The ruling All Progressives Congress has appeared before the Nigerian Army Panel Investigating the Ekiti governorship election, alleging that soldiers connived with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to rig the election.
At the One Mechanized Division Headquarters of the Nigerian Army in Kaduna State, North West Nigeria, venue of the panel, the Ekiti State All Progressives Congress (APC) Chairman, Mr Olajide Awe, testified on behalf of his party.
He alleged that military officials were involved in misconduct during governorship elections that was held more than a year ago.
Perceived Militarisation Of Process
The APC also alleged that there were perceived militarisation of the electoral process, as that was aptly demonstrated by the restriction of movement, arrest and harassment of many of its members by soldiers on the election day.
The party also claimed that some APC governors were barred from entering the state for the final rally of the party on June 19, 2014.
The party urged the military authorities to properly investigate the allegations, with a view to sanctioning its personnel and advising them on how to be civil when monitoring future elections.
It also asked the Federal Government to punish perpetrators of such illegality.
The witnesses were 15 in number; 14 from the APC and one from the PDP, as they gave their individual accounts of what transpired before, during and after the Ekiti State governorship election.
When the first witness came to the dock, the Secretary of the Panel, Colonel Danladi Salihu, administered the oath before the commencement of the probe.
The President of the panel and General Officer Commanding One Mechanised Division, Major General Adeniyi Oyebade, set the ball rolling by intimating the visitors the purpose of the sitting.
He told them that the panel was for fact finding and aimed at investigating the allegations of misconduct levelled against some army personnel during the election.
Major General Oyebade also assured them that the army authorities would not harass anyone of them during the course of their testimony and interrogation, hence the need for them to feel free to make their presentations.
With the remark from the President of the panel, the Ekiti APC Chairman was the first to testify.
‘Not Free And Fair’
Although the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had on 22 June, 2014, declared Mr Ayo Fayose of the PDP the winner of the Ekiti governorship election held on 21 June, 2014, he said the election was far from being free and fair.
The APC chairman claimed the events before, during and after the election indicated that it was not free and fair, alleging that the election was rigged in a manner the country had never witnessed before.
He also stated that many APC leaders from different local governments and communities were allegedly arrested late at night before the election and were released without any charges brought against them after the announcement of the results of the governorship election.
He equally narrated to the panel how soldiers, acting on the orders of the Brigade Commander, General Momoh, seized money meant for logistics from APC leaders on the eve of the election.
After making his submissions, members of the panel did not allow the APC chairman to go without asking him questions.
They asked him if he had photographs or video clips to substantiate his claims.
They also asked him why the APC accepted the result of the election even with such heavy allegations.
In response, the Chairman explained that the decision to accept the result was taken in order to avoid breakdown of law and order as directed by the then Governor, Kayode Fayemi, who was also the party’s governorship candidate in the election.
The second person to appear before the panel was the Ekiti state PDP Secretary, Dr Tope Aluko, who refused to make his submission in the presence of journalists.
Instead, he insisted that he would make his presentation behind closed door for the safety of his life, a request that was granted to him by the President.
The Nigerian Army authorities had on November 9, 2015 inaugurated a five-man panel of inquiry to investigate and make appropriate recommendations on alleged partisanship of some soldiers and officers during the 2014/ 2015 general elections across Nigeria.
With few days to the end of its sitting, it is expected that more of those who were aggrieved with the roles played by the military would appear before the panel which would end its sitting on November 20.
According to the President of the panel, all findings and recommendations would be forwarded to the Chief of Army Staff where actions would be taken in line with military tradition.