A coalition of observers of the July 14 Ekiti governorship election, Tuesday, declared that the conduct of the election, which gave victory to the All Progressives Congress candidate, Kayode Fayemi, fell short of global best practices and electoral standards.
But Mr Fayemi has come out strong against the assessment of the observers, saying it was fabricated and sponsored by the Ekiti State Government led by Governor Ayodele Fayose.
Mr Fayose’s preferred candidate, Olusola Eleka, came second in the election, winning four local governments to Mr Fayemi’s 12.
The observers, representing over 50 domestic organisations, rights groups and international bodies, however, lauded the Independent National Electoral Commission for doing its best to conduct the election according to the standard rules guiding elections worldwide.
Some of the organisations include the Centre for Credible Leadership and Citizens Awareness (Nigeria), Justice and Equity Organisation (Nigeria), International Republican Institute (USA), Patriotic Women Foundation, (Abuja) as well as the other bodies from the African Union.
The groups faulted the deployment of 30,000 security agents insisting that such development and conduct of some of the security operatives largely marred the electoral process.
Addressing journalists in Ado Ekiti on Tuesday on behalf of the domestic observers, Gabriel
Nwambu of the Centre for Credible Leadership and Citizens Awareness, Abuja, also said there was massive vote buying during the election, a situation that, he said, spelt doom for the country ahead of 2019 general elections.
“Modern democracy guarantees freedom of electorate to determine who to vote, anything against this is an usurp,” he said.
“Polls also should comply with globally accepted standards hence observers’ job is to access the level of compliance of electoral umpire to constitutional regulations which serve as a way to give direction for future exercise.
“Reports of observers remain a potential tool for election tribunals and other monitoring and relevant bodies for post election activities. 51 reputable domestic observer groups were on ground in all the 177 wards, 16 Local Government Areas and all the polling units in the
state to monitor the poll. Ekiti has a record of being a serial politically volatile state in Nigeria and this became manifest before during and after the poll.
“On July 14, domestic observers witnessed large turnout of the electorate from 6:30 am, earlier than the stipulated time of 8:am.
“The exercise witnessed a high level of unprecedented electoral related challenges and such abuse will remain contentious until justice prevails, especially in the areas of cash inducement, arrests of political stalwarts by security agents and snatching of electoral materials by political thugs among other abuses.”
Mr Fayemi has however dispelled the claims of the coalition, saying it was the fabrication of the Ekiti State Government to discredit the July 14, 2018 election that returned him as the winner.
A statement by the Director of Media and Publicity of the Fayemi Campaign Council, Wole Olujobi, dismissed the report as a product of fraud masterminded by the Ekiti State Government to discredit the election.
“We have noted the fraud contained in the so-called observers group report and we condemn the desperation that stokes that sponsored report to diminish the standard of the Saturday election, which a more credible observer group, Transition Monitoring Group (TMG), had earlier hailed as credible poll, applauding INEC, security and voters for conducting themselves in acceptable manner to produce credible election,” the statement said.
“We were privy to the earlier press conference where the observer groups were to give a fair assessment of the entire electoral process, but the process was hijacked by the state government, which locked a motley crowd of supporters in a room in the Government House where media houses under retainership of the state government were the only ones present to report the proceedings of the so-called press conference.
“In the so-called press conference, only two television stations under retainership of Ekiti Government and a reporter of a Lagos-based publication were present.
“The report that purportedly emerged as scripted in the so-called press conference was forwarded to other media houses, which innocently resorted to processing the story for wider broadcast and publication to mislead the Nigerian public as authentic observers group’s report on the election.”