Seven All Progressives Congress (APC) aspirants expected to participate in yesterday’s governorship primary of the party, boycotted the race over allegations of fraud and manipulation of the process in favour of the immediate past Secretary to the State Government, Biodun Oyebanji, touted as the choice of Governor Kayode Fayemi, and eventual winner of the election.
The Ekiti governorship election has been slated for June 18.
Oyebanji, who had served as commissioner and Secretary to the State Government, was alleged to have been foisted on the party by Fayemi.
However, before voting commenced, some aggrieved aspirants, including Senator Opeyemi Bamidele, Senator Dayo Adeyeye, Hon Bamidele Faparusi, Demola Popoola, Afolabi Oluwasola, Hon Femi Bamisile and Kayode Ojo, had announced the boycott of the election over alleged fraudulent practices.
They also visited the headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Department of State Services and the Ekiti Police Command to lodge their complaints over alleged hijack of the process by Fayemi’s appointees.
Despite the initial snag and protest by the heavyweight politicians, the Governor Mohammed Abubakar Badaru-led APC governorship Primary Committee declared that Oyebanji defeated other contenders in the primary conducted directly.
Badaru said Oyebanji polled a total of 101,703 votes to defeat other seven aspirants, who had earlier boycotted the election in the early hours yesterday, apparently after allocating votes to the other contestants to justify Oyebanji’s victory.
According to Badaru, Bamidele polled 706 votes, Adeyeye, 691 votes; Bamisile, 400 votes; Ojo, 767; Popoola, 239; Faparusi, 376; and Afolabi, 47 votes.
He subsequently declared Oyebanji, as the candidate of the APC for the gubernatorial election, “having scored the highest spread of votes casts in the electio.”
Badaru said 183,560 were registered APC members in the state, 107,877 voters were accredited while 104, 983 voters were counted for the primary.
During the presentation of the results, there were reported cases of violence in some wards as stated by some returning officers, which included Ekiti East Ward 2 and 5, Irepodun/Ifelodun, five wards were affected, in Gbonyin local government, three wards, and a car was reportedly damaged.
In Ijero local government, election did not take place in one ward, in solidarity with one of the aspirants from the area.
Disproving the position in his acceptance speech, Oyebanji, who dedicated the victory to God and all party members, declared that the APC appeal panel would handle all controversial issues surrounding the conduct of the election.
He described the primary as credible, free and fair, contrary to position maintained by his co-contestants, who branded the poll as a sham.
The former Secretary to the State Government commended the Badaru-led panel and other aspirants for being thorough in the contest for the shadow poll, saying he was ready to work with all stakeholders to make Ekiti win the June 18 election.
Describing the election as no winner, no vanquished contest, Oyebanji said: “The guidelines of our party gives room for the constitution of appeal committee to attend to whatever grievances anyone has. They have the right to their opinions, but the party will come up with its position on how to resolve all issues regarding this primary.”
Earlier addressing journalists at the party’s secretariat in Ado Ekiti, the aggrieved aspirants said, those loyal to Fayemi and his anointed aspirant, Oyebanji, were appointed by the committee as party’s presiding officers and returning officers.
Bamidele, who addressed the pressmen on behalf of other contestants, said the party should not take any step that would embarrass APC in the court.
“They shouldn’t embarrass APC with this conduct. We want the Committee to stop the process. They have made the result sheets available to Biodun Oyebanji’s supporters to write the results.
“It was also embarrassing and unfortunate that only the government appointees and those loyal to Fayemi and Oyevanji were appointed as Returning Officers and Presiding Officers.
“The outcome of this election is predetermined. We want the process cancelled, because we don’t want the committee to embarrass our party by forcing us to confront them in the court.”