■ Meets INEC, Police, others
Wole Balogun, Ado Ekiti
The Council of Obas in Ekiti State on Friday demanded free, fair and credible process ahead of the July 14 governorship poll, and urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), security agents and party candidates to ensure there is no violence or manipulation before, during and after the election.
The council made the demands when they met with the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Professor Abdulganiyu Raji, the Commissioner of Police, Ahmed Bello and the candidates of various political parties at the palace of the Ewi of Ado, Oba Rufus Adejugbe Aladesanmj.
At the meeting, the royal fathers led by the Chairman and Oloye of Oye Ekiti, Oba Oluwole Ademolaju, expressed worry over the allegations that the electoral umpire might not be neutral in the coming governorship poll.
Ademolaju demanded explanation on why the INEC wanted to use students of tertiary institutions as adhoc staff, instead of the youth corps members that it has traditionally used for such elections.
The traditional rulers said that information at their disposal showed that there are 299 flashpoints already isolated as potentially explosives voting centres. “Our people must be assured of their safety. All uncollected permanent voters cards must be destroyed a week before the election, to guarantee that it will not get into wrong hands.
“We urge you to appoint unbiased corps members. Security agencies must ensure fairness and should not embark on indiscriminate arrests before or during election. Ekiti election is the yardstick to show the world that we are making progress in our democratic journey.
“We don’t want bloodshed in Ekiti that is why we are taking proactive steps so that we don’t lament at the end of the day. We the royal fathers don’t have anywhere to go if there are breakdown of law and order.”
The monarchs also invoked the wrath of gods on any politician that caused violence before, during and after the poll. Oba Ademolaju said, “we don’t want war and if we say there should be no war, then there should be no cheating.
“Don’t put Ekiti into trouble, go and campaign, tell people what you want to do. Some people are fond of removing other people posters and billboards, anybody who causes evil, evil will return to the person in the name of our ancestors.
“We don’t want the repeat of 1983. Ekiti does not like cheating, if you don’t like it, then don’t engage in it. There will always be another four years. Therefore this election must not be a do or die affair,” said Oba Ademolaju.
The Resident Electoral Commissioner however assured the monarchs of INEC’s neutrality in the coming election. He said that some improvements have been made to ensure free, fair and transparent election.
On the issue of using students, the REC said that it was not new, noting that the available corps members in Ekiti won’t be enough for INEC. He said that students being engaged are neither fresh nor graduating, adding that they are being properly screened to ensure their neutrality.
On his part, the Police Commissioner, who was represented by Deputy Commissioner of Police, Ede Yakubu, told the traditional rulers of the level of preparedness of the police force to maintain peace before, during and after the election.
He also assured the people of the state that the police is collaborating with other sister security agencies to maintain law and order. He also pledged police neutrality at the poll.