GOVERNORSHIP candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) Omisore, in Osun State, has protested alleged partisanship by the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Mr Segun Agbaje, and sought the national chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commissioner (INEC), Prof Mahmood Yakubu, to relocate him before the September 22 election.
Omisore, whose call for Agbaje’s removal was part of the demands placed before a team from the British Deputy High Commission Lagos, who paid him a visit at the SDP secretariat in Osogbo, on Friday, alleged that the state’s INEC REC had “compromised the election, and for it to be free and fair, he must the removed.”
The British envoy team led by its Communication Manager and Political Adviser, Mr Wale Adebajo, speaking on the reason for their visit, said they were in the state as independent observers to monitor the level of preparedness of INEC and political parties for the election, and would also be around on the election day to monitor proceedings.
Adebajo, accompanied by two other colleagues, Mr David Ukagwu and Mrs Damilola Oyedele, said, the team had met with INEC officials in the state, likewise with candidates of other political parties, and were also ready to meet with security operatives to ensure a smooth, free and fair governorship election in the state.
Omisore, while responding, faulted the level of INEC preparedness, saying, himself and his party had lost trust and confidence in the ability of the state’s INEC REC to conduct a free and fair election, alleging that he, Agbaje, as the umpire was already compromised, is the same man who conducted the 2014 governorship election, where he said he was “rigged out.”
He wondered why the state INEC would be mixing members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) with its ad-hoc staff and corps members, who, he said were over 8,000 people working against the opposition, but, who, he said his supporter would resist as threats to the election.
He alleged that, “the state INEC officials have, again, set the stage for rigging as we can all see that they’ve refused to display voters list and made public the names of polling officers, as against the electoral act which stipulates that both should be released and made public 30 days before the election day.”
Omisore contended that, with his 2014 experience in the governorship election, he won’t allow history to repeat itself, while he warned all authorities to caution INEC staff against any act that could mar the election which may result in violence, adding that, SDP had already mapped out plans with his supporters to resist rigging at the polls.
He stated: “The security report has shown us that Agbaje visits the state governor every night. He is backing the APC who has collaborated with the police to intimidate people and arrest supporters of the opposition parties, as you can see, they are not campaigning but relying on vote buying,” Omisore said.
According to him, “Agbaje is a compromised umpire, we want a better and neutral REC. He came back less than a year ago, and there are petitions already written against him. Osun people are fed up, they want a neutral umpire.”
“We have no trust in INEC, its officials are partial and already compromised. They know the strength of each candidate and this is why INEC staff are frustrating credible voters from collecting their PVCs especially in areas where the candidates are very popular and strong. They also plan to use fake ambulances to transport ballot papers and use fake police,” Omisore told the British envoy team.
He though warned against any act of violence, but said if people can’t verify their names before the election day, they won’t vote, and since SDP supporters had already been told to resist any act of rigging and manipulation of results, such, he said, could lead to violence, the reason he said he was calling on concerned authorities to act fast on his demands.
He expressed fears that the September 22 election may be fraught with malpractices to be perpetrated by the same INEC REC against his party, alleging that the plans to rig the governorship election were hatched with the collaboration of the state’s INEC leadership, the state government and security operatives.
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