All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship primary in Ekiti State ended in chaos, after angry party members and thugs hijacked and smashed ballot boxes on the pitch of Oluyemi Kayode Stadium, Ado- Ekiti, venue of the election. Security operatives rushed to the scene, picked the damaged boxes and packed the scattered ballot papers on the floor back into the boxes.
They immediately formed a wall to prevent thugs from carting away other ballot boxes as the venue of the exercise became rowdy. However the party member who allegedly joined thugs to smash the ballot boxes was arrested and whisked away by security operatives.
The disruption took place after delegates from five of the 16 councils in the state, Ado, Moba, Ilejemeje, Ekiti East and Efon, had voted. Timely intervention of mobile police saved the situation from becoming violent. The exercise was halted for over one hour as the thugs held sway at the venue. Sachets of pure water were freely thrown at aspirants as the thugs rained abuses on one of the aspirants.
An account linked the crisis to the refusal of the APC Primary Committee members to look into the complaints of anomalies in the voting exercise by one of the aspirants Another account had it that a security agent who was described as a close ally of one of the aspirants was alleged to have been making attempt to manipulate the process. But for the wall formed by security operatives, the thugs would have attacked aspirants.
The aspirants had to be relocated from the stands following the advice of top security chiefs at the venue. Speaking with newsmen , the Publicity Secretary of the party in Ekit State, Taiwo Olatubosun, said: ”I’m afraid because there is threat to the unity of the party. There were security lapses and a lot of skirmishes were noticed as a result incompetence on the part of the committee “There were complaints that non-delegates had infiltrated the venue immediately after rain. The committee was not properly equipped and prepared to conduct this election.”
A meeting was later held between the Chairman of the Election Committee, Governor Tanko Al- Makura, top security chiefs in the state and the 33 governorship aspirants. The aspirants, with the exception of Dr. Kayode Fayemi, the Minister of Minerals Development, were escorted out of the venue of the election for fear of being mobbed by angry party members. One of the aspirants, Femi Bamisile, confirmed after the meeting, that the election had been suspended and no date has been fixed for a fresh exercise.
The Chairman of the Election Committee, Tanko Al- Makura, who was whisked away from the venue after meeting with the aspirants and security chiefs, could not comment on the disruption. Efforts to seek audience with him proved abortive. Signs that things might turn awry emerged early in the day following a downpour. However, the committee continued with the exercise amid accusations of delegates’inducement after accrediation of 2,409 delegates. There were feelers that some of the delegates were camped somewhere in Ondo State by some of the aspirants, which drew the ire of fellow contenders.
The delegates were said to have been ferried to some communities in Ondo in a convoy of buses. There were also allegations that some aspirants, described by political watchers in the state as the big four -Kayode Fayemi, Segun Oni, Femi Ojudu and Opeyemi Bamidele, induced delegates with money.
Accreditation ended at 2:40pm, while voting started almost immediately. Those described as super delegates, former governors, senators, former and serving Ministers, were called to cast their votes and 2,409 of 2,618 were accredited to vote in the primary election. Despite the fact that rain continued unabated, but this time in a light drizzle, the Chairman of the Election Committee, Al-Malkura, insisted that the process must continue.
“We don’t intend to disenfranchise any delegate, though the rain had delayed us a bit but the process must continue. From metrological report, it was clear that the rain is not likely to stop till 6pm, we are not going to stop for the rain, we are going to continue accreditation even as the rain continue to drizzle”, he said