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Before they destroy (Ajasin’s) Ondo State…


 Pa Adekunle Ajasin

Pa Adekunle Ajasin

The PDP and APC principalities first moved to Lokoja, desecrated its political space and by the time the debris was cleared by the Supreme Court on September, 20 this year, democracy had been diminished. The party powers then moved to Bayelsa where the election was concluded in January this year after a bout of violent disruptions in 2015 left the state more divided. The Supreme Court confirmed the mandate of the state’s governor, Seriake Dickson barely two weeks ago.

Before the masquerades moved their shrines to Edo state, they stopped over in Rivers state for bye-elections that are yet to be concluded. In Edo state, the almighty department of state services and the police chiefs reinforced the then governor’s desire to postpone the election INEC had scheduled for September 10, 2016. Suddenly the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that had mobilized for the election had to bow to the DSS and police security alert and shifted the election to September 28. Some pundits said at the time that the outgoing governor’s candidate had to win, anyway. And the then governor’s candidatehas been sworn in.

But in Nigeria, our Nigeria, the brand new governor’s mandate is provisional until Supreme Court confirms it after legal battles from Tribunal through the Court of Appeal to the apex court. The days ahead are juicy for senior lawyers who are always battle ready to assist the aggrieved candidates to fight to the end even when they know that Nigeria’s Supreme Court hardly nullifies governorship elections. I would not like to join the controversial bandwagon on the credibility of the election management agency that has been charged with conducting a series of “inconclusive elections”.

My reason for aloofness from that debate is not just because there had been inconclusive elections right from the time of then Chief Michael Ani as NADECO chairman who did not conclude election that resulted in 12 2/3 conundrum. In this context, I mean that INEC cannot conclude elections that political gladiators from the two political parties have decided to stall. Politicians who decide to make away with or stuff ballot boxes are the ones that trigger inconclusive elections. We should stop labeling INEC alone while debating the critical failure factors that have led to inconclusive elections.

But then here we go again in Ondo state, the new beat of Nigeria’s common enemies, the APC and PDP. They have relocated to Akure ready to pollute the political atmosphere in the state Pa Adekunle Ajasin, the tribune of the oppressed established as the capital of integrity in Yoruba-land. The state (then including current Ekiti state) where the people rejected the rigged 1983 governorship election result and chased away the declared winner, Chief Akin Omoboriowo. The most unprincipled African politicians called APC and PDP leaders have quietly turned the impoverished state into a theatre of the absurd. There is an APC governorship candidate in the state only a faction of the party supports.

There is another APC ‘candidate’ now running on the platform of AD. He lost the APC toxic primary to the present candidate. The PDP story has been more dramatic. The two factions of the Party that governed Nigeria from 1999 to 2015 have polarized the state where most workers have been owed salaries for about seven months. Ahmed Makarfi and Modu Sheriff are the owners of the two factions that have been dancing naked in the state. The two poisonous factions have a common judge in Abuja that has helped them to knock the campaign engines of the ruling Party in the state. At press time, Eyitayo Jegede, Makarfi’s factional candidate could not obtain any relief to sing a redemption song in the November 26 governor election in the state. Report indicated last night that Jimoh Ibrahim, Sheriff’s man will be the candidate. There are other candidates who are carrying flags of other parties. They are all parts of the fingers of the same leprous hands called PDP and APC, the new trouble with Nigeria.

It is a tragedy that an election campaign that should be anchored on the claims of “monumental achievements” of the Iroko himself, Governor Mimiko who has run the place for eight years is being fought in court. No one has read in the mainstream media the issues in the Ondo state election. The People of Ondo Southern Senatorial District, specifically, the Ikale, the Ilaje, the Apoi, and the Ijaw people spread across four local governments, Okitipupa, Ilaje, Irele and Ese-Odo local government councils have had their electricity disconnected for about three years. So are the people in Ore and others in Odigbo Local government council.

There are reports that parliamentarians and other political leaders from the zone have tried their best to restore electricity to the affected areas. But the truth is that the best the leaders including the governor have tried, have not yielded any result. The people are still in darkness. The people in the Northern Senatorial District, Ikare, Akoko and others too have been crying that the last eight years in the state have not been good to them.

This is testimony time. There are three universities in Ondo State. The one established in Okitipupa during the Agagu administration has been left unfunded. The oldest university, Adekunle Ajasin, University in Akungba, has also been underfunded. The academic and non-academic staffs too are being owed salaries. There is the University of Medicine just established by the Mimiko administration in Ondo town. No one has heard from any of the candidates very loudly if indeed Ondo state needs three state universities when there is a Federal University of Technology in Akure. There is the oldest College of Education in Nigeria, Adeyemi College of Education, Ondo that has been awarding degrees for more than 30 years. How have high school students been performing in WAEC, NECO and JAMB examinations in recent years?

This is the way education funding and policy can be assessed in Nigeria. These and others should be election campaign issues in Ondo state, a good part of South West where education used to be an industry. What of the abandoned Okitipupa-Ayeka-Araromi- Irele road and bridge project then Governor Agagu almost completed before he was removed eight years ago. Is this not the time for questions to be asked the Mimiko government why eight years was not enough to complete just a small portion of the road that links four local governments? There was a recent report that the completion road project was awarded three months ago for N1.2 billion. That is a political project that may not be executed before next Saturday.

The point is that it is time for a national conference on how to take the steam of election outcome out of the judiciary. Now, the tragedy of Nigerian democracy is that the people no longer decide those to lead them. The courts now impose candidates on the hapless people. This is unconscionable.

Echoes of Police Report on 2007 Ondo ‘Guber’ Election
Not many people would remember that the late Dr. Olusegun Agagu was deeply troubled by former President Goodluck Jonathan’s recourse to political correctness by the way he (Jonathan) handled a very sensitive Police report on the 2007 Governorship Election in Ondo State. Specifically, the special police report, which was not to cause a judicial review of the case decided by the Court of Appeal in Benin would have given the nation some insight into how some elected leaders secured dubious mandates from the judiciary.

Olusegun Agagu

Olusegun Agagu

Agagu had in May, 2010, addressed a petition to President Goodluck Jonathan claiming that the two judgments that removed him from power were essentially based on fake security reports. The former governor pleaded with Jonathan to order investigation of his claims. He had written in the petition: “My tenure as Governor of Ondo state was terminated on 23rd February, 2009 upon the verdict of the Court of Appeal sitting in Benin which confirmed the rulling of the Justice Nabaruma-led Tribunal that awarded the gubernatorial elections of 14th April, 2007 to Dr. Mimiko of the Labour Party.

“Essentially, the verdict of the tribunal and the Appeal Court were based on the acceptance by the judges that elections in 10 LGAs where PDP won were marred with irregularities and violence and therefore cancelled over 63% of votes cast in these LGAs while retaining all the votes in the seven LGAs where Labour Party won. In both judgments, the decision of the judges was substantially based on the fake security reports purportedly written by SSS, which flawed the elections only in the local government areas where I won.

“It must be emphasized that our lawyers objected to the admission of these purported SSS reports especially since the SSS officer subpoenaed stated clearly in the open Tribunal that the Department of State Security Service (SSS) did not have such reports. In spite of this, the judges still laid credence on the fake reports stating that the court is not concerned with how the evidence was obtained.”

The former governor had added in the petition that he was not interested in the judicial review of his case but that, “It is clear that if people who perpetrate forgery to pervert the course of justice and democracy and thereby change the course of lives of millions of people are allowed to go scot-free, they will be further emboldened to create even greater harm to our fledging democratic experiment.” President Jonathan actually directed the police authorities to investigate the claims of Dr. Agagu, noting that such inquiries could curb corruption in the judiciary. The Police report was submitted to the government.

Report of the Police Special Investigation Unit (SIU) confirmed that the security reports, which the Labour Party (LP) tendered before the Justice Nabaruma-led Ondo State Election Petition Tribunal to prove that its candidate, Governor Olusegun Mimiko, won the 2007 governorship election in the state were forged.

The report, entitled: “Police investigation report on a case of forgery and altering of State Security Service report”, said eight of the nine security reports presented by the LP before the tribunal were discovered to be fake. The then Director General of the SSS (now DSS) confirmed the forgery to the court and the Police Special Investigation Panel. The report, which was in the custody of the then Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Mohammed Bello Adoke, was secretly released to Agagu after Governor Mimiko had secured a second term, which began in February, 2013. Agagu died seven months after (September 13, 2013).

The report recommended that lawyers and Labour Party leaders who procured and tendered the fake security reports should be arrested and prosecuted. No one was arrested before President Jonathan and AGF Adoke left office in 2015.

Besides, Agagu wrote to the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) on the basis of the findings of the Police Special Investigation Panel, which discovered that the security reports used by Mimiko to displace the former governor from power were forged. The then CJN did nothing though the NJC. This historical context indicates that unethical judicial intervention in the electoral process began long ago but when Agagu drew attention of the nation to it, the authorities did nothing.

*”Grammar School” returns next week.

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