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.

LAUTECH Crisis: Oyo, Osun Commit To Maintaining Joint Ownership

LAUTECHOyo State Governor, Abiola Ajimobi and his Osun counterpart, Rauf Aregbesola have finally met to find a lasting solution to the lingering crisis facing Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso (LAUTECH).

The meeting, which was also attended by their deputies, Moses Alake Adeyemo (Oyo) and Titi Laoye-Tomori (Osun), and other top officials of both states, took place at the State Executive Chambers of the Governor’s Office, Ibadan.

A communiqué signed by the two governors, which was read by Gov. Ajimobi after a four-hour meeting, restated both states’ irrevocable commitment to the continued joint ownership of the institution.

He announced the setting up of a visitation panel headed by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Chief Wole Olanipekun, as a follow-up to the meeting.

Other members of the panel are Hon. Rasheed Afolabi, Prof. Grace Akinola and Prof. Sola Fajana, representing Osun State; while Dr. Tunji Olaopa, Prof. Ayo Salami, Mr. Ayo Raji, and Permanent Secretary, Oyo State Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, Mrs Aderonke Makanjuola (Secretary) were named as representatives of Oyo State.

The panel was saddled with the task of reviewing the current terms of engagement between the two owner states with a view to consolidating the joint ownership, as well as to conduct an audit into the institution’s sources and application of funds.

The wise men and women would also be expected to propose strategies for the overall improvement in the quality of education and service delivery in the institution.

Ajimobi said, “The meeting regrets the current challenges of funding and management confronting the institution and restates commitment to moving the institution forward.

“In view of the historical affinity and long relationship between the two states of Oyo and Osun, the meeting resolves to rededicate all efforts towards the development of mutually beneficial goals that will further cement the bond of friendship and brotherhood between them.

“As brothers, sisters and family members of the same Yoruba ancestry, the meeting agreed that this should be a time of consolidation between the states rather than a time of fragmentation.

“Consequently, the meeting agreed to an irrevocable commitment to joint ownership of Ladoke Akintola University, Ogbomoso, in accordance with the laws setting up the institution.”

ajimobi-aregbesola-tomori

The Governor declared that both states agreed that comprehensive restructuring was inevitable in order to achieve national, regional and global reckoning by the institution, while he cautioned residents of the two states and other stakeholders to eschew any form of violence.

The communiqué also appealed to the academic staff members currently on industrial action to resume academic activities while the owner states sought for amicable and sustainable solutions to the lingering crisis that had pitted indigenes of both states against one another.

Ajimobi added, “We agreed on the necessity for a comprehensive restructuring of the institution to ensure fair and effective development and distribution of academic resources, physical structures and assets of the university across the two states.

“This is in order to achieve national, regional and global reckoning. We appeal to the academic staff who are currently on industrial action to resume academic activities while amicable solutions are being worked out to sort their grievances.

“We enjoin all residents of the two states, as well as other stakeholders, including students, teachers and workers to go about their lawful duties and resist any temptation to take the laws into their hands. The meeting warned that anyone or group that does otherwise will face the full wrath of the law.”

Alleged Fraud: Dokpesi’s Trial Stalled

dokpesiThe trial of the former Chairman of DAAR Communications PLC, Raymond Dokpesi, stalled on Wednesday after defence counsel made a complaint.

At the resumed trial at the Federal High Court in Abuja on Wednesday, the defence team led by Mr Wole Olanipekun, argued against the commencement of the trial on the ground that the proof of evidence supplied by the prosecutor was not readable.

The prosecutor, Mr Rotimi Jacobs, countered the argument of Mr Olanipekun saying that since he came into the case, he had not provided the address of his chambers for the service of documents.

He, however, informed the court that he would make a clean and clear copy of the proof of evidence available to the defence team before the next adjourned date.

Justice John Tsoho subsequently adjourned the case to March 28 and 29.

Mr Dokpesi is standing trial on a six-count charge of money laundering and other charges relating to procurement fraud.

N47.1bn Theft Charges: Akingbola Files Appeal, Seeks Stay Of Proceedings

ERASTUS AkingbolaThe former Managing Director of the defunct Intercontinental Bank Plc, Erastus Akingbola, on Monday, asked the Lagos High Court, Ikeja, to stay proceedings in the N47.1 billion theft trial levelled against him by the Economic Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

His co-defendant, Mr Bayo Dada, the General Manager of Tropics Securities Ltd., also made a similar request before the presiding judge, Justice Lateef Lawal-Akapo.

Mr Akingbola’s counsel, Wole Olanipekun, who filed an application to stay the proceedings, told Justice Lawal-Akapo that the application was premised on an appeal challenging his ruling of May 2.

On May 2, Justice Lawal-Akapo had dismissed an application by the defendants seeking to quash the charges against them. With that dismissal, the court then assumed jurisdiction to hear the matter and fixed Monday June 23 for arraignment.

Dissatisfied with the ruling, Mr Akingbola headed to the Court of Appeal where he filed a notice of appeal.

His lawyer, Olanipekun, therefore informed Justice Lawal-Akapo that the Court of Appeal had already fixed July 3 for hearing of the appeal; he urged the court to wait for the outcome of the proceedings, in the interest of justice.

Counsel to the 2nd defendant, Prof Taiwo Osipitan, aligned with his submissions. He further urged the court to adjourn proceedings pending the hearing and determination of Mr Akingbola’s appeal.

Counsel to the EFCC, Mr Godwin Obla, said, though, he had only just been served the application for stay of proceedings, he was, however, willing to respond orally on points of law to accelerate proceedings.

He urged the defendants to move their application and to desist from seeking an adjournment through the backdoor.

In a short ruling, Justice Lawal-Akapo granted the request of the defence counsel and adjourned till July 11 for arguments on the application to stay proceedings.

Theft Charge: Court Sets May 2 To Rule On Erastus Akingbola’s Application

Erastus AkingbolaThe Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja has fixed May 2 to rule on an application filed by the former Managing Director of defunct Intercontinental Bank, Dr Erastus Akingbola.

The former bank chief wants the court to dismiss the charges against him and he is therefore challenging the jurisdiction of the state high court to hear the 47.1 billion Naira theft charge levelled against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Dr Akingbola is charged alongside his associate, Bayo Dada for allegedly stealing the money which belonged to Intercontinental Bank.

Mr Dada also has a similar application before the court which also seeks to quash the charges against him.

At the resumed hearing of the matter today, Counsel to Dr Akingbola, Mr Wole Olanipekun, SAN while moving the application argued that the subject matter of the alleged offences relates to banking operations and operations of capital market which falls under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Federal High Court.

He premised his argument on the judgment of the Lagos Court of Appeal which struck out a theft charge preferred against a former Managing Director of Finbank Plc, Mr. Okey Nwosu, and some others.

The Court of Appeal had held in Mr Nwosu’s case that the Lagos High Court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the charge because it emanated from capital market transactions. The court also held that a case associated with the capital market should be handled by the Federal High Court.

Counsel to the EFCC, Mr Godwin Obla, SAN opposed the application of the defendants challenging the courts jurisdiction. He contended that though Section 251 subsection 1(a-s) vests exclusive jurisdiction in the Federal High court in specified cases, criminal matters on those cases were not exclusively vested in the Federal High Court.

He also contended that the precedent which the court of appeal relied on in the judgment of Okey Nwosu had been overturned by the Supreme Court. He therefore urged the State High Court to dismiss the applications of the defendants and hold that it had jurisdiction on the charges of theft preferred against both men.

The arguments went on for over 3hours with Prof Taiwo Osipitan also making a case for the 2nd defendant.

After the arguments, Justice Lawal-Akapo adjourned till May 2 his ruling on the consolidated applications as argued by the parties.

If the applications succeed, the case against Mr Akingbola and his co-defendant will collapse but if the application fails, the court will assume jurisdiction and proceed to hear the case against both men.

Money Laundering Charges: Judges’ Seminar Stalls Trial Of Lagos Speaker

Lagos Speaker IkuforijiThe trial of the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji, was on Monday stalled as the presiding judge had to rise to attend a judges’ seminar.

Ikuforiji, had been standing trial before the Federal High Court, Lagos, for allegedly laundering over 339million Naira, charges brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The EFCC alleged that Ikuforiji and one of his aides, one Oyebode Atoyebi, accepted various cash sums on behalf of the State House of Assembly without going through a financial institution.

The suit, which was fixed for continuation of trial, could not go on as earlier scheduled, due to a judges’ seminar organised by the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON).

When the case was called, the Prosecutor, Godwin Obla, and the Defence Counsel, Wole Olanipekun, consented to an adjournment.

The defence counsel, however, urged the prosecutor to produce his remaining witnesses in court on the next date, to ensure speedy trial.

Justice Ibrahim Buba then adjourned the case till Tuesday, March 18, for continuation of trial before leaving for his seminar.

The EFCC had re-arraigned the accused persons on June 24, 2013, on an amended 54 count charge.

The offences are said to contravene the provisions of Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (prohibition) Act 2011.

Both men had, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge, and were granted bail in the sum of 1 billion Naira each, with two sureties, each in the sum of N500 million.

Money Laundering Charges: Change Of Counsel Stalls Lagos Speaker’s Trial

The trial of the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji, was on Tuesday stalled by a change of counsel.

Ikuforiji is standing trial before the Federal High Court, Lagos, for allegedly laundering over 339million Naira. The charges were brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The EFCC alleged that he and one of his aides, one Oyebode Atoyebi accepted various cash sums on behalf of the State House of Assembly without going through a financial institution.

At the resumed hearing of the case, Former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Wole Olanipekun, told Justice Ibrahim Buba, that he had just been briefed by the Speaker to take over the case from the previous counsel, Tayo Oyetibo.

While no reason was given for the change of counsel, the new counsel however asked the court for time to study the case file in order to adequately prepare for the defence of his client.

Although, Counsel to the EFCC, Godwin Obla, had expressed his readiness to proceed with the trial, he did not oppose the motion for an adjournment.

The counsel merely expressed regret that the Nigerian Constitution did not make any provision for a demand for cost.

After listening to both lawyers, Justice Buba was forced to cancel Wednesday and Friday, January 8 and 10, 2014 which he had earlier fixed for the continuation of the trial. The case was then adjourned till the March 17.

Kogi Governorship Tussle: Supreme Court Fixes Judgement Day

Kogi State Governor, Idris Wada and his challenger in the 2011 governorship election Mr Jibrin Isah will on February 21, 2014 know their fate on who was the authentic candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP in the poll.

Isah, a governorship aspirant and alleged winner of the January 9, 2011 Peoples Democratic Party governorship primary in Kogi State, is seeking court order to nullify the nomination of Governor Wada and declare him the governor of the state.

Justice Mahmoud Mohammed of The Supreme Court fixed Friday February 21 to give final judgment in the legal battle, after parties in the suit had adopted their final briefs of argument.

Adopting his brief for Governor Wada, Chris Uche submitted that the appellant, based on section 141 of the Electoral Act 2010, could not be declared governor by virtue of his failure to participate in the December 3, 2011 governorship election.

He argued that the aborted primary election of January 2011, being relied upon by the appellant, was rightly cancelled by the PDP, a position that was supported by both counsel to the People’s Democratic Party and the Independent National Electoral Commission.

However, in his argument seeking nullification of Governor Wada’s election, counsel to Jubrin Isah, Wole Olanipekun, canvassed that the election of Governor Wada cannot stand in law because it was conducted against the judgment of a Supreme Court.

Isah had lost both at the Federal High Court and Court of Appeal which separately dismissed his suit on the ground that they lacked jurisdiction to entertain a concluded election matter and that the litigant also lacked ‘locus standi’, to institute the case.

Supreme Court Adjourns Okorocha’s Suit To Jan. 2014

The Supreme Court in Nigeria has fixed January 24, 2014 for judgment on the suit filed by the governor of Imo State, Mr Rochas Okorocha challenging the decision of the Appeal Court in Owerri to allow Mr Ikedi Ohakim to join in the suit filed by Mr Ifeanyi Ararume.

Mr Ararume, who was the governorship candidate of the Action Congress of Nigeria in the 2011 governorship election, had challenged the constitutionality of the May 6 supplementary election that brought Okorocha to power.

Mr Ohakim was the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

At the resumed hearing of the suit in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, counsel to governor Okorocha, Mr Niyi Akintola adopted his brief of argument and prayed the court to rule in his favour.

The lawyer to the PDP, Mr Wole Olanipekun however informed the court of a preliminary objection he filed, saying the appeal by Governor Okorocha is an incompetent one.

Mr. Awa Kalu representing Mr. Ifeanyi Ararume, who did not challenge the suit, stressed that every litigant had a right of appeal.

It will be recalled that the Court of Appeal in a ruling delivered by Justice Hussein Mukhtar has dismissed Okorocha’s objection to Ohakim’s application and consequently made Ohakim an appellant in the case.

Okorocha in his Supreme Court appeal argued that Ohakim’s party, the PDP, had earlier challenged the subject matter of the suit at the election petitions tribunal and lost arguing further that the PDP also challenged the decision of the election tribunal at the Supreme Court and lost.

According to him, allowing Ohakim to challenge the high court’s judgment on appeal was to afford him the opportunity to pursue two remedies against the same infraction in two courts at the same time.