Ogun APC, APM: Not yet time to mend fences
The decision of the Ogun State governorship candidate of the Allied People’s Movement (APM), Adekunle Akinlade to challenge the victory of the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Dapo Abiodun in the just concluded governorship election has shown signs of deepened animosity between members of both parties, who were formerly of same stock.
Governor Ibikunle Amosun who contested and won senatorial election under the APC but sponsored Akinlade and other candidates under APM had promised that members of the APM would return to the APC immediately after the election. But that has not happened and may not happen till the APM exhausts all options that are available to it. The party’s candidate Akinlade has filed an exparte motion before the Tribunal to order INEC to grant it access to all documents used for the election.
The build up to the March 9 election had seen members of both parties gunning for each other’s jugular in a highly tensed up the polity.
But the result of the election that jolted Amosun and his political godson, Akinlade saw the highly vilified and ‘oppressed’ Abiodun scoring 241,670 votes to defeat Mr. Akinlade who had 222,153 votes. The margin of difference is 19, 517.
The African Democratic Congress’ (ADC) candidate, Prince Gboyega Nasir Isiaka polled 110,422 votes; Buruji Kashamu of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) scored 70,290 votes, while Dimeji Bankole of the Action Democratic Party (ADP) recorded 9,666 votes.
Also, APC confirmed its superiority by clinching 15 out of 26 seats in the state House of Assembly, APM won seven seats, ADC, three while PDP won a miserly lone seat from Ijebu Igbo.
Before the declaration of the result, Akinlade had called on the electoral body to suspend the collation and announcement of results, alleging that some unidentified security men had invaded some coalition centres and changed the figures of the highly monetised election.
If APM goons had their way, they wanted the INEC to declare the election inconclusive and order a rerun in those areas they perceived infringements.
But the Chief Returning Officer and the Vice Chancellor, University of Ibadan (UI), Professor Idowu Olayinka was unperturbed and completed his assignment.
Immediately the result was announced and Abiodun was declared winner, the APM Director-General, Sarafa Ishola addressed a press conference and alleged that the collation of the results was hijacked and the process was compromised.
He alleged that top Federal Government officials went round some local government areas in the state and made party agents to sign filled result sheets under duress.
Claiming that the results announced by INEC did not reflect the wishes of the people, Ishola said: “The exercise, which started on a peaceful note was disrupted by hoodlums and unidentified uniformed men, who hijacked result sheets and went ahead to falsify the results in many councils, including, but not limited to Abeokuta South, Abeokuta North, Odeda, Ifo, Obafemi Owode and the local government areas in Ogun East Senatorial district.
“In some local government areas, such as Sagamu, the results were changed to deny the APM its well deserved victory. In other local government areas won by APC, the figures were altered to increase the margin between the APC and the APM.
“The disruptions were clearly designed to ensure that the APM did not meet the required constitutional requirement of 25 per cent votes in the LGAs that constitute Ogun East Senatorial district. They were also aimed at suppressing the electoral strength of the APM in Ogun Central Senatorial District.
“These infractions are against the provisions of the Constitution of Nigeria and the Electoral Act. I hereby, on behalf of the APM, formally reject the results of the collation process that was hijacked and compromised because it did not reflect the wishes of the people of Ogun State.
“The APM wishes to put INEC on notice that we shall explore all possible means within the provision of the constitution and the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to challenge this miscarriage of justice.”
Akinlade said that party agents, who had copies of the collated results in the areas where the infractions occurred, observed that the results were altered.
He said: “The results were collated in the evening and party agents had copies of those results. By the time we woke up in the morning, the results had been changed.
“I wrote to INEC and requested an investigation. But the commission went ahead to announce the results and we thought it was imperative for us to take this position now so that it would be on record that we did not accept that position as it is. We shall seek all options available under the law to redress this injustice.”
Again, Akinlade who said he had compelling reasons to approach the tribunal said he would not fold its hand and watch those who stole his mandate in APC to still go ahead and steal the mandate freely given to him by Ogun people.
He claimed that compelling evidence available to him and his team clearly shows that the APM won the election but was rigged out.
He said that his team had spent the last few weeks gathering evidence to prove this claim.
When reminded that he once said that he would accept the election result if he lost, Akinlade said that in this instance, he did not lose but was rigged out.
Akinlade also claimed that Abiodun was quoted as boasting that ‘Federal Might’ will be deployed to undermine the tribunal judgment regardless of how credible the APM evidence are.
He said: “They stole our APC mandate at the guber primaries on October 2018. They brought in armed uniformed men on the night of March 9, 2019, to manipulate and substitute election results, arrest and send the APM agents away from collation centres to achieve their plans to rig the election.
Akinlade, therefore, called on his supporters to remain calm and resolute while promising to restore their mandate and put smiles on their faces, no matter the cost.
He said: “My legal team has been directed to write the United States, United Kingdom, European Union and other international organisations over the electoral issues in the state during the just concluded governorship election. The invitation of the international organisations is to request them to send independent observers to monitor the state governorship tribunal case.
“I would formally write President Muhammadu Buhari and his deputy, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo on the need to protect my constitutional rights.”
Some APC members who thought the rejection of the result was a mere threat must have been jolted by the actions Akinlade, who has hired Onyechi Ikeazu (SAN), who just secured victory for the PDP against APC in Osun State as his lawyer.
The legal luminary will lead Mamman Osman, Sebastine Ahmed Raji, and 12 other lawyers in a legal tussle to unravel how the governorship election was lost and won in Ogun State.
The legal team had during the week filed an exparte motion before the Tribunal to order INEC to grant it access to all documents used for the election.
The APM in the petition with reference number EPT/06/GOV/01/2019 said the inspection is necessary to allow it to file a petition before the tribunal.
While the legal tango lasts, the relationship between APC and APM members in the state will remain that of cat and mouse.