TRADITIONAL rulers in Ekiti State have demanded for the absence of unlawful arrests and deployment of soldiers during the coming governorship election in the state.
They made the demand when they met with heads of security agencies in the state and the leadership of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on the need for a free, fair and credible exercise on July 14.
The monarchs, under the aegis of Ekiti State Council of Traditional Rulers, had engaged the Resident Electoral Commissioner in the state, Professor Abduganiyy Raji; the state Commissioner of Police, Director of State Security, commandant of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) in the state in the parley and made demands of the various agencies.
At the meeting, hosted by the Ewi of Ado Ekiti, Oba Rufus Adeyemo Adejugbe and chaired by the chairman of the Council of Traditional Rulers, Oba Oluwole Ademolaju, the traditional rulers expressed their fears as the election approaches.
The Attah of Ayede, Oba Abdulmumuni Orisagbemi, while addressing the gathering, said: “What we are saying is that we don’t want any unlawful arrests during the election. There should be no unnecessary arrest of anyone. 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.”
The monarchs, who showed up for the meeting in their numbers and from all parts of the state, told their visitors that “we have talked to our people on the need for peace before, during and after the election,” saying “we could gather because there is peace in the state and we have called you so as to inform, advise and ask questions.”
Addressing the gathering, the Ewi, Oba Ademolaju 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 your dealings with all in the state.
“We don’t have reasons to doubt your competence; we want you to prove your competence. We want INEC to be aboveboard. To the security agencies, we know that your job is herculean but we urge you to do your job as professionally as possible, be as diligent as possible and be as dispassionate as possible.”
The Elemure of Emure, Oba Emmanuel Adebayo, explained that “there should be no frivolous arrests, that is what the monarchs have agreed on” and charged the security agents to protect their names and reputations.
Responding, the Ekiti REC, Professor Raji, thanked the traditional rulers and urged them to tell their subjects to avoid or reduce hate speech.
“They say a lot of things about us. This is also affecting us too,” he noted.
Raji explained that it was a policy of INEC to use personnel and students of tertiary institutions for its operations.
“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, the Ekiti REC said.
“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,” he added.
Also responding, the state police commissioner, who was represented by Mr Ede Ayuba, a Deputy Commissioner of Police, noted that politicians were the ones who cause trouble and gave the assurance that the security agencies would be professional in their conduct.
Also speaking, the DSS, represented by Mr J. W. Usanga, said as a proactive agency, the DSS would do all within its powers to ensure that there was peace before, during and after the election.
About 40 monarchs from the 16 local government areas of the state attended the meeting.