Political observers had submitted that rather than use soldiers during elections, that the police should be strengthened to discharge the duty of ensuring internal security while the armed forces be restricted to the defence of the nation’s territorial integrity. Upon this, the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has continued to deploy soldiers to maintain law and order during elections. Adesoji Oyinlola writes
Finally, a winner has emerged in the highly publicized and controversial Osun State governorship election and the dust hanging in the air for the duration the election took place is fast settling down, the heavy convoy of soldiers, DSS, Mobile and regular Police and their counterparts in the paramilitary should by now be in the comfort of their homes, miles away from the deafening noise that characterized the August 9 governorship election that saw the incumbent governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola taking his opponent to the cleaners.
After the mudslinging, the Brit-bat, buzzing of the social media and several name callings between the two leading contenders, Rauf Aregbesola and Iyiola Omisore, the Independent National Electoral Commission’s returning officer, who is also the Vice Chancellor, Obafemi Awolowo University, OAU, Ile-Ife, Professor Bamitale Omole, declared Aregbesola as winner of the fiercely contested election. According to him, Aregbesola won the poll in 22 Local Government Areas against Senator Iyiola Omisore of PDP who won in 8 Councils of the state.
Aregbesola polled a total of 394,684 votes, while Omisore scored 292,747 votes as released by INEC early yesterday morning.
The spontaneous jubilation that greeted Aregbesola’s victory across the state confirmed the determination by the mostly agrarian people that they are in tune with the credible performance of the APC candidate, therefore, no amount of intimidation is enough to scare them off from exercising their civic right.
People of the state no doubt became apprehensive when the Federal Government prior to the election deployed an unprecedented number of heavy security personnel, including soldiers, DSS, Mobile And conventional Policemen and paramilitary.
Checks by Peoples Daily few days before the election revealed the deployment of 900 operatives of the Department of State Security (DSS) to monitor the August 9 governorship election in Osun State.
The DSS operatives were said to have shot sporadically into the air last Thursday in Osogbo, the state capital, a development that led to people running for safety.
Also, a source from Osogbo said Ear-splitting siren is blaring in Osogbo, the capital of Osun State as security operatives from various agencies, including the Nigerian Army, the Department of State Security (DSS) and the Nigeria Police Force arrive ahead of the August 9 governorship election.
They can be seen in all strategic areas. Though their presence is meant to guarantee safety, the people of the state seem apprehensive due to the appearance of stern looking security men.
Another resident of Osogbo and a medical practitioner, Dr Azeez Umar said he sighted armed DSS operatives in a convoy of over 50 Hilux vehicles parading the city of Osogbo and that their presence created fear in the mind of the people of the state.
However, the Minister of State for Defence, Musiliu Obanikoro, said that the Federal Government deployed soldiers in the Osun State governorship election to forestall bloodletting in the state.
The minister who spoke with newsmen in Ibadan on the day of the election, said soldiers were drafted to Osun to maintain peace and orderliness during the election.
“If the military had not been drafted to Osun’s election, blood would have been flowing there.
The soldiers there are highly professional and they are there to ensure a crisis and violence-free election. The whole idea is to create a conducive atmosphere for a free and fair election and President Goodluck Jonathan should be commended for this.
“You, gentlemen of the press can see me in Ibadan live and direct today (Saturday). As you too can see, I am not in Osun not to talk of being part of the election there. As I speak with you now (12:45p.m) APC has invaded Osun with thugs. What APC is doing is in contradiction of electoral guidelines.
We had election in Edo where the military was involved and Adams Oshiomole won. APC did not complain. Recently, we had Ekiti election where PDP won. And people adjudged the election to be free and fair. APC leaders should learn to be good losers,” he stated.
However, members of the APC countered Obanikoro claims on the real purpose soldiers were deployed to the state for the election. According to them, the Federal Government had anticipated a successful manoeuvring of the election in favour of Omisore, therefore deployed the soldiers to quell whatever protest the people would have embarked upon.
Apparently not satisfied with the outcome of the election, Iyiola Omisore protested the announcement of the results by the agents of the APC.
There are evidence that each camp was trying to outsmart the other in what political analysts term ‘preparatory ground to contest the integrity of poll results’, the two main contenders of the Osun State governorship election on Saturday night embarked on war of words.
It first started with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate in the election, Senator Iyiola Omisore, who at about 12 midnight on Saturday protested the alleged announcement of the result by the agents of All Progressives Congress (APC).
In the letter of protest which he personally signed and addressed to the state Resident Electoral Commissioner, the PDP candidate alleged that contrary to the results being circulated around by the agents of APC, he was actually leading in the poll, adding that such results should be cancelled.
“I hereby condemn the APC candidate, Rauf Aregbesola declaring his own version of the results without recourse to INEC. With the facts of results, it’s apparent that the PDP candidate, Dr. Iyiola Omisore is leading.
“This act of APC is in conflict with the provisions of Electoral Law 2010 whereby a candidate can concoct figures, release to confuse the public thus making this election inconclusive until facts behind the figures are released by the INEC.
” The peace and stability of this state is such under an unprecedented threat. The results so far by APC remained cancelled,” he said.
But in a swift reaction to the letter, the All Progressives Congress (APC) said that the statement is clearly an attempt to prepare the ground for the perversion of the results and the reversal of the expressed will of the people.
” Against the background of the obvious and undeniable victory of the APC in the election, the statement is clearly an attempt to prepare the ground for the perversion of the results and the reversal of the expressed will of the people.
” The claim by the PDP that the APC has been declaring fake results and directing its members to commence celebrations across the state defies all logic and reason.
” The Osun state governorship election has been the most publicized, reported and observed in the history of Nigeria.
” The Independent National Electoral Commission responsible for conducting the election is a Federal Government agency.
” In an unprecedented manner, the Federal Government militarized the state for this election deploying thousands of soldiers, policemen, Department of state security agencies among several others for the purpose of this election,” APC said.