The All Progressives Congress in Ondo State on Monday denied that one of its leaders and governorship aspirant, Tunji Ariyomo, induced voters with money during the voting exercise on Saturday.
The party in a statement, signed by its publicity director, Steve Otaloro, said the allegation that Mr. Ariyomo shared money in Ward 2 in Akure South Local Government Area was concocted.
A footage circulated on the Internet by Ondo television, a media organisation owned by the PDP-led government in the state, showed some persons accusing Mr. Ariyomo of campaigning at the polling unit.
A man who led the protest, urged him to leave the polling unit, saying his action was “bad, illegal and unconstitutional,” as security men tried to calm the situation.
The footage however did not show him campaigning or distributing money.
“As a party, we want it on record that this is a concocted mischief designed originally by the PDP to upset the momentum carried by the APC unto the election day in Akure South LGA by undermining the credibility of one of our frontline leaders in the local government,” APC said.
“We are particularly disappointed that some media houses could lend themselves to propagating such outright malicious fabrication even when the PDP’s noisome accuser in the video never made such claim.
“Everybody in Akure is familiar with the popularity of Engr. Ariyomo among the local folks and the feverish support given to him by the youth.
“This was what was termed campaigning by the accuser when the chant of IMOLE rented the air upon the arrival of Ariyomo in his ward on that day.”
The statement noted that it was pure mischief for any person to accuse Mr. Ariyomo, an avowed advocate of cashless politics, of sharing money for votes.
“We have identified the PDP-led state government and the PDP spokesman, Dayo Adeyeye, as the sources of this reckless unsubstantiated accusation,” the statement further said.
“The party’s objective was to derail the election of Saturday where the people of Ondo State freely, fairly and peacefully expressed their preferences.
“Their smear campaign is evident demonstration of desperation and confusion by minds that faced imminent electoral defeat which has been reflected in the fact that the PDP led government in Ondo State via its ondoTV would later graduate this accusation from canvassing for votes to sharing of money.”
The party challenged the PDP-led state government, their party and agents to make public the video where Mr. Ariyomo was sharing money, attempting to share money or canvass for votes.
Mr. Ariyomo, who later to spoke to PREMIUM TIMES correspondent in Akure, said he could not be advocating a democratic process devoid of money politics and at the same time be sharing money to woo voters.
“During campaigns, I refuse to give money to those who make demands for it, because I do not believe in the practice of doling out money to win votes,” he said.
“Initially, the allegation was that I was campaigning during voting, but later they changed it.
“What happened was that when I arrived the venue, a lot of the people were shouting, Imole, which is the name I am popularly known with, I had to urge them to calm down to preserve the serenity of the voting environment.”
But the PDP insisted that Mr. Ariyomo carried out the act of distributing money along with others.
“Yes, he did it,” the publicity director of the party, Ayo Fadaka, told PREMIUM TIMES on Monday on the telephone.
“He was not the only one doing it, there were others who were doing it as well.”
The candidate of the Alliance for Democracy, Olusola Oke, had earlier lamented the use of money to induce voters during the election.
Mr. Oke, while congratulating Rotimi Akeredolu, the winner of the election, noted that the monetization of the electoral process by “the ruling parties,” was detrimental to democratic principles and belies the anticorruption campaign of the present administration.