola Adeleke, of the PDP, was inaugurated as the state governor.

In Osun, opposition members are daily bludgeoned to death and subjected to state-sanctioned terror. In the month of December alone, no fewer than 12 APC sympathisers, mostly members of the NURTW, were gruesomely murdered by hoodlums affiliated to the governing party. 

Son of man has written copiously how heinous crimes, perpetrated against opposition members by PDP thugs like Emir Ajagungbade, Solo Iwara, Bode Itaapa, Collins Fadahunsi, did not get the deserving attention of the security agencies and the state government. These notorious criminals run roughshod on innocent Nigerians, without checks from statutory security agencies. 

Days preceeding the presidential and national assembly elections, PDP thugs were in every nook and cranny of the state to create fears in the supporters and members of the APC. From Atakumosa to Ilesha, from Obokun to Oriade, all in Ijeshaland, the All Progressives Congress members died in multitudes, number not below 15, for no other reason than they wanted to carry out their civic duty. Many of the killings have been traced to thugs on the payroll of PDP chieftains like Sanya Omirin, Senator Ade Fadahunsi, Ibukun Fadipe and Wale Akerele ( Water). 

In towns and villages like Ikirun, Ilesa, Ifetedo, Ede, Edun-Abon, Ila-Orangun, APC members were chased out of town and even on the election day, those who summoned courage to visit their polling units to exercise their franchise were inflicted with violence, to bully other voters to submission.

On the election day, the miscreants were stationed in the APC strongholds to disrupt polls and reduce votes of the opposition. For example, in Iragbiji, home of the immediate former governor of the state, Gboyega Oyetola, four (4) polling units, with numerical strength of over 2,000 votes, were cancelled because Ajagungbade and his goons seized ballot boxes and election materials to distort electoral choice of the people. If electorates had been allowed to freely offer their choices, no doubt, the choice would have been the candidates of the APC and the story of 10,000 leading margin, being told by the morally bankrupt PDP to massage its ego, would not have arisen because the figure would have tilted in favour of the APC, the truly people's choice in the state.

Again, in many polling units in Atakumosa East, Atakumosa West, Ilesa East ( Ward 1, Ward 2 and Ward 5), voters were attacked and threatened not to cast their votes for candidates of the APC.

In Obokun/Oriade axis, political thugs loyal to Hon. Oluwole Oke ( Obokun/Oriade House of Representatives member) led by Femi Akande, in connivance with civil defence officials, unleashed mayhem on voters.

Strangely, nefarious characters behind the terror in the state enjoy full security protection of the state government and law enforcement agencies, regardless that they are mouthed to be on the "Wanted List " of the police.

Also on the election day, fake security agencies, many of them with disguised identities, were seen roaming the major streets in the state. Amotekun operational officers and members of Vigilante Group of Nigeria, said to be acting on the directive of the Chief Security Officer (CSO) to Governor Adeleke, CSP Adekunle Omoyele, were reportedly identified carrying out instructions of the PDP leaders and candidates designed to suppress the will of the voters.

Besides the violence elevated by the governing PDP in the election, the party also engaged in political debauchery with the rotten eggs within the leadership of the Independent National Electoral Commission. In  Atakumosa, Ede and some areas where hoodlums reigned supreme on the election day, the electoral body, through their corrupt Election Officers, used untrained ad-hoc staff, having substituted the trained ones on the night of the election. In the concerned areas, unauthorised citizens voted without PVC, in brazen disregard to the 2022 Electoral Act and extant laws. In Ede where  an APC agent, during collation, raised eyebrow regarding the incidents of over-voting that pervaded the polls in  units covered by him, he was kidnapped on the order of the Chief of Staff to Governor Adeleke, Kazeem Akinleye.

In other areas where candidates of the APC were coasting home to victory, pliable INEC officials were visibly seen cancelling duly recorded election results to undermine chances of the APC candidates. Cases like the foregoing were severally experienced in Orolu local government area.

So, when unsuspecting members of the public rate condescendingly the performance of the APC in the February 25 elections, without situating it within the harsh context the poll was conducted, they may be axing some critical indicators in the  objective evaluation chart. The feat of 343,945 votes polled by the APC in the presidential election must be duly acknowledged, not because it is the best and highest vote ever recorded in the history of the progressive party in the state, but because the votes are genuine and unblemished. They were returned for the party by the electorate with love and enthusiasm, unlike the PDP votes that came with sorrow, tears and blood.

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