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Thousands Of Protesters Block INEC Office In Akure, Demand Postponement Of Ondo Polls

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A fresh round of protests has broken out in Akure, the Ondo State Capital, over the substitution of Eyitayo Jegede (SAN) as the candidate of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) over and the delay tactics employed by the Biyi Poroye faction of the party in the State to frustrate proceedings in Court.

Many of the protesters expressed the belief that the substitution of Jegede’s name for Barrister Jimoh Ibrahim is part of a ploy by the ruling All Progressives’ Congress (APC) using the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the slow judicial process and disgruntled elements within PDP to rob Jegede and the party of its chances of electoral success at the polls.

Tuyi Adekanmi, President of the Akure Youth Association, told our correspondents that the protests are taking place because the people are being deprived of the right to elect a candidate of their choice. “How can people be deprived of the right to elect a candidate of their choice in a democracy? We will protest. Jegede is the authentic candidate of the party. He was selected at a primary which INEC monitored. It is not within the power of anybody claiming to be chairman of the State exco of a party to submit any other name as candidate. Many people are angry at being deprived of their choice of candidate. Many people are angry.” he said.

On his part, Akeem Adebanjo, said the manipulation of the judicial system is part of a plan to prevent Jegede from winning the election. “Everyone already knows that Jegede is the candidate to beat. So they are manipulating the courts to prevent Jegede from contesting. How else can you explain the continuous delays? How else can you explain the baseless allegations of corruption against the judges on the panel? Or a SAN withdrawing from the case when given the opportunity to move his motion and asking for time to be given to the client to get a new lawyer? It is a travesty and we will resist it.”

One of the protesters, Bayo Owolabi, re-echoed the call by the Ahmed Makarfi led faction of PDP for the postponement of the elections to allow the courts decide who the candidate of the party is.

According to him, “INEC is a part of this problem. They know that Justice Abang’s order was not given based on the provisions of the law or the decisions of the Supreme Court. Yet they removed Jegede’s name. Having been part of the problem INEC must postpone the elections to give the Courts time to sort out this issue. INEC is also a party to all the suits and is aware of the delay tactics being used by Biyi Poroye and his gang to prevent justice. INEC is aware that the Court of Appeal has just postponed matter sine die. It will be unconscionable to hold elections in these circumstances. It will be a violation of our rights to participate elect a governor of our choice.”

A few weeks ago, INEC has substituted Jegede’s name on its register of candidates of the parties with Ibrahim’s name further to an order given by Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court.

Jegede’s attempts to appeal the matter at the Court of Appeal have been stalled by allegations of corruption and breach of oaths of office levelled against the two Appeal panels instituted by the President of the Court of Appeal to speedily determine the matter.

Last week, the second panel led by Justice Ibrahim Salauwa postponed delivery of judgment indefinitely after Biyi Poroye and others had filed a petition against the Justices alleging various acts of corruption and breach of oaths of office. A motion was also filed at the Supreme Court seeking for stay of proceedings at the Court of Appeal. All 3 judges were named as co-respondents in that motion.

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