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Ogun election petition: End of the road for Akinlade

By Gbenga Akinfenwa
22 December 2019   |   4:15 am
As the legal fire works on Ogun Gubernatorial Election was finally laid to rest during the week at the Supreme Court, Governor Dapo Abiodun would now heave...

Akinlade

Abiodun Hails Supreme Court Judgment
As the legal fire works on Ogun Gubernatorial Election was finally laid to rest during the week at the Supreme Court, Governor Dapo Abiodun would now heave a sigh of relief and concentrate more on delivery of good governance to the people of the state.

But for the Allied People Movement (APM) and its candidate Abdulkadir Adekunle Akinlade, it has been a good fight, as the party will now go back to the drawing board.

For now, Akinlade has exhausted his lifelines to contest the result that brought Abiodun of All Progressives Congress (APC) as the state Governor.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had declared Abiodun as duly elected Governor with a total of 241,670 votes against Akinlade’s 222,153 votes.

After the three-member Election Tribunal led by Justice Yusuf Halilu had on September 14 dismissed the petition filed by Akinlade and APM for being incompetent and lacking in merit, and declared Abiodun as winner, Akinlade approached the Appeal Court, sitting in Ibadan, Oyo State.

Among the grounds listed by Akinlade in the notice of appeal were; claims that the judgment of the tribunal was not based on the issues canvassed by the petitioners, especially in relation to the respondent’s academic qualifications.

On November 11, the Appeal Court again ruled in favour of Governor Abiodun. In a unanimous decision, the court justices said the appeal lacked merit and therefore struck it out.

But on Saturday, November 16, 2019, at the party’s Secretariat in Leme, Abeokuta, in the presence of party representatives from the 57 Local Governments and Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs), Akinlade announced his intention to approach the Supreme Court; his announcement came five days after the Appeal Court ruling of November 11.

However, last Wednesday, the Supreme Court put a final stop to his ambition, as it declared Abiodun as the duly elected governor.

Akinlade, a former member of the House of Representatives on the platform of APC, had rejected previous offers of reconciliation with the governor, especially at the time when his mentor and financier of APM, Senator Ibikunle Amosun was suspended by the party.

With the re-admission of Amosun to APC, it is obvious Akinlade has virtually been left in the cold, as his aspiration has hit the rock.

Before he approached the appellate court, nobody thought Akinlade would take further step to contest the result. Two factors, according to political analysts might have induced Akinlade’s decision to approach the Supreme Court, though he claimed the decision was unanimously agreed by elders of the party.

One of the factors, according to a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state, is the alleged influence of Amosun.

Like the Biblical hand of Esau and voice of Jacob, he was alleged to have instructed Akinlade and the party to fight on, with the hope that fortune might eventually smile on the party and Akinlade will clinch the state number one seat.

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 liquidates.

With the judgment, Akinlade might need to re-strategise on his next option whether to return to APC or pitch his tent elsewhere.

Efforts to get officials of the APM to react were unsuccessful. But the media aide to Akinlade, Azeez Adelani said the party would react soon but not now. “He needs to relax and strategise first before we can start another process.”

In its reaction, the APC in the state described the Supreme Court verdict as a validation of the popular saying that “when God says yes, no man can say no.”

In a statement signed by the Publicity Secretary of party’s Caretaker Committee, Tunde Oladunjoye, it said the verdict, which was in concurrence with the earlier judgments of the State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal and that of the Court of Appeal, Ibadan, was a reaffirmation that Abiodun is God’s project.

“To us as a party, despite the harassment, violence and boasts of men, God spoke on March 9, 2019, the highest court in the land, the Supreme Court, has spoken today, therefore the needless distraction arising from day-dreaming litigations and court-shopping syndrome has been finally and permanently buried; and our Governor can now squarely face the business of governance in the execution of mandate freely given him by the good people of Ogun State.”

He noted that the party has maintained right from the onset that Abiodun’s clear victory at the election was a divine mandate and a true reflection of the choice of the good people of Ogun State.

“We congratulate Prince Dapo Abiodun, the entire members of our party at all levels, we thank our leaders at the national level and we urge all genuine lovers of development in our dear Ogun State to join hands with the Omoluwabi Governor in taking the state to greater heights.”

The state Chairman of APC, Chief Yemi Sanusi told The Guardian that the court case is closed and all avenues have been exhausted. “From the beginning the case is clear because the election is free and fair. The next thing is for everybody to come back to the party and join hands with us. The door is open and we have been extending the hands of fellowship to everybody, whoever want to come in should do so, we are open to receive everyone.”

The Governor, in a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Kunle Somorin, hailed the Supreme Court verdict, describing it as not only a victory for the people, but for democracy, the judiciary and an attestation to the awesomeness of God.”