There was uproar on Tuesday at the Afe Babalola Civic Centre, Ado Ekiti, venue of a town hall meeting of stakeholders on the Ekiti State governorship election.
This was after the governor, Ayodele Fayose, openly confronted security agencies in the state, accusing them of plans to intimidate and arrest members of his party ahead of the election.
Mr Fayose frontally told the state Commissioner of Police, Ahmed Bello, and the Director of State Security Services in the state, Promise Iheanacho, who were in attendance of deploying operatives to Ekiti with the purpose of rigging the election slated for July 14.
The governor said the operatives were deployed to carry out harassment and arrest of members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as a ploy to compromise the process in favour of the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Kayode Fayemi.
The town hall which was organised by the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room, was also attended by officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Mr Fayose specifically alleged that the former Chief Security Officer to Mr Fayemi while he was governor, Hakeem Abiola, and his former Aide De’ Camp, Adeyemi Ajayi, had been redeployed to Ekiti State for the purpose of the election.
The governor further accused the SSS director of acting like a chieftain of the APC by ordering the arrest and detention of PDP members and some teachers.
He also tendered video evidence to INEC commissioners at the event to state alleged pre-loading of the smart card reader by a political party in Akure, Ondo State capital.
“Free and fair election can only come when security did the right thing. On the day of election, I want all my security details to be withdrawn. But let me say that DSS have started arresting people but this will be resisted,” Mr Fayose said.
“You can’t be expecting a free, fair poll when people are being harassed and detained illegally and a police officer and DSS operative attached to a former governor were secretly drafted to head a detachment of force comprising about 63 men.”
The governor’s revelation created tension at the venue, as members of the PDP at the hall loudly voiced their displeasure with the security agencies.
They also shouted at the SSS director, as she made several efforts to explain the deployment and respond to the allegations.
Members of the council of traditional rulers in the state were also not left out as they were forceful in demanding that the two security operatives should be sent out of the state in the interest of peace.
Mrs Ihenacho, who eventually found a chance to reply, confirmed that the former CSO to Mr Fayemi is in Ekiti, but is not a leader of a unit as alleged by the governor.
Her statement further provoked an outrage from members of the PDP and the audience before Mr Fayose calmed the people.
In the ensuing contention, the Commissioner of Police quickly intervened, saying any police officer that had political affinity with any of the interested party would not be used for the election.
“I have built a career going to 35 years in the police and I won’t want anybody to bring me down, not even any politician or even your Excellency, Dr. Fayose will ask me to rig election and I will comply,” said Mr Bello.
“We are going to give equal opportunities to all the parties and the issue you have raised will be looked into, because there are procedure we must follow, even if they are going to be redeployed.”
However, the INEC Commissioner in charge of Ekiti, Oyo and Osun States, Solomon Soyebi, assured that the election on July 14 would be free and transparent.
Clement Nwakwo, who is chairman of the civil society group, said the essence of the meeting was to extract assurances from INEC and security agencies that the coming election would be credible.
“What we have got from INEC and security are reassuring that we will get free and fair poll in Ekiti,” he said.
“We are going to hold INEC accountable for whatever happens and that is why it is good for the security to be helpful and we know they won’t default in this regard.”