The governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ekiti State, Mr. Biodun Oyebanji, has been declared the winner of Saturday’s governorship poll after sweeping 15 out of the 16 local government areas (LGAs) in the state.
The governorship election, which was held under a calm and peaceful atmosphere, also recorded a large turnout of voters.
The poll was however characterised by vote-buying in all the 16 LGAs in the state, leading to the intervention of the operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), who arrested some vote-buyers.
According to the results announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Oyebanji scored 187,057 votes to defeat his main challenger and governorship candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Mr. Segun Oni, who came a distant second with 82,211 votes, while the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr Bisi Kolawole garnered 67,457 votes to clinch the third position.
However, while the APC and PDP won in 15 and one local government area, respectively, the SDP did not win any LGA.
Sixteen political parties participated in the election.
According to the results announced by the Returning Officer, Prof. Oyebode Adebowale, APC won in Ado-Ekiti, Ikere, Emure, Ijero, Ilejemeje, Ekiti South West, Ekiti West, Ekiti East, Moba, Oye, Irepodun/Ifelodun, Ise/Orun, Aiyekire/Gbonyin, Ido-Osi, and Ikole LGAs.
While Irepodun/Ifelodun is the LGA of former governor Ayo Fayose, who was the main backer of the PDP candidate, Ido-Osi is the LGA of the governorship candidate of SDP, Oni.
Ikole is the LGA of Kemi Elebute-Halle, the candidate of the Action Democratic Party (ADP).
The candidate of the PDP, Kolawole, was announced the winner in Efon Alaye LGA, while Oni of the SDP did not win a single LGA.
The winner of the governorship election, Oyebanji, is a former Secretary to the State Government (SSG), to Governor Kayode Fayemi.
EFCC Arrests Vote Buyers, Election Calm, Peaceful
Following the widespread vote-buying, which characterised the governorship election, the operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) arrested persons suspected to be engaged in vote-buying in the poll.
Some of the suspects were paraded at the Oke Ori Omi Area Division of the Nigeria Police Force.
The suspects were reported to have been caught with bundles of cash allegedly used for vote-buying.
Some other persons were also arrested at a private residence with a book containing details of voters of a certain voting area.
Though the election was said to be calm and peaceful, sponsored thugs had a field day destroying ballot boxes in the stronghold of opposition parties in Ise Ekiti and Ilawe Ekiti Polling Units.
Ballot boxes in Ilasa, Polling Unit 001 in Ekiti East, another stronghold of the opposition party, were destroyed by sponsored thugs.
The Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room (Situation Room), which observed the election, said in a statement that it received reports of widespread vote-buying by political party agents across the 16 LGAs in the state.
“In many instances, voters were induced with money ranging from N4,500 to N10,000 by asking them to flag completed ballot papers as proof of voting in a specified manner in what they term ‘See and Buy’. Situation Room strongly condemns this blatant violation of the electoral law,” said the statement.
Situation Room noted that the election was generally peaceful, with voters civilly conducting themselves in most of the polling units.
It, however, observed that the redistribution of voters done by INEC still did not take care of the issue of a huge population of voters in some polling units as many new polling units had abysmally low numbers while older polling units remain overcrowded.
“There were also polling units sited in private residences such as PU006 Omiragunsin’s House, Okemesi Ward 1, Ekiti West LGA and PU003 in front of Ezekiel’s House Iroro/Ita Alafia Iroro Imegun, Ward 3 Araromi Omuo, Ekiti East LGA,” the statement said.
Situation Room, which commended the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), noted the early arrival of poll officials and election materials in 93 per cent of the polling units observed.
According to the group, polls commenced before 9 a.m. in at least 88 per cent of the locations, which it described as an improvement of both the Anambra State Governorship Election 2021 and FCT Area Councils Elections 2022.
Situation Room observed that the Bi-Modal Verification Accreditation System (BVAS) was functional in at least 76 per cent of the voting locations.
“However, there have been many reports of delays and malfunctioning BVAS machines in some voting units especially those with many registered voters. Examples of the locations where the machines malfunctioned are PU 002 Igbaletere by Mechanic Workshop, Ward 6 Ado Okeyinmi, Ado-Ekiti LGA where the Machine was going on and off intermittently, PU 007 LA Primary School Oke Afin, Otun Ward III and PU018 Igogo Ward II both in Moba LGA where the BVAS failed, and PU 014, Ward I Okemesi, Ekiti West LGA, amongst others. Furthermore, INEC’s distribution of the BVAS devices was not proportionate to the population of registered voters by polling unit,” the statement added.
Meanwhile, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked INEC to prosecute all those involved in vote-buying in the governorship election.
SERAP in a short tweet last night said the prosecution must not end with those caught in the act but must be extended to the politicians who funded their election malpractice.
Registered voters: 989,224