Ahead of Saturday governorship election in Ondo State, the Transition Monitoring Group which is a coalition of over 400 civil society organisations has condemned the ‘invasion’ of the state by some governors.
The Chairman, Transition Monitoring Group, Dr Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, said at a pre-election press briefing on Friday that the refusal of these governors to leave the state constituted a threat to the peaceful and credible conduct of the election.
She, however, did not mention the governors present in the state.
She said they could use their immunity to get involved in malpractices like vote-buying, intimidation and could also sponsor political violence.
She said, “TMG condemns the practice of governors from other states that have invaded Ondo State and refused to leave after campaign has ended. These governors who travelled and sponsored their political expedition with the meagre resources of their states may constitute a threat to free and fair election by taking advantage of their immunity to be involved in election malpractices like vote-buying, intimidation of security operatives and sponsorship of political violence. All invading governors should leave since campaign has ended.”
The TMG also said the three leading political parties for the election had engaged in promoting violence and had also been inducing voters ahead of the poll. Akinsode-Afolabi said this had increased the political tension ahead of the D-Day while calling on security agencies to clamp down on those involved in the act which she said violated the electoral law.
The TMG chairman said, “Since the beginning of electioneering, the three major political parties, APC, PDP and ZLP have been involved in promoting political banditry, violence and reprisal, allegations and counter-allegations, vote-buying and voters inducement at different levels and in varied forms. This action is illegal as it flouts electoral law.
“This has raised political tension in the state until a few days to the election when more security personnel were deployed in the state. TMG condemns this desperation for power by political parties as it undermines the fundamental tenet of democracy which is free choice.
“Election should not be a do-or-die affair if the purpose is to serve and not to loot the treasury. We demand the establishment of Electoral Offences Mobile Courts in future to deal with electoral offenders with dispatch on the day of election.”
She also said the TMG had identified some local government areas as hotspots for electoral violence while calling on security agents deployed to ensure that nobody, no matter their positions, is allowed to disrupt the poll or manipulate it in any way.
Akiyode-Afolabi added, “Eight hotspots have been projected by the TMG’s observers in local government areas at the end of the meeting held today, October 8, 2020. These are Akko South East, Ilaje, Oke-Igbo/Ile Oluji, Akoko South West, Owo, Idanre, Akure South, Ese Odo local government areas.
“We are aware that Police will be deploying 33,000 officers for election duty in the state. This is more than the total police strength of some countries. So, the police force and other security agencies cannot afford to fail in ensuring violence-free, peaceful election by conducting themselves peacefully and professionally without bias.”