Ekiti State Governor Ayo Fayose and the Vice Chancellor of the Federal University, Oye-Ekiti (FUOYE), Prof. Kayode Soremekun on Friday traded words over alleged plot to rig the July 14 governorship election.
Fayose alleged that Soremekun has lent himself to be used by ruling party in Nigeria, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) by recruiting students of his institution to serve as ad hoc staff at the poll rather than youth corps members.
The governor alleged that Soremekun is a card-carrying member of the APC and a close ally of the party’s governorship candidate in the forthcoming election, Dr. Kayode Fayemi. He alleged that the VC had rigged elections for the APC in the past.
Fayose who spoke with reporters in Ado-Ekiti on Friday alleged that over 2,000 FUOYE students had been registered as ad hoc staff under Soremekun’s watch and allegedly ordered to supply bank details of their close relations so that payments would not be directly linked to them.
But Soremekun who denied involvement in any plot to rig the forthcoming election described Fayose’s allegation as a “blatant falsehood” said INEC is the agency in charge of recruiting ad hoc staff for the purpse of elections.
The Ogun State born university administrator who also denied being an APC card-carrying member said this would not be the first time that Fayose had attempted to blackmail him.
The FUOYE boss said Ekiti governor had attacked him over his refusal to do assist his (Fayose’s) party (PDP) at the September 2016 Edo State governorship election where he (Soremekun) served as the chief returning officer.
Soremekun also recalled that Fayose had cried to the whole world that he (Soremekun) would be used as the chief returning officer for the November 2016 Ondo State governorship election and released his phone number to the public to occupy his line adding that he did not serve in that capacity eventually as the governor had alleged.
Fayose said: “The idea behind this plot is to recruit APC members from neighbouring States, arm them with FUOYE students Identity Cards and use them as INEC Presiding and Returning Officers to perfect the planned rigging of the election. This will fail.”
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“Today, we are beginning to receive signals to the effect that clandestine moves are being made to subvert the will of Ekiti people.
With the failure of their “Ondo Option”, other evil means are now being devised.
“Despite that we have over 9,000 Youth Corps members in Ekiti State and it has been the general practice to engage the NYSC members in elections across the country, the APC in collusion with INEC have asked that students of FUOYE be recruited as INEC ad-hoc staff for the election, instead of youth corps members.
“We are in possession of an Internal Memorandum from the office of the Dean of Students Affairs, FUOYE seeking registration of students of the University as INEC Presiding and Returning Officers for the Election.
“As I speak, over 2,000 supposed FUOYE students have been registered; with a curious condition that they should provide Bank Account details of their close relations, apparently to avoid tracing any payment into their own accounts.
“The question is; with over 9,000 Youth Corps members in Ekiti State, what is the need for FUOYE students in an election that is holding in less than 2,200 polling units?
“Our counsel is that parents, guardians and families of FUOYE students should prevail on their wards to shun this Greek gift and avoid being used by desperate politicians.
“INEC, too, must come clean on this. The electoral umpire must tel the public the rationale behind the plot to jettison Youth Corps members for supposed FUOYE students.”
Soremekun fired back: “What Governor Ayodele Fayose has accused me of is a blatant falsehood. In a post colonial setting like Nigeria and especially Ekiti State, elections are like war and in any war, the truth is usually the first casualty.
“Having said that, am I the one to recruit students for elections or the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
“I am not in charge of recruiting adhoc staff for INEC, they are the one in charge of that. Politics is the only industry in Ekiti land here.
“I also heard that governor Fayose said that two days ago (Wednesday) I was in Abuja with ex Governor Fayemi on this same matter.
“But again, I have concrete proof to the effect that two days ago I was in Oye trying to put down the fire occasioned by student’s unrest. You know about this and it was even in the papers.
“So, how could I have been in Oye and in Abuja at the same time. Let me also say that this is not the first time that Governor Fayose would be treating me like this.
“In the run up to the last Ondo governorship election, you will recall that Governor Fayose said I would be the returning officer foe INEC wanted for the election and that I had a rigging template because I was the returning officer in Edo State.
“It is true I was the returning officer then but the loser of that Edo election went to the court, the tribunal, Appeal and Supreme Courts and he lost.
“As much as possible politicians should not try to drag me to their mess. Governor Fayose will win or lose based on his prior performances in office.”