Abuja and Ado-Ekiti — The Ekiti State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the national leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have denied the allegations that the two parties were involved in vote-buying in the Ekiti State governorship election.
Also a coalition of local and international election observers accredited to monitor last Saturday's governorship poll in Ekiti State yesterday discredited the poll with their reports, insisting that the election that produced APC's Kayode Fayemi as governor-elect, fell short of global best practices and electoral standards
But in a swift response, Fayemi has disagreed with the observers, made up of representatives from over 50 domestic organisations, human rights groups and international election observing bodies, some of which are the Centre for Credible Leadership and Citizens Awareness (Nigeria), Justice and Equity Organisation, (Nigeria), International Republican Institute (USA), and Patriotic Women Foundation, (Abuja) as well as the other bodies from the African Unions, among others.
In spite of the denial by the two major political parties, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent an open letter to the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, urging him to investigate allegations of vote buying by both the APC and the PDP during the Ekiti State governorship election, and to collaborate with the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in any such investigation, or face legal action.
The organisation also urged INEC to "prosecute anyone suspected to be involved or complicit in the alleged vote-buying, if there is relevant and sufficient admissible evidence of electoral bribery and abuse of the electoral and democratic process against them."
This is coming as the members of the Ekiti State House of Assembly have rejected the result of the governorship election as announced by the INEC.
The state chapter of the APC said yesterday that vote-buying should be discouraged for democracy to grow in the country.
The party expressed appreciation to the Ekiti voters over the peaceful conduct of the last weekend's governorship election that led to the victory of the APC's candidate, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, as the governor-elect.
The party also urged media houses to be fair in hearing all the parties involved in the election, saying that selective treatment of issues is a denial of fair hearing for correct public judgment.
A statement by the party's Publicity Secretary, Taiwo Olatunbosun, denied the charge that APC was engaged in vote-buying during the election, explaining that the party did not join in the despicable act of vote-buying through inducement to con the people of Ekiti by Governor Ayodele Fayose and PDP candidate, Prof Olusola Eleka.
"Fayose and Eleka are known for throwing tokens at our people from the resources of the state, using the instrument of government. They believe that is what their loyalty is worth and they never had any
plan to lift them beyond the poverty level.
"The return of Fayemi as governor of Ekiti State is a signal that God still answers the prayers of his people whenever they are under torture. The victory signals an end to poverty, squalor and oppressive tendencies of a mindless government who shamelessly refused to pay workers their dues, yet could afford to credit the accounts of voters and some sections of workers with amounts ranging from N3,000 to as much as N100,000 just to curry their voting favours," he said.
Also reacting to the allegation of vote-buying, the PDP said no circumstance would push it to descend to vote- buying in any election, no matter the machination of the APC..
In a statement issued by the National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, the party said it never bought any vote in the July 14, 2018 governorship election in Ekiti State like the APC did, saying the leadership of the party would never allow such practice under any guise.
"Consequently, members of the APC who are going about media houses and claiming that their party bought votes in response to some parties that engaged in such practice are certainly not responding to the PDP," the party said.
PDP rather said it spent its resources and energy on a democratic campaign that preceded the Ekiti election and never set up kiosks for the "see and buy" of votes as the APC unabashedly did.
However, the local and international observers who praised the INEC for proper conduct of the poll in line with global and constitutional dictates and standards, however, 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.
But dispelling the position canvassed by the coalition, Fayemi dismissed the report of the observer groups as a product of fabrication of the Ekiti State Government to discredit the election that returned him as winner.
A statement by Wole Olujobi of Fayemi Media Office, dismissed the report as a product of fraud masterminded by Ekiti State Government to discredit the election in which Deputy Governor, Olusola Eleka lost to the candidate of the opposition, Fayemi.
But addressing newsmen on behalf of the domestic observers, Gabriel Nwambu of the Centre for Credible Leadership and Citizens Awareness,
Abuja, said: "Modern democracy guarantees freedom of electorate to determine who to vote; anything against this is an usurp. 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".
However, SERAP has however, requested Yakubu to "take steps within 14 days of the receipt or publication of this letter, failing which SERAP will institute legal proceedings to compel you and INEC to discharge your constitutional and statutory responsibilities in the public interest."
In the letter dated July 17, 2018 and signed by SERAP's Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, the organisation said it is the responsibility of INEC as an independent body to take meaningful steps and action to minimise electoral bribery by politicians, ensure political equality and prevent unfair electoral competition.
Meanwhile, the Ekiti State House of Assembly has rejected the result of the governorship election and adjourned till October 8, 2018.
Speaking at the House plenary in Ado-Ekiti, the state capital, yesterday, the Leader of Business, Hon. Akinyele Olatunji, described the process leading to the election and the final result as unfortunate.