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Ogun election petition: Why APM takes case to Supreme Court

By Gbenga Akinfenwa
01 December 2019   |   4:15 am
Some stakeholders in Ogun State were taken aback by the decision of the Ogun State governorship candidate of the Allied Peoples Movement (APM), Abdulkabir Adekunle Akinlade...

Senator Ibikunle Amosun

Some stakeholders in Ogun State were taken aback by the decision of the Ogun State governorship candidate of the Allied Peoples Movement (APM), Abdulkabir Adekunle Akinlade to approach the Supreme Court, to contest the result of the March 9, 2019 Gubernatorial election, after days of ruminating over the plan.

The Appeal Court did not only uphold the ruling of the Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal, which validated the victory of Prince Dapo Abiodun of the All Progressives Congress (APC), it also set aside the appeal filed by Akinlade.

Recall that Akinlade had dragged Abiodun before the Appeal Court, sitting in Ibadan, which upheld the decision of the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, in favour of Abiodun.

The Justice Yusuf Halilu-led tribunal on September 14 dismissed Akinlade’s petition, declaring Abiodun as winner of the election.

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 declared his intention to approach the Supreme Court, five days after the Appeal Court ruling of November 11.

Feelers from political groups showed that two factors may have influenced Akinlade’s decision to approach the Supreme Court, though he claimed it 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 the immediate past Governor of the state, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, believed to be the sole financier of the party.

Like the Biblical hand of Esau and voice of Jacob, he is being 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.

This, according to political watchers, is Amosun’s move to ‘take his pound of flesh’ from the deadly blow dealt him by the APC, which disallowed him from installing a successor in the state.

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 other factor being peddled by analysts is the possibility that the table may turn at the apex court in favour of the APM, considering the resources expended so far to contest the election, in addition to ‘help’ from Abuja.

When contacted on phone to comment on the moves, the media aide to Akinlade, Azeez Adelani said the party has decided not to comment on the Supreme Court move for now.

But The Guardian learnt that the APM members are resolute in their determination to fight to finish, until they exhaust all windows of opportunities on the issue.

In a swift reaction, the Governor, in a statement through his Chief Press Secretary, Kunle Somorin, said it is not surprising that Akinlade’s camp has approached the Supreme Court, he said what is rather surprising is that he has refused to accept the position of God, the people and the judiciary at different independent levels.

He said: “Much as it is their democratic right to test people’s will, we are however, confident that as they have met no victory during the two earlier constitutional procedures, they will equally record none in the highest court of the land.

“Our confidence is premised on the fact that all competent courts, while performing their duties in this regard, are guided by the constitution, the electoral act and the rule of law.”

He said the mandate, which the people voluntarily gave him will be reaffirmed, as he is not bothered by the shenanigans, adding that he will continue to ensure that dividends of democracy are delivered to the people for the next four years.

“Our esteemed legal team will meet the disgruntled remnants of APM at the highest court of the land and God willing, the people’s verdict shall be conclusively established.

Unperturbed by the legal threat, the state Chairman of APC, Chief Yemi Sanusi told The Guardian that APM would not achieve anything at the Supreme Court, because “the election was free and fair. Nothing will come out of their petition because everybody knew how the election went, there was no rigging at all.”

He said like any other entity, the party can exercise its right, “they can go to anywhere. After Supreme Court, there is nothing again, you can go to any length as far as judiciary is concerned, but they cannot achieve anything at the Supreme Court and if you tell them they will not agree with you.

“You know there are so many tactics in politics, some people may be deceiving them but at the end of the day, I don’t think there is anything they can achieve because the election was free and fair, nobody rigged it.”

However, it is rumoured that the ‘uncertainties’ surrounding the election petition issue is responsible for the delay in appointment of commissioners’ in the state.

Six months after he was sworn-in, the governor is yet to appoint commissioners to direct affairs of the ministries; instead, he appointed special assistants, personal assistants and consultants who have been managing the affairs of the state.

This, according to analysts may have slowed down the pace of development in the state, considering the number of abandoned projects inherited from the past administration, which needed urgent attention.

On July 4, the Governor had written the State House of Assembly requesting for deferment of appointment of commissioners in favour of senior special advisers and special advisers.

Though the Governor hinged his decision on the lean resources of the state, the low Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) and the lack of sustainability in borrowing to finance recurrent expenditure, The Guardian check showed there was more to it than just the parlous state of finance.

It was learnt then from impeccable sources within the APC in the state that one of the Governor’s unexpressed decisions for the deferment was not unconnected with the advise of a chieftain of the party, who counselled him to adopt ‘Aregbesola’s style’ of Osun State, where the state operated without commissioners for years.

Another reason, according to findings from reliable sources was that the Governor is in a dilemma regarding the list of possible nominees before him. It is reasoned that the party should wait for the verdict of the Supreme Court before the cabinet will be formed.

But the APC Chairman, Soyemi denied that the election petition has anything to do with commissioners’ nomination.

Soyemi said: “The man is just being careful so that he can do it in a better way, he wants to put round pegs in round holes, he doesn’t want to make any mistake and he needs to settle many things, everything is in top gear to nominate the commissioners.

“What is the relationship between nomination of commissioners with election petition? It is not stated in the Constitution when to nominate commissioners. I can confirm to you that nothing will come out of the petition because I know how the election went.”