The Youth Party has said there was no level playing field in the just concluded local government election in Lagos State.
The president of the party, Tomiwa Aladekomo, said this on Sunday while addressing journalists on the irregularities they observed in Saturday’s election in the state.
Mr Aladekomo said some of the supporters of the party were disenfranchised because polling units were moved to intimidating places such as the Palace of Oba Elegushi at Lekki-Ikate.
Thousands of Lagosians on Saturday voted representatives for councillorship and local government chairmanship positions across all the 20 local governments and 37 LCDAs in the state.
The election, which was marred by low turnout of voters, had the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) win several seats.
Although election results for some LGAs are yet to be announced, APC won in Badagry, Epe, Shomolu, Bariga, Kosofe, Surulere and other areas.
‘Suppression of Votes’
The Youth Party leadership said votes in the Saturday election were suppressed due to late arrival of materials and other irregularities.
“We were excluded from all processes leading to the election. Supporters that registered to vote after 2018 were excluded from election by administrative fiat.
“Our votes were suppressed by the late arrival of voting materials, leading many of our voters to leave the polling units without having cast their votes. Materials arrived at 3:15pm for polls that closed at 3pm in some cases,” Mr Aladekomo said.
He added that votes were cast in non-designated locations and inaccessible places including a Royal Palace.
“For emphasis, the election in Lekki-Ikate was deeply flawed. Our supporters were unable to access the polling booth because 6 polling units in Ikate were moved to the Palace of Oba Elegushi. Specifically, polling unit 03 to 08 were moved to the palace thereby disenfranchising our supporters,” the party leader said.
Mr Aladekomo said despite that there was no level playing field, their party won comfortably in eight polling units “by a landslide.”
He, however, did not provide details of the polling units where his party won.
“Despite all of these challenges, we presented capable and inspiring candidates, who campaigned vigorously and made their presence felt at the voting booth.
“We are proud of our candidates, the campaigns they ran and our efforts at the elections, and grateful for the support of all of you who are passionate about building a better Nigeria and the expansion of the democratic space,” he said.
The party also accused adhoc staff of the Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission (LASIEC) of colluding with party agents and political associates to rig the election.
Ayo Adio, a member of the party, said the “shameless rigging” by APC was captured in some polling units, with videos and pictures circulated.
He made reference to the video of a woman caught voting on several ballot papers at one of the polling units in Lagos.
“There are significant issues with Nigeria’s voting processes, especially for Local Government Elections and many of them were reflected in yesterday’s election.
“In the three polling units at Igbokusu, our agents were harassed, threatened and chased away from their polling stations where ballots were stuffed and people voted multiple times with the collusion of LASIEC officials and the police.
“The kind of rigging and violence deployed in these polling units should embarrass the commission especially with the shameful videos of the rigging currently circulating the media space,” the party said.
Mr Aladekomo said the worst scenario recorded in the Saturday election was moving collation centres without notice to a different location where members of the party were harassed and intimidated.
“The Youth Party will continue to fight vigorously, at the polling booth and in courts of law, to enforce the rights of Nigerians to participate in the democratic space,” the party leader said.
He added that they have confidence in the leadership of LASIEC, headed by a retired Chief Judge of Lagos State, Ayotunde Phillips, and the party is sure the irregularities will be looked into.
The party urged the commission to cancel election results of areas where electoral malpractices were recorded.
“There is no way Justice Philips will tolerate the conduct of many of her staff who did several things to embarrass the Commission. We therefore call on her to cancel the elections in Igbokusu and Ikate where the elections were massively and shamelessly rigged.
“Another election should be conducted in Lekki Phase as well to redeem the credibility of the poll, We call for fresh elections in the affected polling units and urge the Commission to do everything possible to ensure that the conduct is free and fair,” Mr Aladekomo said.