he Ondo State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has accused Agboola Ajayi, the Deputy Governor of the state, of plotting to use ex-militants to manipulate the 2019 elections.
The party alleged that Ajayi held several meetings with the ex-agitators in the riverine areas of the state over plans to rig the elections in favour of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Banji Okunomo, the PDP Publicity Secretary in Ondo State, made the allegation in a statement issued in Akure, the state capital, on Thursday.
Okunomo claimed that part of the plans of the Deputy Governor was to use his position to block the ”bank accounts” of prominent leaders and candidates of the party.
The statement read: “Indications emerged yesterday that the Deputy Governor of Ondo State, Mr. Agboola Ajayi, is plotting all manners of unlawful devices to undermine the coming elections with rigging plots aimed at foisting unpopular candidates against the wishes of the good people of Ondo State.
“Also yesterday, the Deputy Governor (Agboola Ajayi) held a series of meeting with ex-militia groups in Ondo State particularly from the riverine areas of the state, seeking their support to hatch his illicit plans in contravention of the electoral laws.
“One of the ex-militants, who attended the meeting and pleaded anonymity, said they were promised to be assisted with compromised security personnel who will be on duty during the elections. The ex-militants were given N2million as inducement and they were asked to return for further tranches in the next few days.
“Other unlawful strategies include blocking the bank accounts of prominent leaders of PDP, blocking the campaign fund account of our party, wanton arrest and whisking away of PDP leaders to unknown destinations.”
The PDP spokesperson called on the international community and security agencies to beam searchlight on riverine areas of the state before the February 16 and March 2, 2019 elections. He also urged Rotimi Akeredolu, Governor of Ondo State, and the President to also call the Deputy Governor to order to forestall possible crisis that may surface during the polls.
However, Ajayi has denied the allegation, noting that PDP was merely looking for “a cheap way to explain its failure at the forthcoming elections”.
Speaking through Leke Akeredolu, his Chief Press Secretary, Ajayi said: “We would, however, like to make it clear to the whole world that the Deputy Governor, who is the Chairman of the Amnesty Programme in the state, met leaders of the ex-militants on Monday to resolve a misconception over their incorporation into the Federal Government amnesty programme.
“The said Monday meeting was not different from the previous meetings that government representatives have had with leaders of the ex-militants and the discussion centred basically on their inclusion into the amnesty programme, not elections matter.
“Mr. Ajayi only appealed to these ex-militants, who had been threatening to disrupt the elections in the riverine areas of the state, to sheathe their swords and be patient with the Federal Government. He told the aggrieved ex-militants that the Federal Government would soon begin training for them at the newly commissioned Oil and Gas Vocational Training Centre in Agadagba-Obona in Ese-Odo Area of Ondo State.
“Let it be known to the PDP that the Akeredolu government will not use militants to rig elections in the state, but count on its visible achievements across the state, which have been lauded by the masses, who are ready to cast their votes for APC to win the elections.”