As the National Assembly aspirants in Saturday’s primaries of the All Progressives Congress are still counting their gains and losses, some journalists who covered the events in Ekiti are still in a maze why they were barred from covering the voting exercise of the Ekiti North Senatorial primaries which held in Ifaki.
The contestants for the ticket were incumbent senator, Olubunmi Adetumbi, Cyril Fasuyi, Oluomo Osinkolu, and Segun Ajibulu.
Expectedly, the ticket was keenly contested given that the state government was rumoured to be backing a particular candidate for the ticket other than the incumbent.
Reporters were at the venue as early as 9 a.m. but as soon as the process began, the Chairman of the committee for the election ordered that journalists be barred from entering the hall.
Adeola Aderibigbe, a reporter with the African Independent Television(AIT), told PREMIUM TIMES that the order to bar journalists from the venue was issued by the party’s Publicity Secretary, Segun Dipe, who was heading the committee.
He said despite protests from the reporters and efforts to get the party to change the rules, they were kept out of the premises until voting was concluded.
Mr Dipe was a journalist before joining politics.
“We covered several other APC primaries, there was never a place where we were barred from covering the process,” said Mr Aderibigbe.
“We were only allowed into the hall after voting had taken place and we were there to cover the counting of the ballots and thereafter the results were announced.”
He said the incident indicated that there was something someone wanted to hide and had prevented the press from playing its role during the voting process.
Kayode Babatuyi, the Secretary of the Nigeria Union of Journalists in Ekiti, said it was strange for reporters to be barred from covering an event as important as a senatorial primary.
“Although we were later called in to cover the counting of votes after the delegates were done with the voting, it is unusual for reporters not to be allowed to cover primaries.,” he said.
Mr Babatuyi, who also reports for the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria(FRCN), noted that he had covered several APC primaries before Friday’s event and still could not fathom the reason behind the decision.
He, however, said there was nothing suggesting malpractice during the exercise.
Mr Osinkolu, one of the aspirants who spoke to journalists on the issue, said “That is not part of the rules. There is no election that journalists are asked not to cover the exercise. So, that is not part of the rules.”
While announcing the results of the primary, Mr Dipe said Mr Adetumbi polled 85, while Mr Fasuyi scored 111 to emerge as the winner of the primaries.
Mr Osinkolu scored 47 votes and Mr Ajibulu scored 13 votes.
Mr Dipe further stated that the total number of expected voters was 280 but 270 votes were cast.
When contacted by PREMIUM TIMES for his reaction on the matter, Mr Dipe said he would not speak on it.
“I am not in any position to speak to you on the matter. Thank you.”