The governorship primary of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ekiti State was suspended indefinitely amidst violence and protests that broke out at the Oluyemo Kayode Stadium in Ado Ekiti where the election held.
Trouble started when agents of some of the aspirants complained that the electoral process was being manipulated.
This paved the way for some thugs to attack the ballot boxes and smashed it to the ground to empty the ballot papers.
The security agencies, which were caught unawares, had a difficult time bringing the situation under control.
Agents of some strong contenders accused the security agencies of allegedly compromising the process in favour of former governor Kayode Fayemi.
They alleged that an agent to Fayemi, Mr. Samuel Abejide, was writing the serial numbers of ballot papers to authenticate who delegates voted for.
Only delegates from four local governments had concluded voting when the crisis erupted.
The protesters threw sachet water at the crowd and also chanted derisive songs against Fayemi.
Before the primary started, there was an allegation that one of the leading aspirants camped delegates in his home country for two days and brought them directly to the venue thereby denying other aspirants access to them.
There was also a rumour that each of the delegates got between N200,000 and N300,000 to buy their votes.
Sensing that the atmosphere had become charged, the Chairman of the Election Committee and Governor of Nasarawa State, Umar Al-Makura, quickly went into an emergency closed-door meeting with all the aspirants at about 4:53 pm.
In the ensuing pandemonium, delegates started leaving the venue in droves.
Security agencies also arrested one man for allegedly trying to grab the ballot box.
The Director-General of the Babafemi Ojudu Campaign Organisation, Chief Ranti Adebisi, complained that the process had been heavily compromised.
“The guideline stipulated that each aspirant can only bring in four supporters, but Fayemi brought many. His agents, including operatives of the Department of State Services, were issuing cards to delegates to fill when they vote for him so that they can later come for the money he promised them.
“I contested against Fayemi in 2007 and I know what I am talking about. The process has been compromised. Even Fayemi has been bragging around that he is a friend to Al –Makura, so we are disappointed that this could happen,” he said.
Also, an APC chieftain, Mr. Femi Afolabi, alleged that the process was been compromised by some security agencies, whom he accused of dictating who they should vote for after authentication.
But Fayemi’s agent, Abejide, said it was a conspiracy against the minister that led to the spurious allegations. He described those peddling the rumour as enemies of APC.
“It was a proviso that if you are a delegate who can’t read and write, you can call any of the agents. When they saw that I was the one being called, they started feeling the heat and they were determined to disrupt it,” he said.
After the emergency meeting, which ended at about 6:30pm, the aspirants and Al-Makura quietly left the venue of the primary.
But one of the aspirants and a former Speaker of the Ekiti State House of Assembly, Femi Bamisile, told journalists that it was resolved at the meeting that the primary should be suspended.
He said, “The primary was going on smoothly but at about three hours into the exercise, some miscreants disrupted the exercise. The committee will meet the national leadership in Abuja and a new date will be communicated for the primary.”
Another aspirant and a former member of House of Representatives, Bimbo Daramola, confirmed the decision.
Dramola said, “There was an issue somewhere about the exercise and an observation about sharp practices that had compromised the process, which led to the protest. The feeling was that the process should be suspended to avoid a bloodshed.”
Fayemi in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media, Mr. Yinka Oyebode, condemned the disruption of the exercise by thugs believed to be working for some aspirants.
He said that the party didn’t deserve the ridicule which the shameful act of the hoodlums subjected it to.
He described the disruption of the election as the height of desperation on the part of some aspirants, “who having seen defeat staring them in the face, conspired together to ensure that the exercise was not concluded.”
Fayemi said the aspirants resorted to violence and destruction, having realised that he was already in a clear lead in the five local governments that had cast their votes.
He said, “It is quite painful seeing some desperate elements trying so much to rubbish the party we all laboured to build to national reckoning, out of share lust for power.
“If the quest for political position is to serve, then one wonders why the desperation being displayed by the likes of Femi Ojudu and Bimbo Daramola.
“Certainly the conduct of these desperate aspirants falls short of the minimum standards expected of anyone that professes progressive ideals.”
Also Speaking, the Media Aide to former Governor Segun Oni, Mr. Steve Alabi, said he was shocked that a free and fair election could be disrupted.
“We were shocked that a peaceful process like that was disrupted. The security agencies should fish out the people responsible and prosecute them,” he said.