The senate president, Dr. Bukola Saraki and the governor of Kwara State, Mr. Abdulfatah Ahmed have both reacted to the Saturday’s by-election in the state won by the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Both politicians, members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) alleged that the process was skewed against their party.
The APC candidate, Raheem Olawuyi, was on Saturday declared the winner of the Ekiti / Irepodun / Isin / Oke – Ero federal constituency by-election held across the four councils in Kwara State.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said Olawuyi polled 21, 236 to emerge winner.
The returning officer for the election, Prof. Abimbola Adesoji of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, while declaring the result at the Irepodun local government secretariat in Omu -Aran, said the APC candidate defeated his closest rival, Saheed Damilare of the PDP, who polled 18,095.
Abimbola declared Mr Olawuyi winner of the election having scored the highest number of votes.
Other contestants in the election were Femi Ona- Ara of Labour Party, Ajadi Olayemi of Peoples Party of Nigeria as well as Olaniyan Ayorinde of Unity Party of Nigeria.
The returning officer gave the total number of total registered voters as collated as 168, 707, accredited voters as 41, 185, the total valid votes as 39, 599, total number of rejected votes as 1, 331 and the total number of votes cast as 40, 930.
But Saraki and Ahmed have alleged that the elections were marred by intimidation of voters by security officials.
In a statement on Saturday, Ahmed described the House of Representatives by-election as a contest between the PDP and security agents rather than among political parties although he expressed confidence in his party’s victory.
A statement by his senior special assistant on media and communications, Mr. Muyideen Akorede, stated that reports available to the governor from the four local government areas in which elections were held indicated wide-spread harassment, arrests and intimidation of PDP members and supporters by security personnel.
He, however, commended PDP members and supporters across the federal constituency for standing their ground and defying the threats posed by the security agents by coming out to exercise their franchise at the risk of harm and arrest.
He said the heightened fear and intimidation orchestrated against PDP members and supporters and abetted by security agents led to voter apathy and poor turn-out in the areas that are traditional strong-holds of the party.
Similarly, Saraki alleged that it was the first time that elections in Kwara State will be held under such charged, tensed and militarised conditions, adding that they are signs of things to come in 2019.
“We had INEC officials complaining about their own safety — and PDP supporters were brazenly intimidated, which resulted in low turnout of voters,” he tweeted on his verified Twitter page.
“The public should note that today’s #KwaraByElection was simply between PDP and security agents plus APC. This was due to the heavy deployment of police, soldiers and other security agents who gathered to support APC and harass PDP leaders and supporters.
“It is important to reiterate that ahead of the 2019 elections, such open displays of intimidation are sending wrong signals. Our democracy is being undermined with this misuse of our nation’s security apparatus. #KwaraByElection.”
Political commentators say the election is a test of the two major political parties’ strength in Kwara ahead of the 2019 elections.
Ahmed is gunning for a senatorial seat upon completion of his eight-year tenure as governor while Saraki, who represents Kwara central in the upper chamber, also hopes to return to the Senate.
Both men recently defected from the ruling APC to join the opposition PDP about four years after they defected from the PDP ahead of the 2015 general elections.