Ondo gov’ship: Violence, protest mar APC primary

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The governorship primary election of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ondo State yesterday witnessed a large turnout of party members but suffered hitches of violence and protest by some aspirants who faulted the conduct of the exercise and demanded for outright cancellation.

Daily Trust on Sunday reports that the primary election, which took place in the 203 wards of the state, was contested by 16 governorship aspirants, including the incumbent governor, Lucky Aiyedatiwa.

Others are Isaac Kekemeke; Olusoji Ehinlanwo; Olugbenga Edema; Jimoh Ibrahim; Funmilayo Waheed-Adekojo; Akinfolarin Samuel; Adewale Akinterinwa; Olusola Oke; Ohunyeye Felix; Morayo Lebi; Garvey Iyanjan; Dayo Faduyile; Judith Omogoroye; Ifeoluwa Oyedele and Okunjimi John.

The national leadership of the party, chaired by Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, had declared a “direct mode” as the option for electing the governorship flag-bearer in the state.

Earlier before the commencement of the exercise, a seven-man committee headed by the Kogi State governor, Ahmed Usman Ododo, had assured the aspirants of a credible and transparent election. But despite the assurance, four of the aspirants kicked and demanded the cancellation of the exercise.

The aggrieved aspirants – Wale Akinterinwa, Olusola Oke, Olugbenga Edema and Dayo Faduyile accused Ododo’s committee of perpetrating fraud in the exercise.  They asked the embattled national chairman of the party, Ganduje to remove Ododo or cancel the primary.

The aggrieved aspirants explained that they no longer trusted the ability of the Kogi governor to conduct a credible and transparent exercise.

Speaking to journalists, the aggrieved aspirants, led by Olugbenga Edema, warned that the action of the committee, if not properly handled, might affect the outcome of the governorship poll slated for November 16.

He alleged that the committee, headed by Mr Ododo, refused to send materials meant for the primary to his Mahin Ward II in Ilaje Local Government, saying the exercise was being shielded to favour an unnamed aspirant.

Also speaking, Wale Akinterinwa called for the immediate replacement of Ododo, noting that he was not ready to accept the outcome of the election if the Kogi governor continued to take charge of the exercise.

On his part, Oke said he did not get the materials for the election in the southern and northern senatorial districts of the state.

Reacting, Governor Ododo said the complaints of the aggrieved aspirants were noted by the committee.

The exercise recorded some hitches and violence at wards 1, Stella Maris College in Okitipupa Local Government Area, ward 8, ward 10 and ward 11 in Akure, the state capital.

The violence occurred when supporters of contesters stormed the wards.

In the wards in Akure, the state capital, one of the party members, Yinka Akosile was attacked and macheted by suspected political thugs at Ijomu/Obanla ward 4.

It was gathered that the victim was ordered to leave the polling unit before he was attacked by suspected political thugs. Party members were also allegedly beaten and their clothes torn into shreds.

During the exercise, a senior journalist in the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Tayo Ikujuni, was allegedly attacked and brutalised by the state commissioner for youths and sports development, Saka Yusuf-Ogunleye.

Ikujuni was in Oba-Ile in the Akure North Local Government Area when he was allegedly attacked by Yusuf-Ogunleye.

Narrating his ordeal, he alleged that the commissioner hit his hand, collected his phone and threw it away.

Meanwhile, the Ondo chapter of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) has condemned the “assault” on the journalist.

The NUJ described the alleged physical assault on the senior journalist as “barbaric and unacceptable.”

But in his reaction, the commissioner denied assaulting the journalist, saying he only requested for his identity card.

Meanwhile, Governor Aiyedatiwa has commended members of the APC in the state for participating in Saturday’s primary election.

The governor, who exercised his franchise at Ugbo ward 4 at the Obenla area of Ilaje Local Government Area, affirmed his commitment to uphold the principles of transparency and fairness in electing the flag-bearer of the party.

Daily Trust on Sunday gathered that Aiyedatiwa was already in an early lead to emerge as the candidate of the party for the November 16 governorship election.

At the time of filing this report, results from various wards revealed that the incumbent governor was on the verge of emerging as the party’s flag-bearer for the November 16 governorship election in the state.

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