Hundreds of aggrieved indigenes of Ondo Kingdom have protested over the “irregularities and violence” that allegedly marred the house of assembly election in Ondo State.
The protesting indigenes, comprising youth, artisans and market women, said the assembly poll conducted in Ondo was also characterised by manipulation and intimidation of voters in both Ondo West and East Local Council Areas of the state.
The angry indigenes were joined by members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the African Democratic Party (ADP), African Action Congress (AAC) and Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party (ANRP).
Bearing placards with different inscriptions, the protesters stormed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) office in Akure, singing solidarity songs. They also called for the cancellation of the house of assembly election.
The inscriptions on some of the placards read: ‘INEC Must Cancel Assembly Poll in Ondo’, ‘AAC and ADC Condemn Assembly Election’, ‘Annul March 9 Election in Ondo’, ‘Mimiko is A Tyrant’, ‘Ondo Kingdom Rejects Mimiko’, ‘Mimiko is A Dictator’.
The protesters explained how they were chased away from polling units in Ondo West and East by armed hoodlums, just as they accused Olusegun Mimiko, the former Governor of Ondo state, of colluding with the All Progressives Congress (APC) to manipulate the election.
Segun Adegoke, a factional chieftain of the PDP who spoke on behalf of the protesters, said the house of assembly election conducted in Ondo was the “worst in the history” of the town as thugs had a free day to intimidate and chase away voters from their respective polling units.
“The election of March 9, 2019, in Ondo Kingdom precisely witnessed the exhibition of large scale violence and disturbances in different parts of the kingdom. In retrospect, the violence can be termed to be the worst political experience during election,” he said.
“The plan to rig the election of 9th of March, 2019, in Ondo kingdom was carefully planned on Sunday, the 3rd of March, 2019, in the house of the former Governor of Ondo State, Olusegun Mimiko, with Governors of Ondo and Ekiti states, Rotimi Akeredolu and Kayode Fayemi.
“It is common knowledge that prior to this election, the All Progressives Congress (APC) as a party was in disarray. Within them, the centre could not hold. The confusion and quagmire in which the Governor of Ondo State found himself pushed him to the point of desperation. His fear, however, is not unfounded because the first election of February 23rd had shown him the poor performance of his party.
“It is not surprising therefore that he wanted to win the majority of seats in the Ondo State House of Assembly of the election of March 9 to avoid impeachment. To this end, he called series of meeting with the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), the Iyalojas, the artisans, etc., and gave them money, begging them to vote for his party. He promised to do all kinds of things, should his party win.
“He then remembered that Olusegun Mimiko, former Governor of Ondo State, was in that kind of dilemma in 2015. He ran to him for tutorial as to how he was able to manage it in 2015. It must be remembered, however, that the previous election of February 23 put Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, a distance third in the senatorial election. It is crystal clear that the pride of the former governor was badly wounded and dented
“So, it is easy to find solace in the predicament of Rotimi Akeredolu. It is on this note that the brigandage, daylight robbery, oppression, intimidation, harassment and traumatisation of the people of Ondo kingdom was hatched. In their thoughts, they have conquered the Ondo people politically and as such should share all the constituencies among their cronies through violence, harassment and intimidation.
“It is pertinent at this stage to state that the collaboration between ZLP and APC to balkanise Ondo kingdom is not only irregular, it is also illegal. There is no such provision in the constitution or the electoral act. Their collaboration was as follows: the ZLP agreed not to support its candidate in Ondo East constituency, conceding it to the APC. The APC in return, decided to concede constituency I in Ondo West to the ZLP and ZLP in return conceded constituency II in Ondo West to APC.
“Therefore, it is imperative that the supporters of other parties must be obstructed from voting. The ZLP was so desperate to have a seat in the House of Assembly to later turn over to APC. The ZLP is gradually moving to extinction going by INEC guidelines. But for the collaboration, ZLP would have scored zero in all the elections. It is disheartening that young thugs, armed with guns, knives and all sorts of dangerous weapons scared away the electorate from their various polling units. The people were thoroughly intimidated and harassed; some of the agents were abducted, many were physically attacked and others chased away. The former governor was in charge, supervising this shameless show, harassing innocent voters to vote for the Zenith Labour Party (ZLP) or vacate the arena.
“It was an eye-sore to behold young men who are regarded as leaders of tomorrow brandishing guns and wielding cutlasses menacingly. As far as we in Ondo kingdom are concerned, we reject the result of the March 9 election.”
He went on to cite some incidents he said occurred during the election.
He added: “In ward 1, units 4, 5, 9, 10 and 11, thugs chased away those who are not prepared to vote for the Zenith Labour Party (ZLP). In Ward 11, Mimiko came with his blue Toyota Corolla, accompanied by an ash-coloured bus loaded with thugs and cash.
“Apart from scaring away people, he was giving money to those on the queue to support his rigging plan. In the same ward 11, units 1 and 2, Mimiko addressed some people to chase away those who were unwilling to vote for his party. Those he addressed started disturbing the peace of the unit a few minutes after. Some of his known thugs are Osunmadewa Sunday (a.k.a. Alabi), Fadayomi Idowu (a.k.a. Madman) and a host of others. This was repeated across the entire wards in Ondo West.
“So, we are calling on the Independent National Electoral Commission to cancel this election in the spirit of fairness, equity and justice.”