Officials of the electoral body in Nigeria have begun the counting of votes at different polling units in the ongoing governorship election in Ondo State to choose a new governor to replace Mr Olusegun Mimiko.
Voters who had cast their votes, parties’ agents and security agents are observing the counting process undertaken by officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Voting ended at about 2:30 p.m. local time in most polling units in the election that started at about 8:00 a.m.
Accreditation and voting were held simultaneously.
Two of the four major contenders in the election have raised concerns over issues with card readers that had affected voting process in some polling units.
The candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Mr Rotimi Akeredolu, and that of the Peoples Democratic Party, Mr Eyitayo Jegede, had after casting their votes urged INEC to address the issues.
The Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC) is going ahead with the exercise despite calls for its postponement.
According to the Ondo State Resident Electoral Commissioner, Olusegun Agbaje, voters have been educated on what was expected of them.
He said that security had been beefed up to ensure smooth flow of the process.d
The Federal Government says 26,000 policemen and 15,000 personnel from the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps have been deployed in the state to maintain law and order along with some army officers.
Channels Television’s correspondents say all over the state voters are indeed going about the process of choosing the next governor.
The poll took off peacefully as early as 8:00a.m. in Owo Local Government Area, a day after violence there left one person dead.
Although accreditation was slow to start in Okitipupa Local Government Area, electoral materials all the same trickled in.
INEC says 1,659,186 voters are registered for the election, but 378,606 persons did not turn up to collect their Permanent Voter Cards.
About 28 political parties and their candidates are taking part in the election.
However, only about four of the parties are top contenders.
Candidate of the PDP, Mr Eyitayo Jegede and that of the Alliance for Democracy, Mr Olusola Oke, have voted at their different voting units.
The new governor will be sworn in when Governor Mimiko’s tenure expires in February 2017.
The process leading to the election has been a peculiar one, with controversies over who the legitimate candidate of one of the political parties contending, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is.
Two factions of the party – Ahmed Makarfi-led faction and Ali Modu Sheriff-led faction – had emerged in the state and had held different primaries that produced two candidates for the election.
After the primaries, both factions wanted their candidate’s name in the list of parties’ flag bearers for the election.
The controversy led to court cases.
A court order was obtained by one of the candidates, Mr Jimoh Ibrahim (of the Ali Modu Sherif faction), affirming his emergence as the candidate of the party, a court decision that made INEC added his name to the list.
Few days to the election an appeal filed by the other candidate, Mr Eyitayo Jegede, was heard and the Appeal Court gave an order for his name to be added to the list of the candidates.
The judgement led to the swapping of the name of the candidate of the PDP few days to the election.
After the court gave the ruling the electoral body said it had recognised Mr Jegede as the candidate of the PDP.
However, Mr Ibrahim pushed further to the Supreme Court in an attempt to get back the candidacy of the party, but the court ruled in favour of Mr Jegede.
After the Supreme Court’s ruling, on Thursday, Mr Jegede called for the postponement of the election to enable him campaign for the election, but the electoral body said it would not shift the election, as it had printed and initiated processes for the election.
The PDP was displeased with the refusal of the INEC to postpone the election, with the party saying it has no confidence in the electoral body or the process.