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Cablegate: Opposition Candidates Allege Irregularities in by Election

VZCZCXRO1861
RR RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHOS #0035 0381359
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 071359Z FEB 08
FM AMCONSUL LAGOS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9707
INFO RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 9443
RHMCSUU/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC
RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS LAGOS 000035

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR AF/W
STATE FOR INR/AA
DOE FOR CAROLYN GAY

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM KDEM NI
SUBJECT: OPPOSITION CANDIDATES ALLEGE IRREGULARITIES IN BY ELECTION
CONDUCTED BY INEC


1 (U) Summary: Several opposition parties in Oyo State alleged
irregularity and fraud in a by election held in the capital city of
Ibadan to fill a legislative seat rendered vacant by the murder of
its former incumbent.

2. (U) On January 26, the Independent National Electoral Commission
conducted a by-election in Lagelu/Akinyele federal constituency, Oyo
State, to fill a vacancy that resulted from the assassination of a
federal legislator, Olusegun Oladimeji. (NOTE: Oladimeji was
murdered by yet to be identified gunmen on September 14, 2007.
Several politicians in Oyo State alleged that Oladimeji's murder was
politically motivated. The police have since commenced
investigation. End Note). Mr. Oyetunji Omotayo of the Peoples
Democratic Party (PDP) won the January 26 election with 17,507 votes
to defeat his closest rival, Bashiru Latinwo of the Action Congress
(AC), who scored 4,906 votes.

3. (U) Several opposition parties who fielded candidates during the
election alleged that the ruling PDP connived with INEC to
manipulate the election in its favor. The All Nigerian Peoples Party
(ANPP) called for the cancellation of the election. The party
alleged that it was marred by 'massive rigging, violence,
intimidation and carting away of ballot boxes'. ANPP also claimed
that several PDP thugs led by prominent PDP chieftain Lamidi Adedibu
and Deputy Governor Taofeek Arapaja stole ballot boxes and inflicted
injuries on opposition members. The AC alleged that policemen
connived with INEC officials to manipulate the election. Deputy
Police Commissioner Ralph Ibeazor told journalists that violence did
occur during the election. He said the police arrested 65 people who
drove around the city in a convoy, wielding charms and dangerous
weapons to scare away voters. Ayodele Folami, Public Affairs Officer
of the Oyo State Office of INEC, told PolSpec that no formal
complaint has been submitted to INEC by any of the opposition
candidates.

4. (U) Comment: Police confirmation of violence and irregularities
during the by-election has further shown that lessons still need to
be learned from the April 2007 general election. Local and foreign
election observers reported the 2007 general election was marred by
violence and voting irregularities. This by-election also proves
that fundamental electoral reforms are needed quickly and the
Federal Government's electoral review committee needs to move faster
to recommend reforms in order to avoid future election problems at
the local and national levels. End Comment.

5. This cable has been cleared by Embassy Abuja

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