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Governors’ invasion of Ondo a threat to democracy —TMG

 The Transition Monitoring Group (TMG), a coalition of over 400 civil society organisations has faulted the presence of state governors in Ondo State ahead of Saturday’s governorship election in the state, saying it was a threat to democracy.

The Chairman of the coalition, Dr Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, said this at a pre-election press briefing on Friday, adding that the refusal of these governors to leave the state constituted a threat to the peaceful and credible conduct of the election.

Though she failed to mention their names, she argued that they could use their immunity to get involved in malpractices like vote-buying, intimidation and could also sponsor political violence.

She said: “TMG condemns the practice of governors from other states that have invaded Ondo State and refused to leave after campaign has ended. These governors who travelled and sponsored their political expedition with the meagre resources of their states may constitute a threat to free and fair election by taking advantage of their immunity to be involved in election malpractices like vote-buying, intimidation of security operatives and sponsorship of political violence. All invading governors should leave since campaign has ended.”

The TMG further stated that the three leading political parties for the election had engaged in promoting violence and had also been inducing voters ahead of the poll.

According to Akinyode-Afolabi, this had increased the political tension ahead of the D-Day while calling on security agencies to clamp down on those involved in the act which she said violated the electoral law.

“Since the beginning of electioneering, the three major political parties, APC, PDP and ZLP have been involved in promoting political banditry, violence and reprisal, allegations and counter-allegations, vote-buying and voters inducement at different levels and in varied forms. This action is illegal as it flouts electoral law.

“This has raised political tension in the state until a few days to the election when more security personnel were deployed in the state. TMG condemns this desperation for power by political parties as it undermines the fundamental tenet of democracy which is free choice.

“TMG appeals to political parties and candidates to translate their agreement to observe peace by consenting to sign peace accord into practice through maintenance of order and observe all the rules governing elections during and after the poll.

“Election should not be a do-or-die affair if the purpose is to serve and not to loot the treasury. We demand the establishment of Electoral Offences Mobile Courts in future to deal with electoral offenders with dispatch on the day of election”, she said.

According to her, TMG had identified some local government areas as hotspots for electoral violence while calling on security agents deployed to ensure that nobody, no matter their positions, is allowed to disrupt the poll or manipulate it in any way.

She added: “Eight hotspots have been projected by the TMG’s observers in local government areas at the end of the meeting held on October 8, 2020. These are Akko South East, Ilaje, Oke-Igbo/Ile Oluji, Akoko South West, Owo, Idanre, Akure South, Ese Odo local government areas.

“We are aware that Police will be deploying 33,000 officers for election duty in the state. This is more than the total police strength of some countries. So, the police force and other security agencies cannot afford to fail in ensuring violence-free, peaceful election by conducting themselves peacefully and professionally without bias.”

Governor Rotimi Akeredolu will be seeking reelection in tomorrow’s election and will be slugging it with Eyitayo Jegede of the PDP, Deputy Governor Agboola Ajayi of ZLP and 14 other candidates.

Bibiyobra: Friday, 9 October 2020 at 10/09/2020 07:05:00 pm


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