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COUNCIL POLL: PARTY URGES FG TO WITHHOLD LAGOS FUNDS

By NBF News
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The crisis trailing last Saturday's Lagos council poll deepened yesterday when the African Renaissance Party (ARP) appealed to the Federal Government to withhold the state's monthly allocation. The call was in protest against the conduct and result of the election, which had been controversial, even as the Peoples Democratic Party's (PDP) governorship candidate in the April 2011 elections, Dr. Ade Dosunmu, described the exercise as fraud.

PDP supporters began sit-in at the Agbado-Oke Odo Local Development Council Area (LCDA) secretariat since Monday in protest against the declaration of the State Independent Electoral Commission (LASIEC) that the ACN cleared the council poll. Another group is also kicking against the result in Ikoyi LCDA.

National Publicity Secretary of the ACN, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, accused the PDP-led Federal Government of fueling the crisis.

In calling for the withholding of the funds, ARP said they should not be released to the Lagos State Government until all the cases had been exhausted at the election tribunal.

The party, in a statement by its chairman, Chief Udoka Udeogaranya, said, 'this has become imperative as a way to forestall any form of breakdown of law and order, while the withholding of Lagos State local government council funds certainly will put all parties to the election at peace.

'ARP would like to restate that there are no pros to a one-party government, as one-party government remains a government of dictatorship with full attributes of dictatorial diseases that consume democracy and democratic rights of the people.

'As you may have witnessed, despite the unprecedented massive protest in the nomination process of the Lagos State ruling party, ACN, leading to the October 22, 2011 local council elections, the party went on as though nothing had happened and the very same act of imposition, manipulation, dictatorship and high-handedness appears to be the Lagos State government code of conduct.

'But, it is left to the Federal Government to take measures that can call the state to order and serve as a reminder that Lagos State is still part and parcel of a free Nigeria, where subversion of people's will, through the manipulation of ballot papers or electoral processes should not be tolerated' it added.

However, as the PDP supporters continued their take-over of the Agbado-Oke-Odo LCDA yesterday, they vowed not to leave the premises until the electoral umpire revisits the results.

But the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Lateef Ibirogba, has advised any aggrieved party to seek legal redress at the tribunal, warning that precipitating chaos could never be in the interest of anybody.

Speaking with Daily Sun at the council's premises yesterday, a PDP election supervisor, Mrs. Lawrence Ede, suspected that 'refusal of the LASIEC to release the results four days after the election is an attempt to rig the election for the ACN.'

Also, a community leader, Elder Michael Adeseye (JP), said 'our demand is just the release of the results and nothing more,' assuring that 'we are not here to foment trouble because if we have decided to take law into our hands, there would be chaos.'

Sensing breakdown of law and order, the police had deployed 12 combat-ready armed policemen and one Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) vehicle marked NPF 3007, under the command of Agbado-Oke-odo Divissional Police Officer (DPO), Mr. Ayo Omolaoye, a Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP).

Reacting, Dosunmu said: ' The outcome of the local government election held in the 20 LGs and 37 LCDAs in Lagos State on October 22, 2011, organised by the Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission (LASIEC), was a monumental fraud of unimaginable proportion and it calls for serious concern.

'I am particularly touched by the fact that the electoral process was manipulated with impunity to the extent that LASIEC in connivance with ACN party chieftains deliberately suppressed the wishes of the people of Lagos as expressed in the pattern of voting, which clearly shows that no fewer than six (6) LGs were won by the PDP.

'Like June 12, this undignified collusion with undemocratic agents will remain in the memory of the people of Lagos and will be judged by posterity.

The ACN has, however, accused the PDP-led Federal Government of using the security agencies to subvert democracy in Lagos State, saying the Presidency must be held responsible for the pre-meditated crisis trailing the just-concluded local government election.

In a statement issued by its spokesman, Lai Mohammed, the party said it is obvious that the highest echelons of the Presidency and the police colluded to destabilize what was ordinarily a peaceful and well-organised election, just to serve the anti-democratic interests of the PDP in the state.

'Efforts were made to drag other security agencies into the mix in a desperate attempt to concoct an undeserved victory for a party that is almost non-existent in Lagos State, but the power of the people, exercised through their votes, won the day, to the chagrin of the anarchists, who are now crying blue murder,' it said.

ACN wondered why the police would give a special protection to someone who was not even a candidate in the elections, and the government would attempt to contract a mercenary group in the SSS outside the established authority of the agency just to give victory to a supposedly strong PDP candidate at all cost.

'The meddlesome action of the Presidency and the irresponsible and gross partisanship of the police, led to the situation in which hired PDP thugs occupied the Secretariat of the Ikoyi/Obalende council and declared victory for the PDP, even when the result was yet to be announced.

'The ignominious role of the security agencies emboldened the PDP thugs to chase away officials of LASIEC, who had to relocate to a safer place to collate and announce the result. The questions to be asked therefore are: What is the business of the Federal Government with local government elections?

ACN said the well-worn argument, that state police will be subjected to abuse, has been debunked by the role of the police in the Lagos State council poll.

In a swift reaction, Lagos State PDP accused the ACN of standing truth on its head over last weekend polls.

A statement by the party's National Vice Chairman (South West), Alhaji Tajudeen Oladipo, on Tuesday blasted the ACN for attempting to rationalise the subversion of the electoral wish of the people of Lagos State.

'The ACN can never change from its crooked ways. After carrying out an open act of electoral robbery it now turns round to blame the victim of the electoral heist of subversion. That tactic may have worked in the past but it cannot work now that ACN, in its greed, stole more than enough for the whole world to discover its true colour.

Meanwhile, a councillorship candidate of the PDP, yesterday accused LASIEC of 'selling' his victory to another candidate. Ahman Hussaini, who presented his Certificate of Return to Daily Sun and his supporters at the Marine Beach, Apapa, said that he won in Ward 'F' Apapa/ Iganmu Local Council Development Area. He mentioned one F. J. Ademola as the LASIEC Returning Officer present at the Anglican Primary School, Marine Beach, Apapa, where the results were collated.

He claimed that he polled 487 votes while his ACN counterpart, Hassan Galadima polled 430 votes. Ibrahim Ali, who contested on the platform of Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) got 181 votes.

Meanwhile, in order to avert a breakdown of law and order, the state police command in collaboration with the state security outfit, Rapid Response Squad, (RRS) have been drafted to crisis-prone areas.

which include: Ikorodu Road, Yaba, Agbado- Ijaiye.