The All Progressives Congress Chairman in Ekiti State, Chief Olajide Awe, has said the role of the Nigerian Army during the June 22, 2014 governorship election in Ekiti State was “better imagined than experienced”.
The Ekiti APC chair and 14 others yesterday appeared before the Army panel of inquiry investigating the involvement of its officers and soldiers in the 2014/2015 governorship and presidential elections in Ekiti, Osun, Rivers and Akwa-Ibom states, where they gave testimony.
It was gathered that Army officers and personnel, including the now popular Capt. Sagir Koli, who released the audio recording of the alleged plan by the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to rig the Ekiti election, had last week appeared before the panel.
The General Officer Commanding (GOC), 1 Mechanised Division, Kaduna, who is also the President of the panel, Maj-Gen. Adeninyi Oyebade, had on November 9, inaugurated the panel on behalf of the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai.
Gen Oyebade said the Army was deeply concerned about the alleged misconduct of its officers and men before, during and after the elections.
Testifying yesterday, Awe informed the panel that the role of soldiers in the Ekiti governorship election was better imagined because according to him, it was more of a battle between the soldiers and voters.
He alleged that prior to the election, party bigwigs, including former Rivers State Governor Rotimi Amaechi, who were heading to Ekiti through Ondo State for a rally, were prevented by soldiers from entering the state. Edo State Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, who was prepared to also head for the same rally, had his helicopter grounded in Benin on the orders of the powers that be.
Mr. Awe further alleged that over N30 million meant for party agents and election works were seized by some soldiers, whose identity, particularly their name tags, were concealed with black bands.
He said 36,000 security personnel, including soldiers, invaded the state on the eve of the election, harassed and arrested party leaders, members and supporters.
He added that he received phone calls from party loyalists on the day of election, alleging the maltreatment soldiers were meting out to them.
The APC chairman said the whereabouts of the Director-General of the Fayemi Campaign Organisation, Bimbo Daramola, who escaped arrest in Ire, was still unknown even after the election.
Awe told the panel that there was no election in the state, noting that former Governor Kayode Fayemi, however, accepted the outcome of that election for peace to reign in the state.
He said while he objected to the outcome of the polls, Fayemi replied that “look if we say we cannot accept the election result, we will put the lives of our people in danger”.
The APC leader added that “Fayemi accepted the result in the name of peace. Some of this did not go down well with our people. We took the decision to accept the result for the sake of peace in the state”.
In response to a question by Gen. Oyebade if there was a report of killing during the election, Awe said there was none.
He, however, said that in his village, several houses were razed, 15 vehicles destroyed and several people kidnapped.
“Some of these kidnapped victims were later found at Sagamu, Ogun State, with bruises on their bodies.
“Sir, there was no reports of anybody killed, but of robbery, harassment and intimidation”, Awe added.
The APC chieftain also accused operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) and the police of having a hand in the misfortune that befell his party, saying that the “DSS did a lot havoc because its officials were close to the people”.
He explained that while the DSS officials wore hoods to conceal their identities, the soldiers covered their name tags.
His words: “Prior to the June 22, 2014 governorship election in Ekiti State, we were excited when told that the Army will be involved in maintaining peace. A week or so after the soldiers arrived, our expectation was short-lived.
“On Wednesday, we started seeing that things were not as we thought. Thursday, we had a rally where most of our guests, especially party bigwigs were prevented from coming into the state.
“Nearly all major roads in Ekiti were blocked by the military. The stop and search was beyond what it should be. Money meant for the party agents and other logistics were taken by the soldiers”.
The Ekiti APC boss sought the permission of the panel to tender file photo evidence of his claim, which was granted by Gen. Oyebade.
When it came to the turn of the Ekiti State PDP Secretary, Tope Aluko, to testify, he pleaded to be heard behind camera.
The panel members obliged him for security reasons.