By James Sowole
As political parties are preparing frantically towards the Saturday bye-election into Ilaje/Ese Odo Federal Constituency in Ondo State, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), yesterday, called on the security agencies, particularly military personnel that may be deploy to maintain neutrality and professional ethics in discharging their duties.
The chairman of the PDP Ondo State, Mr Ebenezer Alabi, made the call in Akure at a news briefing.
Alabi, who was flanked by other officials of the party, said the call became imperative in view of the alleged role played by the military in previous elections in the area.
Highlighting some of the biased roles allegedly played by the military personnel in past elections in the area, Alabi said military personnel in the past aided the ruling Labour Party (LP) to the detriment of other parties.
“Our experiences with security agencies, particularly the military in the previous elections in connivance with desperate politicians is sad, we considered it necessary this time around to take every necessary steps towards protecting our interest by ensuring that a level playing field is created for all contending parties in the election,”Alabi stated.
Reacting swiftly, the LP Chairman, Chief Dele Akinyele, said the PDP is only crying wolf and expressing fears of losing the election.
Akinyele said it is the PDP controlled federal government that controls the security agencies and not the state government controlled LP
According to him, the LP had always won the elections in the local governments because of the impressive performance of Governor Olusegun Mimiko, adding that the opposition should provide evidence of plans to manipulate the election or keep quiet.
Alabi said it was however surprising that despite letters written by the party detailing its fears, the PDP had discovered plans to train some militants that would operate like military personnel to work for the interest of the LP.
“As a party, the PDP in Ondo State is committed to the principle of free and fair election, anchored on the principle of one man one vote, one woman one vote and one youth one vote, which is also in tandem with the reform agenda of Mr. President.
“We are not asking anybody to rig elections for us, we are merely asking for a level playing field and the neutrality of military men on election duties.
“We equally called on all authorities having any role to play in the election to do so in an open, unbiased and neutral manner. These organisations include INEC, Police, Army, Navy, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), State Security Service (SSS) and others,” he said.