By Oladewa Shittu – July 18, 2022
Reports have it of unusual plans by political parties and their candidates to outsmart each other in the just concluded governorship election in Osun State, held on July 16, 2022.
It was reliably learnt that some of the major parties engaged their party agents, foot soldiers and monitors in oath-taking against any form of dubious acts and activities capable of causing the parties defeat in the poll.
A source in one of the political parties who confided in speaking with the correspondent that the foot soldiers and party agents that would be present at polling units were gathered and made to promise to ensure that the money released for the prosecution of the poll is judiciously distributed to beneficiaries.
“We had promised and vowed not to cause the party defeat nor channel the money they would give us to our personal use,” the source said.
Findings by our correspondent showed that some party agents had carted away money meant for voters in the past elections and that the need to prevent a repeat of such negligence and treachery necessitated the oath-taking.
Some of them were said to have sworn by holding iron objects while other preferred swearing with Holy Books.
However, stakeholders, including election observers have expressed worry that electorate would be selling their votes to politicians.
Meanwhile, security operatives have taken over some areas earlier identified as flashpoints in order to ensure peace and orderliness before, during and after the governorship election as over 1.5 million registered voters have collected their Permanent Voter Cards.
Already, armed and fierce-looking security personnel have been parading the nooks and crannies of the state and conducting massive show of force in the build up to the poll.
The Inspector General of Police, IGP Usman Baba had disclosed that no fewer than 21,000 policemen had been deployed to the state. Also, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps said it mobilised over 11,000 of its operatives to maintain peace and order.
Though, the Army, Department of State Security Service did not disclose any particular figure of their men for the election, hundreds of soldiers and secret police officers were seen patroling the state while others were stationed in strategic locations including violent-prone areas.
Greater number of security operatives were stationed at the headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission in Osogbo where the final results and winner of the contest would be declared.
To ensure free vehicular movement to and from the INEC headquarters, security operatives had barricaded a lane of the busy road for only accredited electoral stakeholders to ply. This development has, however, created traffic snarl around the area.
Some travellers moving outside and inside the state were stranded on Friday along the area as they faced difficulty in boarding vehicles.
Checks by a witness revealed that some flashpoints in Osogbo, Ilesa, Ile-Ife, Ede, Iwo and Ikirun among others have witnessed heavy deployment of troops and other security agents.
The Deputy Inspector of General of Police (DIG), Johnson Babatunde Kokumo, the leader of the election police team, has called for collective effort in a bid to have a free, fair and credible poll in the state. He said the presence of policemen at polling units would discourage vote-buying in the poll.
Kokumo, while interacting with accredited observer groups, charged members of the public to alert the security operatives whenever they notice electoral anomalies such as vote-buying.
In his words, “you also talked about vote-buying, to you you feel when you see something or say something that is not applicable to the circumstance, I want to appeal to you: whatever you see that is contrary to the Electoral Act 2022, let us know. Call our attention to it. It is not out of place.
“You know our zeal. You know the security personnel are in the picture of vote buying, they may not. You have a civic responsibility to discharge and what is that? Join hands with us in curbing crimes and criminality. And, of course, this includes electoral offenses. We cannot do it alone. If you join hands with us to do it, you will be equally succeeded in doing your bit.
“And the little things we were able to do collectively and equally are responsible for success we see in those elections we have had in Nigeria,” he said.
The police afterward announced restriction of movements from 12am of Saturday to 6:00pm of the day.
“People who are saddled with responsibility with special duties such as INEC accredited press men and women and election observers are free to move as far as they have their tags.”
Meanwhile, heavy shooting was on Friday witnessed at Ojurin motor park, Old Garage, Osogbo, around 12:30pm by some suspected thugs said to be loyal to the Chairman of National Union of Road Transport Workers, Oroki Branch, Osogbo, Osun State, Kazeem Oyewale, popularly known as ‘Asiri Eniba’
Eyewitnesses around the area revealed that there were exchange of gunshots by the hoodlums and some soldiers before Oyewale was reportedly arrested alongside some armed political hoodlums. Few minutes after, Oyewale was released after some influential political individuals in the state intervened.
Earlier, a Federal High Court sitting in Osogbo, the Osun State capital, had restrained the Osun Security Network, codenamed Amotekun Corps from participating in today’s gubernatorial election.
The court order also mandated the INEC not to make use of the Amotekun Corps as part of the personnel to be deployed to provide security in the election.
The order warned Amotekun not to serve as either security personnel or volunteer in the guber election.
Part of the order had read: “That the 1st defendant (INEC) is hereby restrained from requesting the deployment of the second defendant (Amotekun) as part of the security personnel deployable for the purpose of Osun 2022 governorship election pending the determination of the originating summons filed in the suit.”
But the Osun Amotekun field commander, Amitolu Shittu, yesterday asked his men to monitor today’s election without wearing uniform. He urged them to comport themselves and ensure that they were armed with what he described as “confirmed African Science Materials.”
Amitolu in a press statement made available to newsmen in Osogbo, said all Area Commanders and Local Government commanders should make sure men under their jurisdictions are well organised and peaceful.
He said: “You (Amotekun operatives) are to perform your civic right in mufti. Do not go to any polling unit with any material except your voter’s card. You must conduct yourself in a peaceful manner devoid of any controversy as the law has no respect for violators.
“Remember to have with you all your tested and confirmed African Science Materials. All your observations and reports must be sent to #AmotekunOsunSituationbase.
Oladewa is a final year undergraduate of the Department of Linguistics and Communication Studies, Osun State University.