Traditional rulers in Ekiti State have cautioned the Federal Government against the deployment of men of the Nigerian Army to the state ahead of the July 14 governorship election.
The deployment of soldiers for the election, they said, may lead to creation of tension and intimidation of opposition parties.
This was the position of monarchs in the state at a meeting held with heads of security agencies and the leadership of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Ado Ekiti, the state capital as part of preparation for the election.
Oba Oluwole Ademolaju, Chairman of the Ekiti State Council of Traditional Rulers, who addressed the gathering, said, “We have learnt that INEC wants to use students instead of the usual corps members; we need to know who should be doing this job; and we want the security agents to be fair in their dealings with everyone in the state.”
He said as traditional rulers, “We don’t have reasons to doubt your (INEC) competence; we want you to prove your competence.”
While asking “INEC to be above board,” he told the security agencies, w to do their job as professionally as possible, be as diligent as possible, be as dispassionate as possible.”
Specifically, the Attah of Ayede, Oba Abdulmumuni Orisagbemi, said the council kicked against deployment of soldiers in the state.
“What we are saying is that we don’t want any unlawful arrests during the election. If you have any issue with anyone, leave it till after the election. We don’t want soldiers in Ekiti, this is an election, not a war.”
Responding, Abdul-Ganiy Raji, Ekiti State Resident Electoral Commissioner, thanked the traditional rulers and urged them to tell their subjects to avoid hate speech.
“They also say a lot of things about us; this is also affecting us too.”
Raji explained that it was the policy of INEC as a body to use staff and students of federal establishments in the state for its operations.
He said, “We are going to partly use electronic gadgets. Our smart card readers are now enhanced. We used them successfully in Ibarapa and not a single fingerprint was rejected. Come with your party agents to monitor our activities. We will be transparent.
“Where there is violence, we will rerun the election. We will not cancel, we will return the following day to conduct the election with full security.”