The All Progressives Congress, APC, in Osun State has urged the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to clear the air over claims that two of its staff suspended for alleged electoral offences were working with the party.
In a statement by Kunle Oyatomi, APC’s Director of Publicity, Research and Strategy; Wednesday, the party called for the immediate prosecution of the two officials.
“It is unfortunate that the Peoples Democratic Party handlers have gone to town manipulating facts and placing their offences on their intended victim, the All Progressives Congress,” said Mr. Oyatomi.
“It is on record that on 8 August, 2014, vigilant youths arrested a truck-full of ballot papers to be used for the gubernatorial election on 9 August, 2014 and this was widely reported. The two persons in charge of the vehicle who were arrested were the Electoral Officer of Obokun Local Government in Osun State, Segun Eshilokun, and one Ismaila Taofik who were in possession of the electoral materials before INEC started the distribution of materials.
“The two culprits were handed over to the police and were taken to the State CID in Osogbo.
“Later, the two of them were released to one Oladipo Oladapo, a PDP chieftain from Ile-Ife without any charge brought against them. The order to release them was simply said to have come ‘from above’. It was pursuant to this that we wrote a petition to INEC for the matter to be duly investigated and the culprits brought to book,” Mr. Oyatomi added.
Several media reports on Tuesday had quoted an unnamed source close to Iyiola Omisore, the PDP’s candidate in the election, as saying that the INEC suspended the officials for selling ballot papers to the APC, manipulation of form EC8 series to favour the APC as well as voiding of PDP votes counted in favour of the APC.
But Mr. Oyatomi faulted the claims, adding that one of the suspended INEC officials, the Electoral Officer for Osogbo Local Government, was a card-carrying member of the PDP.
“The suspension was pursuant to our petition complaining of several malpractices against this individual who connived to manipulate the election in favour of PDP on the 9th of August, 2014 when he released only 64 identification tags to APC polling agents out of a total of 227 that was due to be given to our agents,” Mr. Oyatomi said.
“The implication was that APC agents were then denied access to their polling units until the accreditation process was over and, if not for prompt intervention by Ambassador Wali, the INEC National Commissioner in charge, APC agents would have been completely excluded from most polling units in Osogbo Local Government.
“Later in the day after the conclusion of the election, the same Electoral Officer for Osogbo Local Government refused to produce the Form EC8C customized for Osogbo Local Government and in which the collated results of the various Wards in Osogbo were to be recorded.
Upon our complaint, INEC issued this corrupt official another query and was given a one-hour ultimatum to produce the form. It was pursuant to this that he grudgingly produced the form and the results were recorded and announced,” he added.
Mr. Oyatomi described as “disconcerting” the attempt to accuse his party of colluding with the electoral officials.
“This is just a shoddy job to corrupt public opinion and augment their unfortunate election petition which is doomed to fail. It is certain that Segun Eshinlokun was working for PDP when he was nabbed by the ever-vigilant APC members who knew the fraudulent intention of the PDP ahead of the election,” Mr. Oyatomi said.
“It was also certain that the Electoral Officer for Osogbo Local Government knew that the people of Osogbo and its environs were going to give the largest votes to APC and hence his devilish determination to assist Iyiola Omisore to subvert popular democracy.
“We wish to place on record that it is most irresponsible journalism for a section in the media to gleefully give fillip to falsehood without proper investigation.
“The stories above were well known ahead of the unfortunate publications of 3 September, 2014 where the section of the media under reference joyously committed perfidy by making the victim the accused rather than joining hands to condemn an electoral evil which is destroying the society.
“We call on the relevant authorities in INEC to note that the acts perpetrated by the Electoral Officers of Obokun and Osogbo Local Governments are criminal in nature. The steps to be taken should not be limited to administrative discipline but the two culprits must be prosecuted.
“They were out to give INEC a bad name in order to satisfy their gusto for filthy lucre,” he added.