Ondo poll: INEC says no to postponement
• PDP Seeks Postponement Of Election, Sheriff Disagrees
• Buhari Rallies Support For APC candidate
• Jegede/Ibrahim Fate To Be Determined By Courts After Election – Lawyers
• Osinbajo, Tinubu, Aregbesola, Ambode, Ajimobi Shun Rally
Six days to the Ondo State Governorship Election, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has dismissed calls for the postponement of the election.
This is coming on the heels of calls by the Markafi faction of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the postponement of the election over ongoing legal battles to determine the rightful candidate of the party.
Also, President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday, led national leaders of the party, including Senate President, Bukola Saraki, state governors, ministers, National Chairman of the Party, John Odigie Oyegun and members of the National Working Committee of the party to the grand finale rally of the party in Akure, Ondo State capital.
President Buhari who arrived Akure to the waiting hands of the state governor, Olusegun Mimiko and the held a private meeting with the former aspirants of the party, Akeredolu and leaders of the party in the state.
Speaking at a meeting, he said the unity of the party was crucial for the outcome of next Saturday’s election.
“I like your high spirit and your commitment to the party and I hope your constituencies are taking note of that,’’ the President told the aspirants shortly before departing for the Democracy Park in Akure for the grand finale of the Ondo APC gubernatorial rally.
At the rally, President Buhari, Saraki, Oyegun and the governors who spoke one after the other, urge the party supporters to work for the victory of Akeredolu at the election.
Despite the large turn out of leaders of the party, the national leader of the party, Senator Bola Tinubu and his core loyalists, including the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, Governors Rauf Aregbesola, Akinwunmi Ambode and Abiola Ajimobi of Osun, Lagos and Oyo states were not at the rally.
Their absence further affirmed speculations that all is not well within the party. Tinubu has been rumoured to have turned his back on the governorship candidate and is believed to be supporting the rival candidate of the Alliance for Democracy (AD), Olusola Oke.
INEC said it is going ahead with the scheduled election because there was no justification for postponement.
Chief Press Secretary to the Chairman of the Commission, Rotimi Oyekanmi in an interview with The Guardian, said: INEC is not contemplating a postponement, as the attendant conflicts in the build up to the election in the state are strictly the party’s affair and not that of the electoral umpire.
But the Ahmed Makarfi-led National Caretaker Committee of the Peoples Democratice (PDP), yesterday, accused the Federal Government of intimidating the judiciary to force it to subvert the course of justice in favour of the APC in the election.
The PDP in a statement issued by the spokesman of the caretaker committee, Dayo Adeyeye, also called on INEC to shift the election pending the determination of the cases at the Appeal Court.
The Court of Appeal Panel led by Justice Ibrahim Salauwa set up to determine the appeals of Senator Ahmed Makarfi and Mr. Eyitayo Jegede (SAN) against the judgment given by Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja, which affirmed Jimoh Ibrahim of the Ali Modu Sheriff faction as the candidate of the party in the election, had on Friday, adjourned all proceedings sine die.
In doing so, Justice Ibrahim Salauwa stated that the decision to adjourn was taken in the face of a petition written against the panel to the Chief Justice of the Federation (CJN) and Chairman of the National Judicial Council (NJC), alleging acts of corruption, bias and breach of oaths of office amongst others.
The PDP described the indefinite adjournment as a consequence of what it called “the latest of several mischievous actions taken by Messrs Biyi Poroye, Jimoh Ibrahim and their legal team led by Mr. Ben Nwofor (SAN). These actions, ranging from unsubstantiated allegations of corruption, to outright disrespect and disregard for the Justices of the Court of Appeal, to disruption of court proceedings and flagrant abuse of court processes, are all designed to achieve one aim – stall proceedings and ensure that the legitimate candidate of the party is prevented from contesting the November 26th, 2016 Gubernatorial Election in Ondo State.” It stated.
As the legal battle for the rightful candidate to fly the PDP’s flagin the election continues in the Supreme Court on Tuesday, lawyers have agreed that the issue of the rightful candidate of the PDP can only be resolved after the election.
According to some senior members of the bar who spoke to The Guardian, unless the Court of Appeal makes pronouncement early this week, quickly followed by that of the Supreme Court, supporters of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ondo State would be going into the November 26 gubernatorial poll bewildered
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Ibrahim Bawa said INEC can continue with the election with the name of Ibrahim. According to him, if PDP wins the election and Eyitayo Jegede (SAN) emerges victorious at the courts finally, he (Jegede) would take over from Jimoh Ibrahim.
Gordy Uche (SAN) toed the same line of argument. He believes that the election will go on with the courts approved candidate, being Ibrahim.
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Police has commenced the deployment of 25,000 police officers from various special units. The Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO) Don Awunah told The Guardian that the Police as the lead internal security agency would work in close partnership with other security agencies, noting “already deployment has commenced and we are leaving no stone unturned to ensure a hitch free process”.