Operatives of the Department of State Security on Tuesday night arrested 11 men, believed to be associates of ex-Governor Ayo Fayose, as they thumb-printed ballot papers ahead of the governorship election holding in the state Saturday, witnesses and security officials have confirmed.
The men were arrested at Anisulowo Resort in Are Ekiti, a facility belonging to the Director General of the Fayose Campaign Organisation, Dipo Anisulowo, as they prepared ballot papers they ostensibly planned to use in rigging the election in favour of Mr. Fayose, the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in the election.
This newspaper understands that the security operatives deployed to the state on special election duty swooped on the resort after residents of the town alerted them to the movement of strange materials into the facility.
When the operatives stormed the location, our sources said, 22 men were found sitting around a heap of ballot papers, and other election materials.
Eleven of them were arrested and driven to the SSS headquarters in Ado-Ekiti, the Ekiti state capital, where they are currently being detained. The others reportedly escaped.
Babafemi Ojudu, a Senator, and close associate of Governor Kayode Fayemi (the candidate of the All Progressive Congress in the election) told PREMIUM TIMES the men were arrested hours after “some viligant residents raised the alarm that three planes landed in Akure with ballot papers and other election materials which were later loaded into buses and moved to Ekiti”.
Mr. Fayose and his associates did not respond to PREMIUM TIMES’ requests for comments. The PDP governorship candidate did not answer or return calls, just as Mr. Anisulowo, who leads his campaign. Both individuals are also yet to respond to text messages sent to them.
The SSS Director in Ekiti, a Mr. Tamuno, also did not answer or return calls. He is also yet to reply a text message sent to him.
The arrest of the 11 men came four days after the Nigerian military announced it apprehended three persons with a truck laden with outdated election materials in the state.
The Commander, 32 Artillery Brigade, Akure, Ondo State, Aliyu Momoh, a Brigadier General, said the men were caught moving ballot papers from 2008, 2009 and 2011; Independent National Electoral Commission’s reflective jackets; 2014 INEC rubber stamps and pads.
However, the INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner in the state, Aliyu Pai, later told Punch Newspapers that the materials were waste papers and had been auctioned by INEC.
“It is approved by the National Commission for the company to evacuate the obsolete materials to enable us prepare for the coming election because these are junks that have filled the store,” he said.
“There is an approval by the National Commission. They are known to us and they are in no way connected to this election. They are materials of 2007, 2009 and there is approval for its evacuation.”
The run-up to the June 21 election has been characterised by violent clashes with the major political parties pointing accusing fingers at one another. Matters got to a head about two weeks ago when mobile police officers shot at the governor of the state, Mr. Fayemi, and his supporters during a rally in the state capital, Ado-Ekiti.