There are indications that the governor of Ondo State, Olusegun Mimiko, has perfected plans to defect from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The governor yesterday met with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
If he eventually does that, it will be a major setback for the PDP as the party will lose the advantage of the incumbency factor which appears to weigh heavily in its favour towards winning the oncoming governorship election in the state.
LEADERSHIP Weekend checks reveal that Mimiko is looking for a soft landing, hence his visit to the president.
Mimiko had spent one week at the nation’s capital prior to the release of the final list of governorship candidates by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Thursday night.
Eyitayo Jegede, who was Mimiko’s attorney-general, had emerged the candidate of the Senator Ahmed Makarfi faction of the PDP while Jimoh Ibrahim was elected at a parallel primary in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, by the group led by Senator Ali Modu Sheriff. Both were engaged in multiple legal tussles until Thursday when an Abuja Federal High Court judge, Justice Okon Abang, decided the case in favour of Jimoh Ibrahim. INEC published Ibrahim’s name a few hours later as the authentic candidate citing the court ruling, effectively shutting Jegede out of the race.
However, a source close to Mimiko confided in our correspondent that the governor had sought audience with President Buhari instead of an earlier arrangement he had with the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, for ‘peculiar reasons’.
‘’We were actually discussing with the candidate, but you know this is an intricate issue, that we need to encourage him to seek audience directly with the president instead of Akeredolu for some peculiar reasons that have to do with trust and mutual respect.
‘’This is politics; we have decided to make the president understand that his party needs us to defeat the AD (Alliance for Democracy) candidate who is heavily funded from Lagos. But how, when? That is the issue.
“Certain things have to be tabled for discussions and commitments extracted, but, in a matter of days, events will unfold as to where exactly. They may not like it, but that is the truth. We have held very fruitful discussions with the president and we are confident that he understood our position,’’ he said
But speaking to State House correspondents after the meeting with the president, Mimiko expressed reservations over the ability of INEC to conduct a credible election in the state.
The governor based his assertions on the announcement yesterday by the electoral body that Jimoh Ibrahim is the authentic governorship candidate of the PDP in the forthcoming elections in the state.
According to him, the action of INEC is potentially dangerous as it can cause a breach of the peace in the state.
Mimiko said the president had promised to look into it and that if there is any injustice, it would be rectified.
He said: “Under INEC guidelines, the time for substitution of candidates has even elapsed. This action potentially can cause a breach of peace. In Ondo State in the last seven and half years, we have done everything possible to put good governance on the table. We see this action as potentially dangerous. It can cause conflagration in the state and that is why, as the chief security officer of the state, I have come to alert Mr President of the potential danger of this injustice so that we can nip it in the bud.”
On the protests in the state, the governor said he had been on phone with stakeholders to ensure they keep the peace in the state.
“I have assured them that this injustice will not stay. We will continue to explore all avenues to make INEC see reasons why this impunity must not stand,” he assured.
Asked if he still has confidence in INEC to conduct credible election, he said: “If INEC finds it difficult to obey a court order, a credible election starts with a process like this.”
Protests Rock states
There was a general breakdown of the law and order yesterday in different parts of Ondo State as people took to the streets to protest the replacement of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate in the November 26 election, Eyitayo Jegede (SAN), with Jimoh Ibrahim.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had on Thursday replaced Jegede, the candidate of the Ahmed Makarfi faction, with Ibrahim, the candidate of the Ali Modu Sheriff faction, citing a court order.
Following the demonstration, economic and social activities were paralysed for several hours in Akure, the state capital, as the protesters marched through the popular Adesida/Oyemekun streets and moved to several parts of the metropolis such as Old Garage , Isinkan and Arakala road in the town.
As early as 6am, the protesters restricted all vehicular movement, blocked all the roads and made bonfires on all the major dual carriage roads in the town , making motorists, most of whom are travellers, ply through different shortcuts linking the streets, to continue their journeys.
They also ignored several sporadic gunshots and teargas canisters fired by a combined team of security agents into the air, insisting that unless Jegede was restored as the candidate, there would be no election in the state on November 26.
Similar protests were also recorded in Ondo, Irele, Owo, Ilaje, Okitipupa Isua Akoko, Ikare Akoko, Ipele , Ore and many other towns and villages in the state.
Addressing some of the protesters who invaded the Alagbaka office of the commission, the state Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Mr Olusegun Agbaje, said the commission listed Ibrahim’s name in obedience to a valid court order.
“We received a court order from the High Court in Akure and there was a subsisting one by Justice Abang; that is what happened,” he explained, noting, however, that another court order can upturn the situation.
“The situation will continue that way until the matter is decided by the Supreme Court if the parties choose to proceed to the apex court.”
He further stated that politicians always been put themselves in tight corner by jumping from one high court to another, instead of going to the Court of Appeal. “They are the ones undoing themselves and, like I said, we (INEC) do not have any candidate. We will only abide by the laws guiding the process,” he said.
In his reaction, the state chairman of the party, Engr. Clement Faboyede, described the substitution of Jegede’s name as a mockery of democracy and an indication that the nation’s democracy was dying in the hands of the APC-led federal government.
Faboyede said INEC had attained the reputation of being fair to all before the coming on board of the APC led government, and claimed that no free and fair election had been held under President Buhari’s administration.
According to him, Jegede was duly nominated through the party primary as stipulated by the Electoral Act which was witnessed by INEC, but that INEC has succumbed to pressure from some agents within the PDP.
“The events culminating in replacing Jegede is a crude hallmark and handiwork of some moles in PDP and some highly-placed government officials of APC at the federal level. The moles within the PDP believe that removing Jegede from the race will pave the way for easier manipulation of the election results in favour of the APC candidate,” he said.
Faboyede, however, challenged INEC to deny receiving the $1million bribe demanded from Ibrahim as alleged by him
He queries: “Is INEC succumbing to Jimoh’s intimidation or it accepts that the allegation is true? Or is it because of that allegation that INEC went ahead and agreed to his bidding, by removing Jegede’s name and replacing it with Jimoh Ibrahim?
“By publishing Jimoh’s name, it means they have accepted the $1million (bribe) and if, otherwise, we are asking INEC – or concerned department of INEC – to take Jimoh Ibrahim to court within the next 48 hours
“INEC should prove beyond reasonable doubt that Jimoh’s allegation – as contained in his interview – is not true, and convince the party that they are not publishing his name based on that allegation. They should also convince us that the bribe had not been taken.”
While insisting that Jegede remains the flag bearer of PDP, Faboyede noted that: “It is not the duty of any court to impose or dictate candidates for the party. It is a pre-election matter and the Supreme Court, which the highest organ of judiciary in the land, has said it several times that pre-election is not a matter of the court.”
He called on President Muhammadu Buhari to be father to all and give room to a level playing ground for the nation’s democracy to survive and for the wish of the people to prevail
He commended the protesters for not taking the laws into their hands while he urged security agents not to use force to disperse peaceful protesters.
On his part, the director of legal services, Eyitayo Jegede Campaign Organisation, Barrister Kunle Ijalana, described the ruling by Justice Okon Abang and subsequent removal of Jegede’s name as a coup against democracy.
Ijalana said granting an order in favour of someone who is not a member of a political party is alien to the legal jurisprudence of the country.
According to him, INEC was forced to do the bidding of a cabal.
“Justice is the solution to free and fair election in Ondo State. Without the name of Eyitayo Jegede on the INEC list as the candidate of the PDP, there can never be free and fair election in the state.
“Ondo State is a distinct state. They will not take cheating, even though they are law abiding citizen. The repeat of 1983 saga should not be encouraged in the state. The president must stand on the side of justice and not on the side of mere politicians,” he said.
Ijalana, however, urged the people of the state to remain calm and confident that justice would be done to the matter.
Meanwhile, Eyitayo Jegede has appealed to the people of the state to remain peaceful even as they protest against the list released by INEC for the election.
Jegede, in a statement he personally signed, following protests that rocked the state yesterday, said he shared in their pain of having to contend with a miscarriage of justice which he described as a temporary setback.
“I passionately appeal to the people of Ondo State to embrace peace at this period which is one of the trying times of our democratic process, which will soon pass away. Let’s keep our eyes on the big day ahead as we continue our campaigns,” he said.
He expressed optimism that the appeal court would correct the anomaly and restore to him the mandate that was freely given to him in a democratic process under the supervision of INEC and security agencies.
“I am confident the Appeal Court will do the needful in addressing this anomaly. My mandate remains intact and irreplaceable by any conspiracy as we fulfilled all legal requirements that brought us to where we are today. We are unmoved, undeterred and not intimidated, with God on our side,” Jegede said.
Makarfi-led PDP Faults INEC Over Ibrahim
The Sen Ahmed Makarfi faction of the PDP yesterday condemned the publication of Jimoh Ibrahim as the Ondo State governorship candidate of the party by INEC and warned that external forces should not set the state ablaze.
A statement by the national publicity secretary of the party, Prince Dayo Adeyeye, also faulted INEC for relying on the court order of Justice Okon Abang in Abuja in accepting Ibrahim and ignoring an Ondo State High Court, which had insisted that Jegede remained the candidate of the party, especially as both courts have coordinate jurisdiction.
The party also wondered why INEC would approve of Ibrahim’s candidature when it did not monitor the primaries through which he emerged.
The statement read in part: “The decision of INEC to publish the name of Barr. Jimoh Ibrahim as the candidate of the PDP for the Saturday, November 26, 2016, Ondo State governorship election is not only shocking but also surprising, to say the least.
“INEC monitored the primary election conducted in Akure, Ondo State, by the Senator Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi-led PDP which produced Hon. Eyitayo Jegede, SAN, and did not monitor the purported primary election that produced Barr. Jimoh Ibrahim which was said to have held in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.
“INEC cited the order from Justice Okon Abang of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court as the reason for publishing Barr. Ibrahim’s name as PDP Candidate but ignored another order from the Ondo State High Court, which is a court of coordinate jurisdiction, that compelled INEC to maintain Hon. Eyitayo Jegede’s name as the candidate of the PDP.
“The least INEC could have done in the circumstance was to maintain status quo and stick to its own earlier decision pending a superior order or judgment from a superior court. But that did not happen in this case.”
The statement noted that this singular decision of INEC had generated sporadic reactions from the electorate in Ondo State leading to violent protest and damage to property, saying this could have been avoided if INEC had adhered strictly to the provisions of the electoral laws and the Nigerian constitution.
“We, therefore, warn that external forces should not sit in Abuja and set Ondo State ablaze. Whatever authority in Abuja, whether it’s the executive that is using the judiciary or vice versa, must realise that they cannot, for selfish political reasons, toy with the fate of millions of people in Ondo State. Who emerges governor of the state should be the decision of the electorate themselves through the ballot and not from any organ of the federal government in Abuja,” it said.
The party remarked that Ondo people were politically sophisticated and any attempt to truncate the will of the people would be resisted vehemently, even as it recalled the 1965/66 and 1983 political violence in the west that brought about the collapse of the 1st and the 2nd Republics.
“We should therefore be careful not to repeat history,” it warned.
“Finally, we call on the people of Ondo State to eschew violence and remain calm. We believe in the rule of law and the matter is already at the Appeal Court, and we are certain that the PDP shall get justice on this issue and Hon. Eyitayo Jegede will be returned to contest under the platform of our great party, the PDP,” it concluded.
Mimiko Behind Protests – Ibrahim
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) recognized candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) for the Ondo State governorship election, Jimoh Ibrahim, has said that the protests in the state was orchestrated by governor Segun Mimiko.
In a statement he personally signed, Ibrahim alleged that in 2009, Governor Mimiko forged security reports of the SSS and the Police to deceive the court and tribunal of Justice Nabaruma that there were security issues in the state.
“That led to the cancellation of results in 8 out of 18 Local Governments of the State. This is how Governor Mimiko schemed himself into power and became the Governor of Ondo State, but when the late President Umaru Musa Yar’dua realized that the forgery story was true, Mimiko was already enjoying constitutional protection as Governor.”
“Yesterday (Thursday) Mimiko called on the drivers’ union in the state, whose chairman is his relative; to gather disposed tyres across the state and burn them so as to show that there are security challenges in Akure town,” Ibrahim alleged.
— Oct 29, 2016 4:46 am