Ondo Election: INEC Raises Alarm Over Security

Ondo Governorship Election, Ondo Governorship PollThe Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has raised security concern over the attitude of politicians in Ondo State ahead of the forthcoming governorship election.

The Resident Electoral Commissioner in the state, Mr Olusegun Agbaje, says the actions of some aggrieved politicians in the state since the political parties conducted their primaries is capable of undermining the security of the state.

“The mindset of the political class, especially the politicians that belong to the leading political party on what it takes to win elections usually involve violence and malpractices among their followers.

“There is an urgent need for the political class to change its do or die attitude to good conduct in politics and a political caution of violence has to be done away with in our political parties.

“Our political parties must imbibe the culture of sincere eternal party democracy in the interest of the nation’s democracy,” he said.

Mr Agbaje made the remarks on Thursday at a meeting with members of the civil society groups in Abuja, to assess INEC’s preparation for the elections.

‘I Will Resign’

On the sideline of the event, the senior INEC official also explained why the electoral umpire published the name of Mr

Recession, Jimoh Ibrahim, Ondo PDP
INEC-Recognised Ondo PDP Governorship Candidate, Jimoh Ibrahim

Jimoh Ibrahim as the Peoples Democratic Part (PDP) candidate for the polls.

 

The decision has led to massive protest in Ondo State, southwest Nigeria.

“It is the court judgement of that day that forced us to say it is this person and that means if another higher court comes with a judgement to say it is Eyitayo Jegede, (we will obey),” he noted.

Agbaje further revealed that he had made a commitment that INEC would obey the ruling of the Appeal Court if the ruling favours Jegede.

“If the Appeal Court says it is Eyitayo, the commission cannot say no, but if it does, I will resign my appointment as a commissioner,” he stated.

Ondo PDP, Eyitayo Jegede, Ahmed Makarfi
Mr Eyitayo Jegede

Meanwhile Mr Clement Nwakwo, who is a member of one of the civil groups, Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre, had a different view about the procedure of selecting candidates.

He advised the politicians to address issues of candidacy in-house, instead of approaching various courts for such decisions.

“I do not think that INEC has any major role to play in deciding who the candidates are (and) that’s why they have taken the decision.

“It is really for the political parties to sort out their mess for the court to really not become a theatre of deciding who candidates are, but the political party themselves making those decisions in line with their own process and the rule of law,” he recommended.

PDP Crisis Deepens

At least 1.6 million registered voters are expected to participate in the Saturday, November 26 governorship polls in Ondo State.

There has been crisis over the authenticity of candidates in some of the parties in the polls including the PDP, All Progressives Congress (APC) and Alliance for Democracy (AD).

Olusola Oke, AD, Ondo Election
AD declares Olusola Oke as its candidate

While the APC and AD finally adopted Mr Rotimi Akeredolu and Mr Olusola Oke as their respective candidates, the controversy has deepened in the PDP.

Both factions of the party have continued to lay claim to having produced the authentic candidate of the party, although the Ali Modu Sheriff faction is backed by the court ruling which favoured Jimoh Ibrahim and which INEC has obeyed.

The PDP faction led by Senator Ahmed Makarfi, has equally been optimistic that “justice would be served” and called on all PDP faithful across Nigeria as well as the general public to remain calm and continue to support them.

In a statement by the PDP National Publicity Secretary, Dayo Adeyeye, the Caretaker Committee has reiterated its support for Jegede as the party’s sole flag-bearer.

President Buhari having a chat with Governor Lalong and Mr Akeredolu
President Buhari having a chat with Governor Lalong and Mr Akeredolu

On his part, APC candidate, Mr Akeredolu has made a mockery of the PDP, saying he would defeat both Ibrahim and Jegede if put together in the polls.

Briefing reporters after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari and Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong, he boasted that he would emerge victorious at the poll.

Ondo PDP: Makarfi Faction Insists Jegede Is Governorship Candidate

Ondo PDP, Eyitayo Jegede, Ahmed MakarfiCaretaker Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has reiterated its support for Mr Eyitayo Jegede as its only flag-bearer in the Saturday, November 26 governorship election in Ondo State.

The support was declared on Tuesday at a meeting between the factional PDP Chairman, Senator Ahmed Makarfi and the state chairmen in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.

A statement by the party’s National Publicity Secretary, Prince Dayo Adeyeye, revealed that the meeting took place at the temporary Secretariat of the Party in Wuse II and deliberated on topical national issues.

The State Chairmen were briefed on the developments in the party and some certain decisions of leadership.

The meeting also received reports from the state chairmen on the state of affairs in their various territories.

It was equally optimistic that justice would surely be served and therefore, echoed full support for Mr Jegede, as its candidate in the Ondo governorship poll.

The leaders further called on all PDP supporters across Nigeria and the general public, especially Ondo State residents, to remain calm and continue to support them in moving the party forward.

One-Sided Justice

Meanwhile, a three-member special panel of the Court of Appeal handling the appeal cases of the Ondo PDP crisis on Tuesday recused from the panel, following allegations that the justices have been compromised.

The justices bowed out of the cases after considering a petition written by a factional Ondo State PDP Chairman, Mr Biyi Poroye, who claimed that the justices were likely to be biased against him.

In the petition dated October 31 and addressed to the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, the Poroye alleged that the Ondo State Governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, had boasted in the public that he and his Rivers State counterpart, Nyesom Wike, had settled the judges to do their bidding.

Mimiko Meets Buhari, Says Jegede Remains PDP's Lawful Candidate,
Ondo State Governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko

He also purported that Justice Sankey was transferred from Yola where Eyitayo Jegede, the appellant, who is also a senior lawyer, was practicing law for the past 15 years and that when the justice arrived in Akure, Governor Mimiko boasted that he catered for her to the tune of 100 million Naira.

The petitioner had consequently sought for the disbandment of the panel on the ground that his side would not get justice from the panel.

Ondo Governorship: PDP Crisis Continues As Appeal Court Panel Withdraws

Ondo PDP governorship candidate tussle The three-member special panel of the Court of Appeal handling the appeal cases of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in respect of the Ondo State governorship candidacy for the November 26 governorship election has disqualified itself following allegations that the justices have been compromised.

The three justices bowed out of the cases on Tuesday following a petition written by a factional chairman of the party in the state, Mr Biyi Poroye, who alleged that the justices were likely to be biased against him.

In the petition written on October 31 and addressed to the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, the petitioner alleged that Governor Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State had boasted in the public that he and Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State have settled the justices to do their bidding.

Poroye further alleged that Justice Sankey was transferred from Yola where Eyitayo Jegede, the appellant, who is also a senior lawyer, was practicing law for the past 15 years and that when the justice arrived in Akure, Governor Mimiko boasted that he catered for her to the tune of 100 million Naira.

In the circumstances, the petitioner demanded the disbandment of the panel on the ground that his side would not get justice from the panel.

‘Unfortunate And Un-godly Petition’

At the resumption of hearing of the matter on Tuesday, Justice Sankey drew the attention of lawyers in the case to the petition and demanded to know whether the panel could continue hearing of the case in spite of the strongly worded petition against them.

Lawyer to Mr Jegede, Wole Olanipekun, in his reaction said: “I am taken aback by the development and I was not copied”.

Mr Olanipekun describes the petition “as most embarrassing, unfair, unfortunate and un-godly because the justices have not taken any step to suggest any likelihood of bias.

“If any party should complain, it is my client, whose right has been aborted because of the removal of his name as a candidate of the PDP on the list by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)”.

Counsel to the petitioner, Dr. Alex Izinyon, however, told reporters that he was speechless, having no prior knowledge of the petition.

“I have no inkling of the petition and was not consulted by my client before writing the petition,” he stressed.

Dr. Izinyon asked the court to invite the petitioner to the courtroom to explain the rationale behind his petition and to make clarifications on how he came about his claims.

“I have been caged by my client in his bid to make caricature of the court, I have come here to do my job in accordance to the law, I do not know how the court will react to this petition but I stand by you, justices of this court because I do not have any evidence that you have been compromised,” he told the panel.

After thorough consideration of the claims, Justice Sankey disqualified the panel.

“Ordinarily, since no fact had been put forward before the court to establish a case of likelihood of bias and since lawyers in this matter have all denied knowledge of the petition, ‘we would have minded to ignore the petition. But it is a settled law that when a case of likelihood of bias has been raised in a petition, it has to be looked into, even if the petition is frivolous,” she explained.

The head of the panel added that the panel members considered it necessary to disqualify themselves from all petitions in respect of Ondo PDP governorship matters.

“We hereby step down from this matter and the case files are to be returned to the president of this court for re-assignment to another panel,” Justice Sankey added.