• Tuesday, April 23, 2024
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BusinessDay

Ondo by-election: APC, PDP trade accusation over vote-buying

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It was dramatic on Saturday at Gbogi Isinkan II, Ward 3, Unit 14 of Akure South Local Government Area of Ondo State as the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the Akure North/Akure South Federal Constituency by-election, Mayokun Lawson-Alade, was chased out of his polling unit.

The incident almost marred the election at the polling unit as the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) accused Lawson-Alade of financial inducement, but for the timely intervention of security agencies and APC leaders who whisked him out of the venue.

Eyewitnesses recounted that the people protested against the APC candidate as he was seen from a distance giving some people money, allegedly to induce them to vote for him.

He was said to be hurriedly moved out of the scene as the people mobilised against him, causing serious furore at the polling unit. This, they said, prevented him from voting.

Some APC members, who preferred anonymity, confirmed the incident and revealed that their candidate only appreciated party supporters by giving them money for soft drinks.

They noted that it was PDP members who mobilised to disrupt the voting process in the polling unit, trying to spoil their candidate’s chances. They disclosed that he was prevented from voting.

Alade, however, debunked the allegation, explaining that “the people spotted me in white and hailed me, trying to hug me. I did not give anybody money to vote for me.”

He claimed that he had voted before he was whisked out of the premises so as not to disrupt the election, expressing the optimism that he would win the election due to his developmental agenda for the growth of Akure Kingdom.

However, voters at the St. Paul Primary School Oba Ile, ward 9, unit 3, in Akure North Local Government Area, also alleged that the state Deputy Governor, Lucky Aiyedatiwa, distributed money during the election.

According to them, Aiyedatiwa who hailed from the Southern Senatorial district of the state was spotted at the venue of the election for some 25 minutes left after discussing with some leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the ward.

Some of the voters, who spoke with journalists said, “We saw the deputy governor, he came to share money, let them share any amount, he would fail. This is PDP unit, we won’t allow them to snatch any ballot box.

“They started enticing voters with money immediately Aiyedatiwa left and when we rejected it, they planned to snatch the boxes. We don’t know the business of the Deputy Governor in our centre; Aiyedatiwa has no business in this election.

“He was here in a black Mercedes Benz G Wagon parked outside the venue of the election and this created tension among voters. We will resist any attempt to manipulate the result of the election in this unit. Let him go to any other ward, but not here.”

But when contacted on phone, Aiyedatiwa denied the allegations saying “it is not true. How can I go around distributing money. What is my own with that? Anyone that says so should bring evidence where they saw me distributing money.

“I live outside government house. I live among the people, so I don’t live in government house for now. So if anybody say they see me, maybe around my area. I don’t understand what they are saying,” they said.

However, a chieftain of the ruling APC and former Commissioner for Works in the state, Saka Yusuf-Ogunleye, confirmed the Deputy Governor’s presence at the unit but said he was only there to monitor the election.

“This is not his ward, he is from the South. But as a senior citizen he came to monitor the situation. How can he be distributing money? He only came here to ask me questions and I told him that the election had been peaceful,” Ogunleye said.

Olumuyiwa Adu, the PDP candidate in his own part lamented the late arrival of voting materials.

Adu, who spoke with journalists after voting at his Oke Aro/Iro unit 9, Ward 5, noted that he had received information from some polling units that INEC ad-hoc staff did not arrive on time.

Although, he commended early arrival in some centres and urged the electoral body to look into the issues raised.

He said that it was too early to access the performance of the electoral commission and had been receiving calls about late arrival of materials in some areas.

“I was here much earlier and the INEC officials were able to read our the guidelines, the code of conduct and other instructions, and to the best of my knowledge, we started well; its too early for me to say whether it is free and fair.

“Even after the end of the conduct, it will be difficult in all the units where this election is taking place, I can only talk about this place where I cast my own vote,” he said.