Intriguing circumstances surrounded the March 18 governor’s election in Ogun State, which left a lot of unsolved issues in its aftermath.
Governor Dapo Abiodun received 276,298 votes, according to the Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) returning officer Kayode Adebowale, who announced in front of Olaniyi Ijalaye, the state’s REC.
Ladi Adebutu, a candidate for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), came in second with 262,383 votes, while Biyi Otegbeye, a candidate for the Africa Democratic Congress (ADC), received 94,754 votes.
In an election with ten other candidates, the three were the leading competitors.
As a result, the governor won reelection by a narrow margin of 13,915 votes over Mr. Adebutu of the PDP.
Since then, the governor and the APC, the party he leads, have been celebrating their triumph in a violent election.
vote theft and violence
The APC, however, has been cautioned by the opposition not to celebrate too soon because the party and its candidate will have a long day in court.
During the election, numerous incidents of violence, ballot box theft, and vote buying were documented in the state’s largest cities.
Gunshots were fired by political thugs, some of whom were disguised, in an attempt to obstruct voting at polling places.
Yet, it appeared that the attacks were planned to hit particular voting locations.
The governor and Mr. Adebutu’s hometown, Iperu Remo in the Ikenne Local Government Area, was one of the worst impacted.
For instance, thugs stole two voting boxes from Polling Unit 05, Ward 03 in the town’s Ayegbami neighborhood.
On motorbikes, the thugs broke into the voting place and escorted voters out.
Security personnel, especially police officers at a nearby road crossroads, retaliated with a barrage of airgun fire. However, their involvement did not stop Alalade Babatunde, the unit’s Assistant Polling Officer (APO), from being physically assaulted.
Many would-be voters were forced to flee the polling place for safety due to the turmoil.
Thugs set electoral materials on fire in another polling place in Eleja, Sagamu, while INEC officials and voters fled for their lives.
An identical incident, where thugs destroyed the voting boxes, was reported in Itori-Odo, Abeokuta.
Similar incidents were reported among other cities in Idowa, Ijebu Igbo, Ijebu Ode, and Abeokuta.
Nonetheless, Ogun Central District was generally devoid of disruptions as they were concentrated in Ogun East Senatorial District.
A voter from Itori-Odo, who only went by the name Adewunmi, claimed that APC members were responsible for the violence.
Sesan Asenuga, a PDP chieftain, was reportedly attacked in Isara Remo, and Mrs. Makanjuola was also attacked in Sagamu.
Quadr Okewunmi, a resident of Abeokuta South, was shot next to his home after casting his ballot in the local government area’s Itori Odo town.
At Ward 13, Polling Unit 22, in Itori Odo, Abeokuta South Local Government Area, thugs also interfered with polling, leading media and election officials to flee.
Cross-party vote buying was also noted during the election.
A credit card was seen being given out to voters while voting was taking place as a means of avoiding capture by security personnel stationed to check for vote buying. In the state’s Ogun Central and East senatorial districts, the card was more obvious.
After choosing a certain political party, the card would be used to redeem an N10,000 pledge made to the voter, according to a voter named Moruf Adelaja, who spoke with our reporter.
Mr. Adelaja declined to name the organization that printed the card.
Yet a voter who only went by the name Kudirat claimed the card belonged to the PDP. Idayat Aina, however, a different voter, maintained that she received a second card with N10,000 placed onto it from an APC leader, who she refused to name.
Vote margin discussion
Some political observers in the state claimed that trying to have the election results overturned in court would be a fruitless endeavor because it is the typical course taken by losers in Nigerian elections.
Strangely, the electoral arbiter declined to say how many ballots were invalidated in total. The opposition political groups said that this was done to prevent the election from being ruled inconclusive because Mr. Abiodun’s margin of victory was purportedly smaller than the total number of invalid votes.
According to the Electoral Act, this should prevent a winner from being declared until elections are held again in the locations where votes were invalidated.
In response to such assertion, demonstrators in the state’s capital called for a new election to be held in the regions where the last one was canceled.
Only 72 hours after the election, Mr. Adebutu, the PDP candidate, marched to the state INEC headquarters with a sizable group of his supporters. The candidate sent a letter of protest to the election official during the protest.
Following this demonstration, 11 of the 13 participating political parties in the election disputed the results and demanded new elections be held in the polling places where the election was canceled.
The parties are the Labour Party (LP), Social Democratic Party (SDP), New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), Action Alliance (AA), Accord Party (AP), Allied Peoples Movement (APM), Because Of Our Future (BOOT party), Action Democratic Party (ADP), and African Action Congress (AAC), All Peoples Party (APP) and National Rescue Movement (NRM).
The parties stated at a news conference that it was “clear” that INEC had “stuck logic in the head” by declaring a winner in an election when the amount of invalid ballots had tripled the lead between the declared winner and their nearest challenger.
Olaposi Oginni, the state’s NNPP chairman, is the conference’s organizer. The vice chancellor of the University of Ibadan, Prof. Kayode Adebowale, must be detained right away and charged with this atrocious crime against our democracy, the Ogun Coalition of Registered Political Parties demanded in a statement.
According to Mr. Oginni, the election “was hugely rigged with tons of irregularities, including ballot box snatching in over 100 polling units, voter suppression with thugs working under the guise of security forces, ballot snuffing, and other illegalities.”
The winning APC, however, has denied the accusations.