Governor Olusegun Mimiko, Ondo state governor yesterday, raised the alarm over an alleged plot by collation officers to rig the election in favour of a particular candidate, warning against any act that could jeopardize the process.
Mimiko said: “I want to warn without any equivocation all those collation officers that are assigned to do this devilish and demonic assignment to desist from any act that could engender a combustible environment. And I hope they won’t be consumed by it. The people will resist any attempt to blatantly rig this election through pre-determined results sheets. And it is very easy to know, as the results come out of the polling centres. This is an era of social media. It will be transmitted live all over the world. If any outcome from INEC differs from what everybody already knows, we will resist.”
“My advice for such collation officers so assigned is for them not to attempt it because I know the depth of anger of our people who have not been allowed a level playing ground,” he added.
The governor also decried what he called financial inducement of voters by the opposition political parties. “From the reports I have been getting, this election has been peaceful, but the shameful aspect of it is the monetization of the election, as some people were given money openly to induce voters, especially people from other parties, not PDP. I appeal to the security to check this very shameful act. It is morally wrong,” he said.
A mild drama occurred in Ondo town, where the governor voted, as Card Reader failed to identify his thumbprint. The electoral officer in charge of the unit had to resort to manual registration. Mimiko expressed worries that the development might be a deliberate ploy to rig the election.
He said: “When I wanted to vote a while ago, the Card Reader could not pick my thumb impression and I thought it was just an isolated case. But the information I have gathered is that there are so many mal-functioning Card Readers in the central zone especially in Akure and Ondo. I hope this is not a systemic plan by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to waste the time of our people. We will keep watching, but what is more important and which I want to draw attention to is this persistent rumour that there are fake elections results like it was allegedly done in Edo State which they want to use to replace the authentic results from the polling booths. There are speculations out there that as these results leave the local governments to the central state collation centre; the exchange would be done inside INEC vehicles.”
He further decried heavy presence of security operatives at the polling booths. “As for security, I have seen a number of security personnel here myself as a governor, the police, the Civil Defence Corps and others. Armed security operatives are not expected to be at the polling unit but they could be alerted if there is any challenge of security,” he maintained.
The candidate of the PDP, Jegede, also raising similar concerns, accused the INEC of deliberate attempt to disenfranchise voters in Ondo Central Senatorial district. Speaking shortly after casting his ballot at Ward 2 Unit 9, located inside Sacred Heart Primary School, Akure, he said: “I have received situation reports that some of the Card Readers in Akure South Local Government are not working. I hope it is not a scheme to disenfranchise our people. I hope that they would allow the people on the queue to vote.”
“The agenda of disenfranchising Ondo Central and other areas where we have strength cannot stand. They tried to take me out of the contest, and they did not succeed; now they are trying to disenfranchise our people,” he further lamented.
Presiding officer in charge of Jegede’s unit, Ogwo Chidinma, confirmed the fears raised by the PDP, but maintained that those whose finger prints could not be recognized by the machine had been given incidents forms to enable them exercise their franchise.
“Once the Card Reader confirms genuineness of Permanent Voters Card, we give them Incident Form to vote,” he said. As at the time of filing the report, Ondo town was calm and the election process was quite peaceful in many of the polling units visited.