Last Saturday’s local government election in Lagos State, southwest Nigeria, has come and gone but its results have continued to attract controversies.
A major feature of the election which was clearly demonstrated by Lagosians was voter apathy. Observers of the exercise had expected that voters would troop out in large numbers to elect those that would lead them at the grassroots but the reverse was the case.
Political Platform gathered that the low turnout of voters was as a result of the loss of confidence in those running the affairs of the council areas. Some councillors were said not to be abreast of their constitutional responsibilities while some of the council chairmen did not fair better.
In some local government areas, party agents resorted to ringing bells to urge residents to come out and vote. Some agents went as far as going into apartments and knocking on doors to sensitize voters for the elections.
Apart from the voters’ apathy, other observed irregularities almost marred the credibility of the election. A vivid example is the delay by the Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission, LASIEC, in releasing the results within 24 hours as promised, which angered aggrieved voters and those in the opposition camp.
48 hours after the exercise, the chairman of the commission, Justice Abdul Fatai Adeyinka(retd), announced that the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, won all the 57 chairmanship seats.
He said the commission announced the result based on the constitutional provision which empowers it to do so within 48 hours after the election.
He charged those who are not satisfied with the results to approach the election tribunal in the state to seek redress.
This development led to pockets of protests in some parts of the state which include Agbado/Oke-odo, Ikoyi-Obalende, Eredo, and Badagry.
The youths in Agbado/Oke-Odo Local Council Development Area and supporters of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in their hundreds stormed the council secretariat early Tuesday and shut it down and refused workers entry into the premises.
The youths blocked the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway, causing traffic gridlock until the police intervened.
They vowed to make the area ungovernable as the PDP candidate, whom they believed won the election was not declared the winner by LASIEC.
Owners of shops in the area quickly closed to avoid being caught in the crisis, while okada operators were not allowed to park in their usual parking space in front of the council.
Not less than 100 policemen from the Agbado/Oke-Odo Police Station were drafted to quell the violence as the youths carried placards, demanding a reversal of the result by LASIEC to ensure peace in the area.
Violence also erupted in Badagry on Tuesday as supporters of the ruling ACN and PDP clashed, causing schools and business activities in the areas to shut down.
Before the commission announced the results on Monday, residents of Badagry claimed that the Returning Officer for Badagry Local Government Area, at about midnight of Saturday, announced a result that showed that the PDP won in the area.
The clash forced residents of Badagry Local Government to abandon the streets, as a team of soldiers surrounded the local government secretariat to prevent it from being set ablaze.
The situation was the same at Ikoyi-Obalende LCDA and at Eredo in Epe division of the state. In Ikoyi-Obalende, there was tension, following the presence of hoodlums in the area. The situation got worse around mid-day last Tuesday, as hoodlums engaged in a free-for all, using broken bottles and other weapons.
Meanwhile, the party had announced that it would contest the result of the elections released by LASIEC.
Speaking on the decision of the party to head for court, the PDP state chairman, Chief Setonji kosheodo, said the ASIEC Chairman is not empowered legally to announce results.
“According to Section 51 and 52 of LASIEC Law, the chairman of the commission has no legal right to announce the results. Even if he has to announce, as a retired Judge of Lagos State, the LASIEC Chairman should not have announced different results when there is video coverage and documents of announcements of results by the returning officers of the commission,â€™â€™ he said.
Kosheodo said the announced results were gross injustice, unprogressive, undemocratic and a slap on the faces of voters in Lagos.
“Our party won in at least four of the local government areas and in 125 wards that we have the results signed by LASIEC officials and ACN agents in the various polling units,â€™â€™ he said.
The party has also called on the State Security Services and the Police to immediately effect the arrest of the LASIEC Chairman, Justice Fatai Adeyinka (retd), Mrs Tokunboh Fatoyinbo and all the LG/LCDA Returning Officers.