Rival parties clash as Ondo elects governor

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Ahead of the governorship election in Ondo State today, there were violent clashes among rival political party supporters in Akure and Owo on Thursday night and Friday.

   This is happening as a total of 1,280,580 voters with Permanent Voter Cards are preparing to choose the next governor of the state among the 28 contestants in today’s governorship election.

The Independent National Electoral Commission said that  1,659,186 voters were registered for the election but 378,606 persons did not turn up to collect their PVCs.

Among the major contestants are Mr. Eyitayo Jegede of the Peoples Democratic Party; Chief Rotimi Akeredolu of the All Progressives Congress; Dr. Olu Agunloye of the Social Democratic Party and Olusola Oke of the Alliance for Democracy.

Others include the candidate of the Accord Party, Mr. Oladare Amuda; Mr. Yinka Orokoto of the Action Alliance; the candidate of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria, Chief Adetuwo Ogunjumelo; the candidate of the Citizens Popular Party, Mr. Peter Fasua; the candidate of the Labour Party, Adeuti Stephen; and the candidate of the Peoples Party of Nigeria, Mrs. Temidola Olagbegi.

Jegede’s name was included in the candidates’ list after the Court of Appeal compelled INEC to recognise him as the PDP candidate in the election instead of Jimoh Ibrahim.

On Friday, the governorship candidate of the New Nigeria People’s Party, Dr. Oluwadare Bada, withdrew from the race.

Director of Media, Bada’s Campaign Committee, Mr. Abiodun Oluwarotimi, confirmed the NNPP candidate’s withdrawal in a statement in Akure.

He cited pressure from his primary constituency as the reason for Bada’s action while calling on his supporters and polling agents to withdraw from further participation in the election. A source close to Bada’s camp, however, said that his withdrawal from the contest was part of a move to support Oke.

 Violence in Owo

In Owo, one person was reportedly killed during a clash between the supporters of the APC and the PDP.

Properties worth millions of naira were reportedly destroyed in the clash while several people also sustained injuries.

The deceased was simply identified as an APC chieftain in the area, named Arogun. According to an eyewitness account, the clash occurred following Jegede’s visit to Owo for a campaign.  There were also clashes in Iselu and Ehinogbe on Thursday.

The Public Relations Officer, Ondo State Police Command, Mr. Femi Joseph, told one of our correspondents that he had not been officially briefed about the incidents.

He said, “I don’t have the facts yet; I will let you know if I get the facts.”

For the election, the Federal Government said 26,000 policemen and 15,000 personnel from the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps had been deployed in the state to maintain law and order along with some army officers.

The Deputy Commandant of Operations, NSCDC, Mr. Kelechi Madu, said 25 sniffer dogs would be deployed in various strategic places for the poll.

Madu said the agency had mobilised commandants from Osun, Oyo, Ekiti, Ogun and Edo states for the poll.

Three helicopters and 20 gunboats were also deployed in riverine areas of the state to be used for monitoring the election.

Meanwhile, the police on Friday announced that it would enforce restriction of movement between 11.59pm on Friday and 8.00pm on Saturday.

Jimoh Ibrahim’s vehicles, offices destroyed

Despite not taking part in the race, Ibrahim’s campaign vehicles, billboards and offices were destroyed in Owo, Ondo and some other parts of the state on Thursday night.

Ibrahim was formerly the governorship candidate of the PDP in the state before the Court of Appeal ordered INEC to substitute his name for Jegede’s.

On Friday, Ibrahim, who spoke through the Director-General, Jimoh Ibrahim Campaign Organisation, Mr. Olabisi Johnson, condemned the attacks. He said some sponsored hoodlums attacked Ibrahim’s campaign office and damaged vehicles in the Ondo-West Local Government Area of the state.

Addressing journalists on the violent clashes on Friday, a factional Organising Secretary of the PDP, Patrick Olabisi, claimed that those who perpetrated the violence in Akure and Ondo were Jegede’s supporters.

 He said, “The suspected thugs were heavily armed and they demolished all Ibrahim’s billboards in the town. They also destroyed the campaign office and vehicles.”

He explained that the timely intervention of policemen forestalled further breakdown of law and restored peace to Ondo.

 Johnson, who condemned the attacks, described the destruction of properties as uncalled for.

But in a swift reaction, the Chairman, PDP in Ondo-West Local Government Area, Mr. Kayode Ijilegan, dismissed the claim that the hoodlums were Jegede’s supporters.

Ijilegan, who is loyal to the Ahmed Makarfi-led faction of the party, said, “Our supporters were not responsible for the alleged destruction of the party’s campaign office. The claim that they are Jegede’s supporters is not also true.  Our members and loyalists are law-abiding and will never jeopardise the existing peace in the state.”

Speaking with one of our correspondents, a factional chairman of the party in the state, Biyi Poroye, appealed to supporters of his faction not to take the law into their hands. He said there was nothing to gain from perpetrating violence.

He said, “We want to appeal to people not to attack anybody or insult anybody but to mind their businesses and believe ultimately in the Almighty God because it is God that gives power.”

PUNCH


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