by Dare Lawal
The Independent National Electoral Commission in Ondo State organised a stakeholder meeting on Tuesday in light of the inconclusive Ilaje/Ese-Odo bye-election which held two weeks ago. INEC officials, political party representatives as well as security agencies were in attendance. That meeting which began by noon almost resulted in physical blows among the representatives of the parties present.
The most shocking part of the meeting was the accusation by the Ondo Resident Electoral Commissioner, Akin Orebiyi, that the Minister of State for Defence, Musiliu Obanikoro, had “his hands soiled” during the election.
According to Orebiyi, politicians were responsible for the crisis which took place during the Ilaje/Ese-Odo by-election, saying that it was their refusal to adhere strictly to the code of conduct of the election that resulted in the inconclusiveness of the election. He said that election did not take place in about 59 units, with over 28,000 registered voters.
He particularly fingered Obanikoro, saying, “We are aware of how Obanikoro even soiled his hands obstructing the electoral process. You can quote me anywhere. You can quote me anywhere…”
When PDP members present protested over the REC’s statement, he simply continued, telling them that “One of our officers was almost lynched by the people because they mistook him for Obanikoro. We know what happened and you can quote me anywhere.”
The attendant rowdiness saw members of the PDP and the Labour Party almost engaged in a fight as one trying to outdo the other in a shouting match.
As soon the dust settled, Orebiyi added, “Let the Minister of State for Defence defend himself let him defend himself.”
He noted that politicians did not only put the lives of the electoral officials at risk, but also forced them to collect money.
“One of them brought and showed us N8,000 he was forced to collect,” he said.
Orebiyi said that it appeared that politicians were not learning from the process.