A Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court on Thursday upheld the candidacy of Mr Adedapo Abiodun as the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ogun State.
Justice Olukayode Adeniyi dismissed the suit brought by an APC member, AbdulRafiu Baruwa, ahead of Saturday’s governorship and house of assembly elections in the state.
In the suit, Baruwa had prayed the court to disqualify the APC candidate on the ground that he provided false information to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in his Form CF 001.
He also sought that Abiodun be disqualified from the governorship race for alleged concealment and deliberate refusal to supply details of his educational qualifications to INEC as require by law, so as to escape punishment for infringement on the law.
Specifically, the plaintiff claimed that the APC candidate claimed in the 2015 senatorial election form for Ogun East to have graduated from the University of Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University, but in the 2019 governorship form, the candidate was said to have claimed to possess only secondary school education.
He asserted that Abiodun deliberately concealed his university education because of his alleged non-participation in the mandatory National Youth Service Scheme (NYSC) for Nigerians who are 30 years and below as at the time of graduation.
Baruwa insisted that wilful concealment or refusal to disclose detail of educational background amounted to false information and applied for an order of the court to disqualify the APC candidate.
He also sought another order of the court to replace Abiodun with one Jimi Lawal who was said to have come second in the primary election conducted by the party for the nomination of governorship candidate in Ogun State.
In his judgment, Justice Adeniyi, however, held that Section 177 of the 1999 Constitution cannot be invoked to disqualify the APC candidate because participation in the NYSC scheme was not a condition for qualification for governorship election.
He also held that the failure to include university education in the Form CF 001 submitted to INEC by Abiodun cannot be used to nullify his nomination.
According to the judge, the law provides states that a minimum qualification of secondary school education is required to qualify for governorship election which the APC governorship candidate eminently claims that he possessed.
He ruled that there were no consequences for Abiodun with his refusal to give details of his university education.
Justice Adeniyi added that the case of the plaintiff was an academic exercise which has no bearing with qualifications for governorship election under the constitution of the country.
He, therefore, held that the case of the plaintiff was unmeritorious and consequently dismissed it.
He told Channels Television’s Seun Okinbaloye on Sunday that the APC had an agreement to field a candidate from Ogun West in the next gubernatorial election but some members reneged on the consensus.
The lawmaker said the consensus was reached in a bid to give fairness and justice to Ogun West, seeing that the region had not produced a governor for the state in the last 43years.
He claimed that as far back as 2107, leaders of Ogun West came together and chose a candidate for the region. Adding that he was the individual selected at the meeting and was afterward presented to Governor Ibikunle Amosun who endorsed his candidature.
He, however, noted that some aggrieved of the party schemed to see that he does not run as the flagbearer, following a direct primary election which he described as “the worst electoral fraud in Ogun state”.
Stating that the past has been put behind him, Akinlade said he is happy for how bright the future looks as he bears the flag of the APM in the forthcoming gubernatorial election in the state.
He said, “I am grateful for what the future holds for APM in Ogun state,” adding that the people will vote for the candidate who merits the position.
Visit to President Buhari
Earlier on Sunday, Ogun State Governor Ibikunle Amosun and the governorship candidate of Allied Peoples Movement (APM) in the state, Adekunle Akinlade visited President Muhammadu Buhari.
The governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress in Ogun State, Mr Dapo Abiodun, has reacted to the certificate scandal hanging over his campaign, insisting the whole matter is down to mudslinging.
During an appearance on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics, Mr Abiodun said he was not worried about the scandal.
“There are no issues about my certificate,” he said, adding, “I never claimed to have finished from the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University).”
The APC candidate has faced allegations that he submitted conflicting educational qualifications to the Independent National Electoral Commission in 2015 when he ran for Senate and this year in his quest to become governor of his state.
Of contention is the allegation that he claimed to have obtained a degree from the University of Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University, an allegation he denies.
“I never claimed to have gotten a degree from the University of Ife,” he insisted when asked about the matter.
He, however, said he studied at the university, but he didn’t graduate from there.
When asked about some profiles of him that indicate he had a B.A in Accounting, replied, “But that is not from Ife”.
When his attention was subsequently drawn to the argument of those who fault claims that he bagged B.A in accounting on the grounds that the institution did not issue B.A. certificates in accounting, he blamed the controversy on political attacks.
“This has all been an attempt at mudslinging and to confuse the electorate and it is bundled with a lot of half-truths,” he said.
“I never claimed to have studied accounting at the University of Ife. I never claimed to get it (the degree) from the University of Ife. So, this issue has been presented as the presenter wanted it presented.”
Asked to clarify what degrees he had, Mr Abiodon said, “I do have a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Accounting and I will like to stop at that because this matter will be sub judice if I go any further.”
Stressing that the matter was in court, he declined to comment further on it when questioned about where he got his degree and the veracity of the certificate he indicated he had in his form for senatorial election in 2015.
Open To Reconciliation With Amosun
Mr Abiodun’s emergence as the governorship candidate of the APC in Ogun had created a rift in the party in the state with Governor Ibikunle Amosun refusing to back him, and preferring to support Mr Adekunle Akinlade who has dumped the APC after it backed Abiodun to fly its flag in the race.
The rift also pitted Governor Amosun against the National Chairman of the APC, Mr Adams Oshiomhole with both men trading accusations.
Concerning the crisis in the state chapter of the party, Mr Abiodun said, “Governor Amosun is my governor. I am positively disposed to reconciling with everyone and anyone, particularly my governor; he is a governor in my party.
“I believe these issues are issues that are internal to our party. It is unfortunate that it has come to the public fore. But I am sure that at the right time, these issues will be reconciled.”
Mr Oshiomhole has been accused of working for Mr Abiodun’s emergence as the party’s candidate against the wishes of the major stakeholders of the party in the state.
But Mr Abiodun insists he won fairly.
He said, “I don’t know about favoured candidates. I don’t think that primary elections are won by favoured candidates. Adams Oshiomhole did not come to conduct my elections in Ogun. I don’t see how anyone will begin to accuse Adams Oshiomhole as favouring me in place of some other persons.
“It is not unusual that we have these kinds of issues arise when we have primary elections within a party. It is not unusual and it is not the first time. It is just that this has been a bit more contentious than ordinarily, we have seen in the past.
“A body was set up to conduct my elections, that body conducted the elections, I emerged from that process and I have been declared the winner of that election and I remain the validly elected winner of that election.”
Away from the conflicts surrounding his campaign, Mr Abiodun is optimistic that he has solid plans for the state.
His vision is to give Ogun State a “focused and qualitative governance and create the enabling environment for a public-private partnership which is fundamental to the creation of an enduring economic development and the individual prosperity of all” in the state.
For him, a public-private partnership is critical for the enduring development of any state.
Also, the APC candidate believes that the internally generated revenue of the state will rise significantly if the state is able to “consciously and willfully” attract both local and foreign direct investors.
According to him, although there are several top companies located in the state, they did not commence operations there because they were encouraged to set up operations in the state.
“You will find out that most of them are in Ogun State not because there was a willful attempt to bring them in. They’ve come to Ogun State because it is convenient. It is very close to Lagos; the land mass is there and the people are there,” he said.
If elected, to fix the problem, Mr Abiodun said his administration will ensure that it increases the ranking of Ogun State on the global ease of doing business ranking.
The ranking, he explained, is measured by how easy it is to come to the state, set up a business, register a business, acquire land, employ people, and resolve disputes and so on.
Coming from a private sector background he said he would ensure that doing business in the state becomes a pleasurable experience and such things as dealing with multiple agencies when trying to set up a business to the state.
“It would be a pleasurable experience. We will endear you to come to Ogun State and invest,” he added.
As for his hopes and chances in the forthcoming election, the APC governorship candidate is of the view that the election will be won by the person who is able to show the electorate that “he is capable of leading the state”.
Narrowing it down, he believes he is that person.
“I believe that Ogun State citizens are very, very educated. They are a very educated electorate and I must remind you that that’s where Awolowo comes from.”
The level of education and awareness, to him, is major for his confidence that victory is within reach.