INEC’s report of alleged irregularities in Ondo APC primaries raises concerns

Despite the emergence of Governor Lucky Aiyedatiwa as the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, ahead of the forthcoming November governorship election in the state, uncertainty looms over the party regarding its candidate for the poll.

This development stemmed from the report of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, which raised concerns over the irregularities that marred the shadow election in various parts of the state.

Aiyedatiwa was declared the winner of the primaries by the Governor of Kogi State, Usman Ododo, who was the chairman of the Primary Election Committee, Usman Ododo, after emerging with 48,569 votes to defeat 15 other aspirants.

According to the report submitted by the electoral officials of INEC, who monitored the primaries in various 203 political wards of the state, there are cases of irregularities in some parts, due to failures such as the non-arrival of electoral materials and the lack of proper collation of results.

In the Certified True Copy, CTC, submitted to the Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC, in the state, the INEC electoral officers maintained that the election did not take place in their respective locations.

The report partly reads: “The All Progressives Congress Primary was scheduled to hold in Ifedore Local Government Area on April 20, 2024. Members of staff were sent from the INEC Office to monitor the primary in each of the 10 wards of the local government area as stipulated by the Electoral Act 2022. There was no agenda provided for the primary in all 10 wards.

“In the 10 wards of the local government area, the All Progressives Party Electoral Committee required to conduct the primary was not available to conduct the exercise. In all 10 wards, the aspirants agents displayed the posters of their preferred aspirants, and the party members on the ground in those wards queued behind those agents, showing their support.

“The party members acted violently against the INEC officials in Letters I and II. More so, party members were demanding the INEC officials conduct the primary election for them.

“The election of All Progressives Congress Governorship Primary was not held in person due to the unavailability of the election materials to be used and the absence of the electoral organising committee in all 10 registration areas until the monitoring team left late in the evening.”

Concerning Ilaje Local Government Area, the report states: “In compliance with the directive of the Commission and as part of INEC’s statutory function to monitor and report political parties primaries elections, members of staff were deployed to the 12 RA’s that made up the LGA to monitor the primaries at the 12 designated centres across the local government.

“The scheduled primary election was to elect the candidate who will fly the flag of the All Progressive Congress as a gubernatorial candidate in the coming governorship election in Ondo State. Copies of the agenda were not provided.

“The party members in the local government all converged at the designated venues to exercise their civic responsibilities. Although INEC monitors were present in all wards for the assignment, the event was characterised by the non-availability of election materials across the 12 RAs in the LGA. Collation did not take place at the local government collation as the centre was under lock and key.

“Lists of contestants for the elections in all wards were not given. In view of the above, elections did not take place in Ilaje LGA, and results were not given to the monitors.”

With the primaries marked by controversies, no fewer than six aspirants who contested the ticket with Aiyedatiwa submitted petitions to the party’s appeal committee, with the resolve to explore the party’s internal mechanisms before proceeding to the law court

Newsmen recalls that the violence that rocked the primaries was also confirmed by the party’s returning officer in Ifedore Local Council, Oliver Okpala, during the collation of the results in Akure, the state capital, after disclosing that sporadic gunshots prevented the shadow election from taking place in the area.

Okpala, who said that due to the violence, he recorded zero votes for all the aspirants in the local council, disclosed: “No election took place in Ifedore. We couldn’t find anybody in any ward. Everybody has taken shelter in their homes. There was violence everywhere. We saw people mobilising. The police were on the ground to give protection.”