AHEAD of Osun state governorship election slated for August 9, Nigerian troops have put the southwest state of Osun in a virtual lockdown some 48 hours before a widely watched and high-stakes governorship election is scheduled to hold on Saturday.
It is reported that Nigeria’s deputy Defense Minister, Musiliu Obanikoro, has deployed a heavy contingent of soldiers to the state in a move that some candidates interpret as an attempt to intimidate voters opposed to Iyiola Omisore, the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Mr. Omisore, who was a senator, is running against incumbent Governor Rauf Aregbesola of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
APC officials in the state have accused soldiers deployed to Osun State of putting several of the party’s key officials and operatives under virtual house arrest while officials of the PDP are allowed to have a field day with plans to rig Saturday’s election.
Speaking to SaharaReporters from an undisclosed location, Rotimi Makinde, an APC member of the House of Representatives representing Ife constituency, said he and other party members feared for their lives.
Photos obtained by correspondents of
SaharaReporters show that soldiers have been placed in strategic locations throughout the state.
Brigadier-General Aliyu Momoh, the commander of the Nigerian Army’s 32nd artillery brigade in Akure, the capital of Ondo State, and Ballah Nasarawa, an Assistant Inspector General of Police, have been deployed to Osun State ostensibly to oversee security issues. Mr. Nasarawa was the same officer who coordinated police activity in Ekiti State during the gubernatorial election held on June 16 and won by the PDP candidate, Ayo Fayose, a former governor. Several APC party officials in Ekiti were rounded up, held under house arrest, or physically harassed in the last few days before that election.
Our sources disclosed that two police helicopters had arrived in Osun carrying heavily armed mobile policemen. The police officers and many soldiers were seen patrolling the streets of the Osun State capital of Osogbo, wearing what resembled ski masks.
An election monitor in the state told
SaharaReporters that she was disturbed by the increasing use of the army and police to intimidate non-PDP officials during elections. “It’s a pity that a time when Boko Haram is gaining more ground in the northeastern parts of Nigeria, unhindered, the Nigerian government is drafting heavy numbers of soldiers to election duties where they often frighten voters and officials that do not belong to the ruling party at the center,” said the monitor, adding that she and other election observers would document and report any irregularities in Saturday’s polls