A member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Deji Adeyanju, on Monday said that the way the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) handled the Ondo State governorship election bore marks of a plan to disenfranchise the candidate of his party.
The governorship election held on Saturday, November 26, was won by the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr Oluwarotimi Akeredou.
But the PDP member is insisting that the election should have been postponed to enable the candidate of hias party, Mr Eyitayo Jegede, whose name was added to the list of candidates 48 hours to the election day, campaign and also submit a list of his agents in the election to the INEC.
Prior to the election day, the division in the PDP had produced two candidates for the governorship election, triggering suits in a court that ruled in favour of Mr Jimoh Ibrahim, a factional candidate.
The INEC had added Mr Ibrahim’s name to the list in obedience to the court’s ruling, but Mr Jegede contested the High Court’s ruling in an Appeal Court, which ruled in his favour few days before the election.
The ruling of the Appeal Court was upheld by the Supreme Court 48 hours to the election and INEC subsequently replaced Mr Ibrahim’s name with that of Mr Jegede.
Mr Jegede requested that the INEC should postpone the election to enable him campaign and present a list of his agents to the electoral body, but the INEC insisted that it would go ahead with the election.
Giving his opinion on the election, Mr Adeyanju insisted that the process was flawed.
“The party (PDP) cannot accept the fraud. From the beginning, when INEC changed the name of Eyitayo Jegede with that of Jimoh Ibrahim, who was not a member of our party but from the Accord Party, we raised alarm that the FG (Federal Government) and the INEC were working together to disenfranchise our party.
“The Court of Appeal has said that the judgement of Justice Okon Abang was a fraud.
“You will also see that Eyitayo Jegede was given 48 hours to campaign. He was not given the opportunity to submit his agents list, as provided by the Electoral Act,” he stated.
Mr Adeyanju further claimed that the INEC also flouted the Electoral Act in the election, which he insisted fell short of the provisions of the Act.
He also accused the INEC of working with the ruling APC to disenfranchise his political party in the Ondo Governorship election.
“The Electoral Act was severely flouted in this election. As far as we are concerned there was no election. We see a situation that the INEC just handed the election to the APC. There was no need for the hurry.
“We have seen, for the first time in this country, an INEC that is acting like an organ of the APC,” he said, further raising concerns over the decision of the INEC not to postpone the Ondo election, as it did in Edo State.
The PDP member claimed that the Edo election was postponed because the electoral body saw that the APC would not win the election.
“In Ondo State INEC had intentionally done grave injustice to Mr Jegede. The Electoral Act said the INEC must give the candidate at least seven weeks for him to submit his candidate.
“Eyitayo Jegede did not have agents in many polling units. We had situations where observers would call in to say there were no agents of the PDP in most polling stations,” he also claimed.
The division in the opposition party has continued to take its toll on the party’s stance in different elections, something that political analysts said had been taken advantage of by other parties to scuttle the PDP’s chances in any election.
But Mr Adeyanju believes there is no faction in his party, insisting that a faction of the party led by Senator Ali Modu Sheriff is loyal to the ruling All Progressives Congress.
Responding to these claims, a member of the APC said the comments by the PDP member were just ‘a fluke’.
“It is known that when people lose election they try to attribute it to one issue or the other. The election was free fair and transparent.
“The claim that the primary election list of the APC was doctored was not true. The issues around delegate list was a propaganda to discredit the conduct of the primary election,” a spokesman for the APC in Ondo State, Abayomi Adesanya, said.
An election observer group had said that the process was credible based on observation at different polling units.
It said over 340 observers were deployed to different polling units.