INEC Accuses Musiliu Obaniko Of Soiling His Hands In Ondo By-Election
The Independent National Electoral Commission has accused the minister of State for Defence, Musiliu Obanikoro, of soiling his hand in the by-election conducted in Ondo state last week.
This was stated by the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Akin Orebiyi during a stakeholder meeting called by the commission in Ondo State to find a way forward in the election which was earlier declared inconclusive.
The meeting, which began at 12pm at the INEC office at Alagbaka and attended by political parties and the security agencies, began smoothly with the respective parties stating their positions on the outcome of the election.
It almost degenerated into fisticuffs as the resident commissioner, hinted that the commission had a report which showed that the Minister of State for Defence, Musiliu Obanikoro, had “his hands soiled” during the election.
While responding to the contributions of the parties, Orebiyi blamed politicians for the crisis witnessed during the Ilaje/Ese-Odo by-election, saying that it was their refusal to adhere strictly to the code of conduct of the election that resulted in the inconclusiveness of the election.
He explained that besides the Electoral Act, INEC was also guided by its guidelines that provided for conditions under which an election could be declared inconclusive.
The REC also noted that election did not take place in about 59 units, with over 28,000 registered voters.
Commenting on the conduct of politicians, Orebiyi said, “We are aware of how Obanikoro even soiled his hands obstructing the electoral process. You can quote me anywhere. You can quote me anywhere…”
Members of the PDP at the meeting were angered by the statement, saying they took exceptions to the assertions of the REC.
But Orebiyi, not done yet, said, “One of our officers was almost lynched by the people because they mistook him for Obanikoro. We know what happened and you can quote me anywhere.”
The attendant rowdiness saw members of the PDP and the Labour Party almost engaged in a fight as one trying to outdo the other in a shouting match.
As soon the dust settled, Orebiyi added, “Let the Minister of State for Defence defend himself let him defend himself.”
He noted that politicians did not only put the lives of the electoral officials at risk, but also forced them to collect money.
“One of them brought and showed us N8,000 he was forced to collect,” he said.
Orebiyi said that it appeared that politicians were not learning from the process.
The State Chairman of the People for Democratic Change, Mr. Lawrence Oyesanmuyi, in his submission, had called on the INEC and the security agencies to investigate the role played by Obanikoro and his use of fake soldiers during the election.
He also noted that his party would boycott the supplementary election, unless INEC was prepared to fund the parties for the poll.
The Chairman of the PDP in Ese-Odo Local Government Area, one of the councils where the election was held, Mr. Solomon Tunyan, explained how the election was disrupted by armed youths.
He said he was an eyewitness.
While commenting on the role of the Minister of State for Defence, Tunyan said Obanikoro as a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria had the right to visit any part of the country with the full compliment of security for his protection.
He said the allegation that he brought fake soldiers for the election was unfounded, given that he had his military escort when he visited.
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