Gentlemen of the press, welcome to this media parley.
We are EKITI PATRIOTIC FRONT (EPF), a non-profit civic hub of change makers committed to the promotion of democratic governance, human rights and civic engagement in Ekiti State.
This press parley becomes expedient because of the barbarous, horrendous and unsavoury state of affairs in the build-up to the gubernatorial election billed to hold in Ekiti State on Saturday, 18 June 2022. It becomes more expedient being not unaware of the indispensable roles the media play in the proper functioning of the society.
We are not unaware the media are essential to democracy, and a democratic election is impossible without media. A free and fair election is not only about the freedom to vote and the knowledge of how to cast a vote, but also about a participatory process where voters engage in public debate and have adequate information about parties, policies, candidates and the election process itself in order to make informed choices. Furthermore, media acts as a crucial watchdog to democratic elections, safeguarding the transparency of the process. Indeed, a democratic election with no media freedom, or stifled media freedom, would be a contradiction.
To begin with gentlemen, we wish to intimate you the happenings in Ekiti in the past few months, of which some of the happenings are not strange to you, sadly. There have been incidents of attacks, intimidation, harassment, abduction and threats to the lives of members, supporters and sympathizers of one of the frontline political parties in the race, the Social Democratic Party (SDP).
The family members, friends and associates of the SDP’s gubernatorial candidate and his running mate, Chief Segun Oni and Mr. Oladipupo Owolabi, respectively, have become endangered species owing to the incessant attacks directed at them by the incumbent APC-led State Government and State-sponsored thugs.
The ruling APC-led government, fully aware of its impending rejection by the Electorates at the upcoming polls as a result of its bad governance and policies, the ruling party has resorted to arm-twisting, bullying and deployment of thugs to harass into submission, supporters of the SDP in the state.
Since the commencement of campaigns, APC thugs have been launching gruesome attacks against the law-abiding and peace-loving supporters of the SDP whose sole mandate and preoccupation is to sell the SDP’s manifestos and developmental programmes to the Electorates.
On 6 April 2022, there was an assassination attempt at Efon-Alaaye on the SDP’s gubernatorial candidate and his running mate, Chief Segun Oni and Mr. Oladipupo Owolabi, respectively, where they have gone to pay courtesy call on their party’s supporters in the community; they were able to graciously escape the attack by whiskers.
Going further, on 18 May 2022, the convoy of the SDP’s Deputy Governorship candidate, Mr. Oladipupo Owolabi, was attacked in his hometown, Ado-Ekiti, while a vehicle in his convoy was hijacked.
As at today, more than thirty (30) houses and properties belonging to prominent members and canvassers of the SDP have been vandalized and destroyed in several towns, communities and villages across Ekiti State, namely: Ayetoro-Ekiti in Ido/Osi Local Government Area of Ekiti State; Efon-Alaaye in Efon Local Government Area of Ekiti State; Ado-Ekiti in Ado Local Government Area of Ekiti State, Ikole-Ekiti in Ikole Local Government Area of Ekiti State, to mention but a few.
In the same vein, about one hundred and fifty (150) members of the SDP in several other communities and villages including women and their children can no longer sleep peacefully in their homes for fear of being attacked.
We make haste to say that the ongoing proliferation of arms and unprovoked attacks if left unchecked are capable of escalating to the level of truncating not only the June 18, 2022 Ekiti gubernatorial election but also the 2023 general elections. The June 18 election in Ekiti will be a litmus test for the Nigeria’s 2023 general election.
The palpable fear amongst residents of Ekiti State right now is the fate that may befall them few days to the election, on D-Day and after the election, especially after the election, when the Ekiti Electorates have unequivocally spoken with their votes in favour of the SDP at the polls.
In the light of the above, the EPF made its resolve to petition the United Nations to intervene, and save the situation in Ekiti, one of the States making up the federating unit of its Member-State, Nigeria.
The petition has since been submitted, while some other international organizations were copied, including the Government of Nigeria and the Office of the National Security Adviser, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), etc. The major actors, perpetrators and masterminds of this dastardly acts were mentioned, with our demands/requests ably prayed for.
It may interest you to note that the pictorial evidence of the attacks and destructions wrought on some SDP members in Ekiti State in the past few months were gotten and were attached in a petition to the United Nations as annexures.
As said in a quote routinely attributed to Edmund Burke that “the only thing necessary for triumph of evils is for good men to do nothing”. At Ekiti Patriotic Front, we feel we should not stand in aloofness to watch that political wars, arms proliferation and carnage are degenerating to the extent that electing/choosing leaders who will better the lots of the people with governance cannot be made possible again.
The social contract theory postulates the view that person’s moral and/or political obligations are dependent upon a contract or agreement among them to form the society they live.
People must be free to choose and elect who they want to govern them. The grundnorm of Nigeria – The 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) – stipulates the rights of Nigerians, so also does the United Nations Charter and Universal Declaration of Human Rights, of which Nigeria is a signatory, entrench the rights of individuals, chief of which is freedom of choice; freedom to elect leaders without intimidation, harassment, threats and compulsion.
Cases of electoral violence, vote-buying and ruling political parties influencing elections are so much prevalent in African continent, particularly in Nigeria.
Collectively, we must continue to take concerted action to address these challenges. Ekiti Patriotic Front calls for free, fair and credible election in Ekiti on June 18, 2022 and the Nigeria’s general election in 2023.
Gentlemen of the press, we thank you for coming. Please accept the assurances of our highest esteem.
Tope Idowu Alamposer.
Abegunde Oluwayomi Moses.