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EKITI PDP PROTEST OVER INEC OFFICIALS’ TAMPERING WITH USED BALLOT PAPERS

By Lere Olayinka
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The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ekiti State has protested the involvement of officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the invalidation of votes gathered by the party in the House of Assembly election for Ekiti East Local Government Constituency II, calling on the electoral commission to make sure that those involved in the dastardly act are made to face the full wrath of the law.

Numbering over 100, the party members, who stormed the INEC office in Ado-Ekiti with more than 10 vehicles, displayed placards with inscriptions such as; “Jega proof your objectivity,” “Jega practice what you preach,” “we ask for justice,” “Is this democracy” among others.

They delivered a protest letter titled; “Re: Arrest of 7 INEC officials and their collaborators” to the State Resident Electoral Commissioner, Alhaji Halilu Pai. The letter was received on behalf of the REC, who was said to have travelled to Abuja in respect of the case by an Assistant Director in the commission.

The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), which won 24 out of the 26 seats in the State House of Assembly is challenging the result of the Ekiti East Local Government Constituency II one of the two seats won by the PDP.

The seven INEC members of staff were arrested at an undisclosed hotel in Ado-Ekiti last week Thursday and are currently being detained at the headquarters of the state Criminal Investigation Department (CID), Ado Ekiti.

One of the suspects in police net, Olusola Popoola had been arrested for similar offence on March 22, 2009, when he was caught with election materials and detained at the Okesa Police Station in Ado Ekiti. The April 14, 2007 governorship election's Form EC8A found in possession of Oladapo included that of polling units like AUD Primary School, Iyin II, Alayinrin Compound, Ariyo Compound and others. The Action Congress (AC) now Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) won in all the polling units.

In the letter signed by the party chairman, Chief Bola Olu-Ojo and Secretary, Gboyega Akinola which was copied to the Inspector General of Police, National Director of SSS, National Security Adviser, PDP national Chairman among others, the PDP also called for the immediate arrest of the incumbent chairperson of Ekiti East Local Government, Mrs Alaba Anthonia Omonusi, who allegedly sponsored the INEC officials.

Mrs Omonusi was also the ACN candidate in the election and the first petitioner in the case filed against the PDP victory in the election.

“We therefore appeal to you to ensure that justice is manifestly seen to have been done, in particular the arrest of the sponsor of the criminal activity of those arrested (i.e. the incumbent chairperson of Ekiti East Local Government, Mrs Alaba Anthonia Omonusi).

Speaking on behalf of the REC, Public Relations Officer of the commission, Mr. Taiwo Gbadegesin assured that the case would not be swept under the carpet. He disclosed that the arrest of the seven officials was at the instance of the commission.

The protesters also visited the State Security Service (SSS) office where a copy of the protest letter was submitted to the State Director, after which they moved to the Headquarter of the State police command.

Gboyega Akinola, Bunmi Ojo and other leaders of the protesters were still with the State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Olayinka Balogun as at the time of filing this report.