Eleven of the 18 local governments in Ondo State have been identified as possible flashpoint for violence ahead of the governorship election taking place in the state tomorrow. Addressing newsmen during its pre-election briefing, an election watchdog, Yiaga Africa, said it was concerned about the seeming helplessness and failure of security agents to curb acts of lawlessness and impunity being perpetrated by armed political thugs and political actors during campaigns. Addressing the media alongside other board members of the group, Co-chair, Yiaga Africa, Dr. Aisha Abdullahi, said the pre-election environment was signposted by violent campaign rhetoric and hate speech. She said: “Yiaga Africa’s pre-election observation findings revealed a consistent trend of violence and arms stockpiling across some local government areas in the state.
“More worrisome is the attack on some female party supporters in Oba- Akoko who were allegedly beaten and stripped naked for wearing politically branded t-shirts and fez caps of one of the candidates.
“Notable LGs where incidents of violence and arms gathering were observed include Akoko South West, Akure South, Akure North, Akoko South-East, Akoko North- West, Irele, Idanre, Ese- Odo, Okitipupa, Ilaje and Owo.” “The organization is further concerned that election-day violence may occur in these locations if the security threats are not neutralized. “The organization is further concerned with the seeming failure of the security agencies to curb acts of lawlessness and impunity perpetrated by armed political thugs and political actors during campaigns.
“Given the background of pre-election violence and gangster politics, the state may witness a further decline in voter turnout. The low turnout may further enhance chances for electoral manipulation in the strongholds of the major political parties particularly in rural areas where election rigging usually takes place.” Also speaking, Mr. Ezenwa Nwagu, Co-Chair, Yiaga Africa, called the attention of the Independent National Electoral Commission to notorious blind spots in reverine communities of Ilaje and Ese-Odo LGAs, stating that poll must commence early to avoid electoral challenges.
Nwagu urged security agencies to deploy professionalism, competence and independence during poll as political parties and candidates must be deliberately committed to the Peace Accord they subscribed to.
Meanwhile, Akeredolu has declared today as a work-free day for workers in the state’s Public Service ahead of tomorrow’s election. The governor in a statement issued by the Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Donald Ojogo, the workfree day was “approved as such to enable workers to have enough time to embark on adequate measures aimed at preparing themselves for the election. “Governor Akeredolu wishes all stakeholders, especially our workers in the Public Service, the best of luck as they exercise their civic responsibility,” he said.