By Sunday Ani
A councillorship candidate on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for Ward D, Kirikiri Town, Apapa, in the just concluded local council election in Lagos State, Olarenwaju Mustapha has alleged that he was robbed of the victory clearly given to him by his constituents.
In this exclusive chat with the Daily Sun, he narrated how the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) robbed him of his hard won victory in broad daylight and demanded that he should be declared the rightful winner and sworn in at once.
You alleged that APC stole your mandate in the just concluded local council election held on Saturday. How did it happen?
On the day of election, voting ended at 3pm and the counting was to start immediately after that. Normally, vote counting after previous elections took place at a secondary school, close to the Kirikiri Police Station, but on this particular Election Day, Saturday, July 24, 2023, some APC members led by a former House of Assembly member insisted that the counting should be done at the Oriade Local Council Development Area Secretariat at Marwa Road instead of the usual place used during previous elections. There were hot arguments between my supporters and the APC members but after much argument, the Divisional Police Officer that was there prevailed on everybody to head to the Oriade Council Secretariat for counting. We have 38 polling units in Kirikiri Town, comprising four wards – Kirikiri Town, Navy Town, Beach land and Comfort Oboh. When they got to Oriade, they started counting, and after 37 polling units were counted, we were leading other candidates. We had over 500 votes while our closest rival, the APC candidate, had about 400 votes. We were leading her with over 50 votes. At that point, they employed all kinds of tricks to delay the counting of votes from the last polling unit. They delayed it till about 9pm at night from about 4pm in the evening. As soon as the Returning Officer (RO), Rebecca Funmilayo Adeyemi, was about to count the votes from the last polling unit (PU 026), and add up the whole figures, so that I would be declared the winner, the former House of Assembly member came in and took her aside for a private discussion. The private discussion lasted for about two hours and when she came back to announce the results, she changed the result of a particular unit for the APC from 30 to 300 votes in front of everybody including my agent. My agent and other PDP supporters protested and questioned what had happened since we had our own result as declared at the polling unit. As the disagreement was going on, thugs hired by the former House of Assembly member invaded the venue, brutally attacked my agent and PDP supporters and chased them out of the venue. At that point, I called them on the phone to leave the venue at once. Later that night, we heard that the results had been announced and that the APC candidate had won. This was a candidate who was lagging behind me now, scoring over 700 votes from about 400 votes that he got after the votes from the 37 polling units were counted.
When you heard that the APC candidate had been declared the winner, what did you do?
On Monday, July 26, we took some of our party members and supporters to the Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission (LASIEC) office at N0 2, Birrel Avenue, Yaba, Lagos, in a peaceful protest because the result as announced was not acceptable to us. The last result from the PU 026 is still with the returning officer because she did not declare it before our agent. Our agent did not sign it.
So, when we got to the LASIEC office, we were welcomed by the police officer there, who assured us that our complaints would be addressed. He took us inside and we wrote a petition and addressed it to LASIEC Chairman, Justice Ayotunde Phillip. We handed the petition alongside the results of the 37 polling units that were declared before thugs attacked and disrupted the counting, over to the LASIEC chairman’s Personal Assistance (PA) because the chairman was not on seat. Her PA assured us that the certificate for that particular ward would not be issued if there was a problem. He also promised us that a committee to look into our complaints would be set up later this week and if we were not satisfied with the committee’s decision, we could proceed to the tribunal. But, as at today, Tuesday, July 27, the newly elected chairmen and councillors were sworn into offices. It is everywhere in the social media that a certificate of return has been given to my opponent, the APC candidate in the election and she has been sworn in as councillor representing Ward D, Kirikiri Town, Apapa.
What do you intend to do now that the swearing-in ceremony has taken place? I mean what do you want?
We are just trying to let the world know the level of rigging that took place during the just concluded council election in Lagos. We also want our mandate to be returned to us.
What is your party, the PDP, doing?
We have submitted the results to the party, and I think they are preparing to go to the tribunal, which will be set up later, to our mandate.