Still hurting from the defeat it suffered at the Ekiti governorship poll last Saturday, the All Progressives Congress (APC) at its National Working Committee (NWC) meeting in Abuja, Thursday, resolved to go to court to challenge the outcome of the election which it said was marred by several constitutional breaches through harassment and intimidation of citizens by security forces.
The latest resolve runs counter to the party’s earlier position to respect whatever the defeated Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, decides concerning the outcome of the election.
Fayemi had, soon after the results were declared, conceded victory to Mr. Ayo Fayose of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and congratulated him. The duo have also held preliminary meeting on how to set up a transition committee.
Former Governor Fayose had polled 203,090 of the votes cast in the governorship election, to defeat the incumbent Governor Fayemi of APC who scored 120,433 votes.
Just as the meeting of the NWC of APC was going on, a group of women under the aegis of New Era Coalition of Nigeria (NECN) came protesting to the new national leadership to, as a matter of urgency, look into what they termed as some 'fraudulent imposition' at the convention, which has robbed their candidate, Hajia Zuwaira Sani Bakori, the chance of emerging as the Deputy National Organising Secretary.
Although the APC praised Governor Fayemi for being a true democrat by congratulating his opponent and not resorting to a do-or-die battle, the party said the processes of the election before, during and after voting were not entirely free and fair.
In a communique issued after the inaugural meeting of its NWC, the party noted that while voting on election day might not have been characterised by the usual brigandage and violence, the entire process was everything but free and fair.
"Therefore, in order to prevent a recurrence of what happened in Ekiti, especially the militarisation of the process, the harassment and intimidation of citizens, especially those in opposition, my party has decided to challenge in court some of these constitutional breaches and will also encourage our leaders and supporters, who were arrested, harassed and intimidated to seek the enforcement of their constitutionally-guaranteed fundamental rights that were recklessly abridged by the security agencies", it said.
The communique read out to journalists at the party's national secretariat in Abuja by APC's National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Muhammed, said events of the voting day itself might have led many to believe that the election was free and fair, while the same could not be said of the events before, during and after the election.
The party said its decision to act is not only to ensure that irresponsible and unconstitutional acts are not repeated in subsequent elections, especially that of Osun in August and next year's general election.
Giving reasons for faulting the conduct of the election, APC alleged that thousands of armed troops, police, state security and civil defence personnel deployed in Ekiti resulted in a shutdown of the state.
It also alleged that on the eve of the election and on election day, without any reason, security personnel arrested APC leaders and supporters across Ekiti, ferrying them far away from where they could vote or monitor the conduct of the election.
"In fact, the compromise by the security operatives became more obvious when a so-called Special Task Force comprising Military, Police, SSS and NDLEA officers were summoned to a meeting on Friday afternoon – a day before the election, near the Tantaliser fast food eatery at Ado-Ekiti.
"In the presence of AIG Bala Nasarawa, Mrs Florence Ikhanone (National Director of SSS) and Brig.-Gen. Momoh, who was the head of the military to the election, Mr. Ayo Fayose's Chief Security Officer, Kayode Adeoye, and Chris Uba addressed the curiously-named Special Task Force which included 67 SSS operatives, 30 soldiers, 30 NDLEA operatives and 70 mobile policemen.
"Adeoye and Uba reminded the officers of the Special Task Force of their duty to President Goodluck Jonathan, who was identified as their benefactor, and how the officers must ensure that their benefactor wins the election.
"This was the same team that went round the state from Friday evening and throughout the duration of the election picking leaders of the APC from across the state in specially-designated black buses with Presidency plate numbers," it said.
According to APC, the case of the Campaign Manager of Governor Fayemi, Mr. Bimbo Daramola, was particularly traumatic and saddening because his fiancee and aged father were harassed by armed soldiers who invaded his country home in the middle of the night with guns being pointed at them as if they were common criminals.
It said the campaign manager himself, an honourable member of the House of Representatives, was hounded into an unknown place by soldiers, all because of an election.
While defending the party's position, the former interim National Chairman of the APC, Chief Bisi Akande, said contrary to widely held perception that the Ekiti governorship was without blemish, the intimidation meted out to party members using security forces did much to flaw the exercise.
Speaking to journalists yesterday at the APC headquarters in Abuja, Akande said the massive deployment of soldiers, police and the SSS for last Saturday's election amounted to shutting down the state which is unknown to our constitution.
In the same vein, Secretary to the Edo State Government (SSG), Professor Julius Ihonvbere, has blamed the defeat suffered by APC in the last Saturday governorship election in Ekiti State on a tactical error, stressing that the said victory of the PDP was enhanced by military intimidation.
"The Ekiti election was successful because of the amount of intimidation and domination by the security forces. When you prevented APC governors from going there for a rally, what are you telling the people?”, he said.
Ihonvbere, who said this while fielding questions from journalists in Benin City yesterday, noted that the candidate of the APC, Kayode Fayemi, had good antecedents, both in governance and academics, which made him stand out of the crowd.
He said the election went the way of the PDP because of the amount of domination and intimidation by security forces, which was an indication that the presidency meant business.
Describing the statement by some analysts that Governor Fayemi lost because he did not extend his campaign to local restaurants and bars as “politically infantile analysis”. He said: “You can have a government that is responsive and responsible to the masses. But you definitely cannot reduce governance to eating Akara and drinking beer and ending up in 'bukas'. That is not what governors are supposed to do. It is not done anywhere on earth.
“Even those who preach democracy to us don’t have their governors behave that way. So, all those people pontificating on TV that he lost because he does not go to drink beer or ride Okada are politically infantile analyses. They do not reflect the truth.
“But we in APC have gone to the drawing board to analyse the situation so that we can draw lessons from it and prevent it from occurring again.
“In politics, you win, you lose; after all, PDP lost many states to APC. So, we are not crying, gnashing teeth or breaking our heads over it.”
He dismissed the claim that the Ekiti election was a clear example of a free and fair election, noting that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had more to prove in the 2015 general election.
According to him, the success of the Ekiti governorship election should not be used to measure the 2015 general election.
He said while the people appreciate improvement in the country's electoral body when compared with previous elections, INEC must be reminded that Ekiti is just one of the states in the country.
According to him, "I don't think the same success will be replicated or recorded in the conduct of the 2015 general election.
"Ekiti is just one state and one of the smallest states in the country with about 2.5 million people, so you can bring in about 15,000 police with all other security agencies but can they try it in all the 36 states of the federation?
Meanwhile, a protesting group, NECN, has appealed to the new national leadership of APC to as a matter of urgency look into what it described as 'fraudulent imposition' at the convention.
In a statement signed by the coordinator of the group, Musa Ahmad Abdulkareem, and made available to THISDAY, it alleged that the case of Hajia Bakori, "who is said to have been brazenly robbed of her clear chance of emerging the Deputy National Organising Secretary" should be revisited.
The group said: "It has since been confirmed that, Alhaji Suleiman Othman has not met the stipulated guidelines, as he was said to be out of the country and never made the obligatory screening because his attempt to be screened by proxy was turned down by the screening committee.
"On the contrary, Zawaira Sani Bakori entered the contest eligibly and got screened, including attracting enormous votes from the delegates during the convention."
The group therefore urged the party's NEC to immediately declare Hajia Bakori as the authentic Deputy National Organising Secretary.
PDP Tackles APC
But in its usual brickbat relationship with the APC, the PDP has descended heavily on the national leadership of the APC for not accepting the processes and outcome of the last Saturday's Ekiti governorship election which was won by Fayose, the PDP candidate.
PDP National Publicity Secretary, Olisa Metuh, said the position of the APC national leadership over an election widely accepted as one of the freest, fairest and most credible elections in Nigeria, and in which their candidate, Governor Fayemi, had also conceded defeat, demonstrates their "preference for anarchy and blind homage to nihilism and destruction of the democratic order”.
“The APC has once again confirmed that it is nothing but a chaotic organisation, totally averse to democracy and orderliness. It has shown that it is a party of desperate, frustrated and violent individuals promoting a Janjaweed ideology.
“This is a party that is fully aware that it was trounced in all the local governments of the state and even lost in the polling units and wards of its campaign Director-General and that of its Deputy National Chairman, yet it is bent at fomenting trouble to disrupt the peace in Ekiti State apparently out of frustration that it did not get the chance to rig the polls.
“However we wish to alert of an orchestrated plot by the APC to now use the instruments of wild allegations and spurious claims to set the stage to unleash mayhem on Ekiti State using imported armed thugs. We therefore urge Nigerians to note this and hold the APC responsible should there be any breakdown of law and order in Ekiti State,” the party said.
Aregbesola Says Fayose is Intoxicated by Accidental Victory
The animosity between the two rival parties yesterday got even deeper, when Governor of Osun State, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola, described the outburst of the Ekiti State Governor-elect, Fayose, as an 'over-reaching euphoria of a coincidental victory.'
Fayose had said yesterday that Aregbesola is 'dangerous to Nigeria's democracy' for allegedly calling on his (APC) supporters to challenge security agents during elections.
Aregbesola, in a statement by the Director, Bureau of Communications and Strategy, Office of the Governor, Mr. Semiu Okanlawon, said Fayose is only whipping a dead horse by referring to a media report which had been refuted with the retraction published by the same newspaper that published it.
A newspaper had last week published a news item claiming that Aregbesola asked his supporters to dare security agents during elections.
Okanlawon disclosed that the misrepresentation of what the governor said had been refuted the following day, in a well-explained response to the newspaper.
He said Fayose, in an over-joyous celebration of a victory, which subtly came through a yet-to-be ascertained mystery, need to demonstrate that his victory at the poll on June 21 is not a fluke.
The statement said: "We think that after his so-called victory, Fayose should be busy with and worry more on how his government hopes to contend with sustaining and surpassing the huge achievements recorded by the Kayode Fayemi administration before the people of Ekiti get impatient with him.
"But for the lopsided democracy entrenched in this part of the world, individuals like this, who have no business in front of a Government House, would have today through a sleight of hand find themselves in position of responsibility, which they once had and frittered away.
"Whatever transpired during that election may be hidden today. Nothing can be hidden permanently from the people.
"But it is germane to say that what happened in Ekiti has no bearing or effect on Osun. Here, we are different; the terrain is different; so are the people and politics.
"We are not in anyway perturbed by the phyrric victory in Ekiti. Ekiti is Ekiti; Osun is Osun. The two are not the same neither are they comparable.
"Therefore the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Ayodele Fayose and their ilk should continue to dwell in their illusory world of 'as it is in Ekiti, so shall it be in Osun."
Okanlawon reiterated that the governor only called on the police to do their job of protecting rather than intimidating the people, who want to exercise their civic duties.
He stated that while the people are exercising their civic responsibilities including voting, soldiers and policemen and men of other security agencies have the constitutional right to protect and not to bully or cow them into submitting to the whims and caprice of some selfish politicians.