The House of Representatives bye-election in Akure South/North Federal Constituency of Ondo State, which held on Saturday, witnessed turnout of voters but was marred with violence in some polling units.
The election was conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission to fill the vacant seat in the constituency following the death of Hon. Adedayo Omolafe known as “expensive.”
The candidates of seven political parties participated in the weekend exercise amid tight security from the police, army and civil defence officers.
At St. Paul Primary School Oba Ile, ward 9, unit 3, in Akure North Local Government Area, it was gathered that the deputy governor, Mr Lucky Aiyedatiwa, was allegedly seen distributing money to some voters causing tension and panic.
Aiyedatiwa, according to some of the voters, was spotted with APC leaders in the ward trying to induce the voters but hurriedly left after spending some minutes.
Although the deputy governor hails from the Southern Senatorial District of the state, it was alleged that he and the APC leaders mobilised some hoodlums, who were purportedly planning to snatch ballot boxes but were resisted.
One of the voters who spoke with journalists explained that, “The deputy governor (Aiyedatiwa) was here but left after spending some minutes with some APC leaders.
“He was here in a black Mercedes Benz G Wagon parked outside the venue of the election and this created tension among voters. We don’t know the business of the deputy governor in our centre.
“After he had left, they started enticing the voters with money but we rejected it. They planned to snatch the boxes and still resisted it.”
However, Aiyedatiwa denied the allegation when contacted by journalists on the phone, describing it as lies.
He claimed that he did not leave his residential house nor step out to distribute any money to induce voters.
“It is not true. How can I go around distributing money? What is my own with that? Anyone that says so should bring evidence where they saw me distributing money.
“I live outside the government house. I live among the people, so I don’t live in a government house for now. So if anybody says they see me, maybe around my area. I don’t understand what they are saying.”
But former Commissioner for Works and APC stalwart in Oba Ile, Saka Yusuf-Ogunleye, in an interview confirmed the presence of the deputy governor at the unit.
Ogunleye, although, noted that Aiyedatiwa was only in the ward to monitor the election process and denied inducing the electorates.
He said, “Yes, he was here but only came to monitor the situation and not distributing money. He only came here to ask me questions and I told him that the election had been peaceful.
“The allegation that APC tried to snatch ballot is not true. Those making the claim were only insinuating.”
Also, suspected thugs nearly disrupted election process at Ward 10, Unit 17 in Fiwasaye area of Akure South LGA.
It was gathered that the thugs, who came in a private vehicle, attacked some voters during Saturday’s exercise.
Ganiyu Sakiru Adewale, one of the voters, who was attacked by the thugs, told journalists that the thugs were heavily armed with dangerous weapons.
“I am a student of the Federal College of Agriculture, Akure, and I came here to exercise my franchise when the incident happened.
“I noticed that two people were arguing and my younger brother was trying to calm them down but it led to a fight and they began to beat him.
“In that process, I told them to leave my brother alone but rather they bounced on me and the thugs started beating me.
“The thugs beat me up to stupor using stones, sticks and other weapons but I suspected that they belong to one of the political parties participating in the election.”
In the meantime, there was tension at Gbogi Isinkan II, Ward 3, Unit 14 of Akure South Local Government Area of Ondo State as the candidate of the All Progressives Congress in the Akure North/Akure South Federal Constituency by-election, Mayokun Alade, was chased out of his polling unit.
The incident nearly marred the exercise at the polling unit as the opposition parties accused the APC candidate of financial inducement.
Several eyewitnesses revealed that the security agencies quickly intervened while Alade was whisked out of the venue.
One of the eyewitnesses recounted that the people protested against the APC candidate as he was seen from a distance giving some people money, allegedly to induce them to vote for him.
He was said to be hurriedly moved out of the scene as the people mobilised against him, causing serious confusion at the polling unit.
Some APC members confirmed the incident and revealed that their candidate only appreciated party supporters by giving them money for drinks.
They noted that it was PDP members, who mobilised to disrupt the voting process in the polling unit, trying to spoil their candidate’s chances.
Alade, however, debunked the allegation, disclosing that “the people spotted me in white and hailed me, trying to hug me. I did not give anybody money to vote for me”.
He claimed that he had voted before he was whisked out of the premises so as not to disrupt the election, expressing optimism that he would win the election due to his developmental agenda for the growth of Akure Kingdom.