No election crisis in the political history of Nigeria has lingered for so long and generated as many controversies as the June 21, 2014 Ekiti State governorship election. The election pitted sitting Governor Kayode Fayemi, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), and Mr Ayodele Fayose, the candidate of the People's Democratic Party (PDP).
The Ekiti State election was like a mirror image of the 1993 presidential election. In that election, the main protagonist was not able to live to fight for his victory. This election is still alive today within the APC insisting that its resolution remains an essential element in the growth and sanitization of democracy in Nigeria.
In what has been described as a magic electoral contest between a man who was impeached over alleged sundry crimes and the United Nations award-winning Governor Fayemi the electoral victory for the former was a new political paradigm in political contest anywhere in the world.
Besides carrying the baggage of moral deficit and shoddy campaign strategy, Mr. Fayose's victory in that election caught political analysts napping. They were unable to come to terms with the political sociology that could have explained preference for a man earlier impeached over alleged crimes.
Mr. Fayemi had a comprehensive campaign itinerary spanning the 177 wards in all the 16 local governments of the State. Mr. Fayose, on the other hand, adopted a guerrilla campaign strategy with no campaign tour plan, Instead he chose to visit towns at random and skipped days before visiting other communities.
At the end of the day, Mr. Fayose did not visit one-quarter of the State. Neither did he have any manifesto to create an election campaign appeal in the few towns he went to. By contrast, Mr. Fayemi was armed with an election campaign manifesto, and could flaunt his achievements in each of the communities across the State.
Mr. Fayose's trump card was the assurance that he would win in all the 16 local governments, insisting that belonging to the mainstream politics at the Federal level would give him victory to enable Ekiti benefit from the Aso Rock largesse.
He also called himself the friend of the poor, but what he would do for the poor, he did not tell them.
With this background of a serious and performing governor and an opponent that had nothing to show to convince the electorate for victory, it was thought that the coast was clear for a landslide victory for Mr. Fayemi.
But few days to the election, signs that Fayose had a trick under his sleeve began to manifest.
In his campaign trail were armed policemen led by Mopol Commander, Mr Gabriel Selekere. Mr. Selekere was the one who led the assault against Governor Fayemi on the streets of Ado-Ekiti. He commanded his men to tear-gas Governor Fayemi and even threatened to "waste" him.
During Mr. Fayemi’s campaign grand finale, Governors Adams Oshiomhole and Rotimi Amaechi of Edo and Rivers States were prevented by security agents from entering Ado-Ekiti to attend the rally.
Prior to the campaign, Mr. Fayemi’s research team had conducted several opinion polls on the expected outcome of the election. Their results supported similar independent polls results conducted by research groups giving victory to Mr.Fayemi in the final tally. These polls created optimism in Mr. Fayemi's camp that election would be an easy victory.
As earlier hinted, this was not without basis, Mr. Fayose had his name in red ink in the hearts of Nigerians, including Ekiti people, over an unedifying past laced with alleged crimes.
But a few days before the election, signs that bookmakers might be wrong in their assertions began to emerge. On June 19, 2014, around 10 A.M., there was a red alert call from Akure Airport by a certain Fayemi sympathiser in the PDP hinting of a comprehensive scheme to rig the election in Mr. Fayose's favour.
On the phone, he told Fayemi's media campaign team consisting of Dimeji Daniel, Wole Olujobi, Hakeem Jamiu, Wale Adeoye, Mojeed Jamiu, Segun Dipe, Ifedayo Sayo, and Tunde Adeleke that two cargo airplanes loaded with INEC materials in crates were in Akure Airport.
Inside the plane was the then-Minister of State for Defence, Musiliu Obanikoro, Police Affairs Minister Jelili Adesiyan, and Senators Iyiola Omisore and Chris Ubah.
The caller also confirmed the presence of a Zenith Bank bullion van and another truck packed close to the planes. The contents in the crates marked "INEC", according to him, were being off-loaded into the truck and the bullion van.
The media team ceaselessly took to the social media calling Nigerians' attention to this suspicion of evil plot.
Late in the afternoon of the same day, the same truck sighted at the Akure Airport was arrested along Efon-Alaye road by a team of soldiers on routine patrol. The military patrol team was led by Brigadier General Aliyu Momoh, the officer now at the centre of the election fraud facing dismissal from the military over his roles in the election fraud that returned Fayose as Ekiti State governor.
While General Momoh told reporters about the arrest of a lorry loaded with 2014 election materials, another set of people were arrested by Department of State Services (DSS) agents thumb-printing ballot papers at a hotel owned by Fayose's ally, Dipo Anisulowo, at Are-Ekiti. Anisulowo later became Mr. Fayose's Chief of Staff, who later admitted that he was surprised by the margin of difference between APC and PDP tallies in the results that emerged.
Both Momoh and DSS promised to hand over the lorry and the men to the police. But that was the end of the matter as INEC kept sealed lips, even as a more daring plot to rig the polls was in the offing by PDP and security agencies without Ekiti people knowing it.
On the eve of the election, thousands of soldiers and DSS agents were unleashed on APC leaders and supporters. Fayemi's Campaign Manager, Bimbo Daramola, was tipped off and so escaped arrest at his Ire-Ekiti home. But this was not so for his 80 year-old father who was tortured with all members of his household in lieu of the son with the policemen pointing gun to his head asking him to disclose the whereabouts of his son.
The Iloro Ekiti home of Fayemi's Finance Commissioner father, Pa Kolawole was vandalised while the old man and all those found in the house were tortured when they couldn't find his son who has fled before the soldiers arrived.
Hundreds of APC leaders and supporters arrested were not released until the end of the election. Several others ran into the bush for fear of arrest by soldiers while APC campaign officials were also arrested and party agents' money on them confiscated by soldiers.
Also on the eve of the election, armed soldiers were moving from polling unit to polling unit tampering with voting materials, scaring party agents that kept vigil at the centres where voting materials were kept.
On election day, people went to vote without any incident, but the results that emerged shocked not only APC members, but also PDP members alike.
Anger was boiling over amongst APC members. Sensing danger, Mr. Fayemi, who was already in possession of intelligence that Ekiti State was meant for forceful take-over by PDP with the consequent flow of blood by the Federal Government deployment of the military, quickly made a conditional concession of defeat in order to avert a bloodbath.
"If indeed this is the will of Ekiti people, I stand in deference to your will," Mr. Fayemi stated.
Soon, it emerged that it was not through Ekiti people's wish that Fayose became the governor, as Captain Sagir Koli released a secretly recorded audio tape of how President Goodluck Jonathan's administration used the military to criminally remove a sitting governor from office through the means other than as prescribed by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
In the tape were voices of Fayose, Obanikoro, Omisore, General Momoh, Jelili and one Abulrahman, a member of the House of Representatives from Oyo State.
In the tape, Fayose was heard speaking of how he collected INEC soft copies that he printed to win the election. He also spoke about the seized lorry loaded with INEC materials two days before the election. In the tape, he accused General Momoh of arresting the lorry loaded with INEC material on its way to the collation centre at Efon-Alaye, meaning that the results of an election that had not been conducted were being collated two clear days to the day of the election.
Obanikoro in the tape threatened General Momoh, saying that he sat on the Army Council responsible for his promotion and so the Army General must cooperate to enable him to get a promotion. Obanikoro had said: "General, you know that I sit on the Army Council that approves your promotion. If you make me happy tomorrow night, the sky's your limit...."
Mr. Fayose was eventually declared winner of the election after the army had accomplished its task of delivering the state to Jonathan. The APC took the matter to the tribunal on the grounds of ineligibility and militarisation of the polity but Mr. Fayose's victory was affirmed.
The APC took the matter to the Court of Appeal and again the court of Appeal upheld the decision of the lower court but with a caveat that the army should not be deployed for elections and that it was illegal for the President to have done so.
Not satisfied, the APC took the matter to the Supreme Court especially on the grounds of militarisation of the election non eligibility of Mr. Fayose. Curiously, the Supreme Court against all odds and normal legal doctrine, granted Mr. Fayose a relief he didn't seek by quashing his impeachment done by the State House of Assembly in 2006.
The Supreme Court ruled that Mr. Fayose was illegally impeached even though that was not before the Supreme Court. There were loud murmurs not from a few legal pundits asking why a court should grant a relief not sought but the Supreme Court is final!
Upon the exit of the man allegedly behind the electoral heist, President Jonathan, the Chief Of Army Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, General Ibrahim Buratai, opened the books to probe the military complicity in the treasonable act of illegal toppling of a sitting governor in Ekiti.
The findings of the probe panel confirmed Captain Koli's allegations contained in his secretly recorded tape. The Army Panel raised to probe that matter found several officers and soldiers guilty. According to the panel's recommendations, some are to lose their commands, some will lose their jobs, some will face the EFCC while several others were recommended for further investigations.
More shocking now are the revelations by the State Secretary of PDP, Dr. Tope Aluko, detailing with documents how the election was rigged in Mr. Fayose's favor.
He provided documentary evidence detailing the names and staff numbers of the officers and soldiers involved in the operation, including the army's operational details that were clearly in Fayose's support. He also revealed that officials of Ekiti and Osun state INEC were paid N1 billion without the knowledge of the then INEC Chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega.
This payment was to facilitate the posting of FUTA lecturers sympathetic to PDP to work as returning officers during the election.
Dr. Aluko confirmed on that programme that the rampaging soldiers on election day were under the instruction of Fayose to attack and collect all the money found on APC chieftains and that was exactly what they did!
Even though Lere Olayinka, who also appeared on the same Channels programme, sought to reduce the matter to personal issues, he cleverly dodged the questions on evidence of Army's culpability in the entire election fraud saga.
Now that some military officers will face sack and imprisonment, the question is; will a "small thief' suffer for the crime committed jointly with a "bigger thief" in the Ekiti epic election fraud that has set tongues wagging since last year?
Will the course of justice be served if the prime suspect in a treasonable offence is allowed to enjoy the benefit of his crime while those who only assisted through official complicity of the Federal Government are to bear the consequences of this crime against Nigerian Constitution?
It is on this note that necessary actions be taken by the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice to ensure that no man or a set of men constitute themselves as a threat to the integrity of the Nigerian Constitution and democracy.
It is also a signal to the International Community, notably the American State Department, to withdraw their approval of the election that was tainted with fraud and criminality as revealed in Ekitigate tape and PDP scribe's testimony, as they will never accept such election under any circumstances in their countries.
The urgent international community repudiation of their earlier vote praising the conduct of the election has become imperative in the face of Mr. Fayose flaunting international reports in the media houses and on the streets justifying his electoral fraud just because the international community approved the election in error.
Failure to address Ekiti election fraud squarely to ensure justice is a declaration that Nigerian Constitution is open to abuses by desperate politicians who consider themselves bigger than the law of the nation.
Adesegun Omolewa, a Lagos based public affairs analyst, based in Ojodu, Lagos.