The Independent National Electoral Commission has rejected the calls for the postponement of the November 26 governorship poll in Ondo State, saying there is no justifiable reason to delay the election.
The governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Eyitayo Jegede (SAN), on Thursday, who visited the state chapter of INEC to lodge a protest, called for the postponement of the election.
Jegede said the list of his party agents had not been received by INEC, adding that his faction of the party had not got the copy of the voter register.
He said, “We want INEC to postpone the date of the election to enable me to enjoy the privileges the candidates of other parties enjoy in the election.
“Before now, my party has written to inform INEC on what is needed to be done in line with the provisions of the law; they have not replied the letter. There are three conditions for election postponement. These conditions are hinged on violence, natural disaster or any other emergency. What we have here is a legal emergency, it must be attended to.”
Presenting his protest letter to INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner in the state, Mr. Segun Agbaje, at the state headquarters of the commission in Akure, the state capital on Thursday, the PDP candidate said his request for election postponement was in line with the electoral laws.
Responding to the call for postponement, the REC said there was no going back on the Saturday date. He said the commission was ready to conduct the election and there was no way it could postpone the exercise.
Agbaje said, “We are going to conduct the election on Saturday; there is no going back. It is not the fault of INEC that parties are having intra-party crisis. It will cost Nigeria a lot of money if the election is postponed.
“We have prepared well for the election, the sensitive materials are already out and to postpone the election, it will cost the INEC a lot of money.”
Several pro-democracy groups, activists and party supporters had backed the call for the postponement of the election, saying that Jegede needed to be given some time to prepare and submit his agents’ list to INEC.
But the All Progressives Congress, Alliance for Democracy, among some political parties and pro-democracy groups, insisted that the poll should not be postponed.
Oke, Akeredolu express readiness for poll
The governorship candidate of the AD, Chief Olusola Oke, and his APC counterpart, Rotimi Akeredolu, have stated their readiness for the poll.
Oke, who spoke through the Director General of his campaign organisation, Bola Ilori, told our correspondent on the telephone, on Thursday, that the AD candidate was ready and confident of winning the poll.
He said Jegede had no genuine reason to call for a postponement of the poll because his party, the PDP, was not dropped from the race at any time.
According to him, the election will never hold if INEC begins to pander to the dictates of every political party that calls for postponement.
He said, “We are ready for the election. There is no genuine reason for any party to call for the postponement of the poll. If this is allowed, then the election may not hold forever.”
Also, Akeredolu also said he was ready for the Saturday election.
The candidate, who spoke through the spokesperson for the APC in the state, Mr. Abayomi Adesanya, said there was no point calling for a postponement of the election because the PDP had been preparing for the poll all along.
He said other political parties should not be made to suffer for the crisis of the PDP, saying it was their internal problem.
He said, “We are ready for the election. We have put our machinery in place. Those canvassing for postponement – it is their own problem and that is not a problem of everybody.”
Watch out for black spots – Groups
Two civil society groups, the Transition Monitoring Group and National Association for Peaceful Elections in Nigeria, have called on INEC and security agencies deployed by the Federal Government to be on the alert as there were areas where violence could erupt on Saturday during the governorship election.
The groups also urged INEC to work hard to prevent infractions that could disrupt the conduct of the election, especially in the identified crisis-prone areas of the state.
The chairman of TMG, Dr. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, stated this at a joint press conference organised by the two groups in Akure, the Ondo State capital, on Thursday.
She said, “We enjoin security officers to keep an eye on the identified hotspots such as Ilaje/Ese-Odo, Owo and Okitipupa council areas for electoral violence. We also enjoin them to keep their eyes on Akure-South and Ondo-West local government areas as they are the two largest in term of voters’ population.”
Meanwhile, the ambition of business mogul, Jimoh Ibrahim, to reclaim the governorship ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party suffered a setback on Thursday when the Supreme Court struck out 12 interlocutory appeals filed by his group.
Specifically, the apex court struck out 12 interlocutory appeals relating to the dispute over the Peoples Democratic Party’s ticket for the governorship poll in Ondo State.
But the apex court referred back to the Court of Appeal, Abuja, two pending appeals relating to the leadership tussle between the Ali Modu Sheriff and Ahmed Makarfi factions of the PDP.
In a unanimous decision of its five-man panel, the Supreme Court ruled that the 12 appeals that were struck out had become academic in view of the Wednesday judgment of the Court of Appeal in Abuja, reinstating Eyitayo Jegede as the PDP’s standard bearer for the poll scheduled to hold on Saturday.
The acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, who read the lead rulings of the apex court, said the appellants should go ahead and raise the issues contained in the 12 appeals in the substantive appeals they would later file against the Wednesday’s judgment of the Court of Appeal.
As of the time of filing this report on Thursday, no appeal had been filed against the judgment of the Court of Appeal.
The appellants led by Biyi Poroye are the state executive committee members of the Sheriff faction of the PDP in their various states of the South-West zone.
They are backing Ibrahim of the Sheriff’s PDP faction to run as the party’s governorship candidate for the forthcoming election in Ondo State.