Mimiko: There May Be Breakdown of Law and Order if INEC Insists on Jimoh Ibrahim

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Violence orchestrated by governor, alleges candidate  Makarfi’s faction expresses shock, warns against 1965/66 and ’83 violence   Fayose: APC, INEC out to kill democracy

Tobi Soniyi and Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja, James Sowole in Akure, Olakiitan Victor in Ado Ekiti, Akinwale Akintunde in Lagos

Governor Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State, after a visit to President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja yesterday, warned that the substitution of Eyitayo Jegede with Jimoh Ibrahim as the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the forthcoming governorship election in the state by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) could lead to violence.

As envisaged by Mimiko, sporadic protests erupted early in the day in Akure, the Ondo State capital and Ondo City over the recognition of Ibrahim by INEC.

But in a swift reaction, Ibrahim, in a press statement alleged that the violent protest was orchestrated by Mimiko.

The Ondo State governor told President Buhari that the substitution of Jegede, with Ibrahim could lead to breakdown of law and order in the state.

Mimiko, who spoke to State House correspondents after he met with the president behind closed doors, expressed shock at the sudden change in INEC’s position even as he described it as injustice.

He said the president promised to look into the matter and rectify the injustice if any. 

He said: “I’m shocked. In logic, in law and in politics, there is no basis for it whatsoever. The Jimoh Ibrahim factor in all of this is predicated on a court order given by Justice Abang. Incidentally, that court order is about zonal and state executives of PDP. That order is about 2019 election. Neither Ibrahim nor Jegede was party to the suit. 

“Ibrahim’s name was sent to INEC after a primary election was conducted in Ibadan without INEC monitoring it and without security agencies. When the name got to INEC and this Abang judgement was attached, INEC took the right decision initially by making it clear that it is not state or zonal executive that is empowered by the Electoral Act to conduct election. 

“Two, the Abang judgement on the basis of which they were putting pressure on INEC to accept Jimoh Ibrahim as a candidate was referring to 2019 election. 

“INEC had refused and discountenanced Ibrahim’s name as a candidate. Later, they went ahead and filed form 48 and from the blues. The same Justice Abang mandated INEC to replace Jegede who emerged through a primary process supervised by INEC and security agencies on live television with all delegates that were supposed to participate. 

“We didn’t want to take chances because somebody in INEC told us that they obey the last order in the commission. So we went to court and obtained two different orders mandating INEC not to substitute Jegede. 

“We served one on INEC around 10 am yesterday and we served INEC with the other one at the close of business around 3 pm. Only around 7 or 8 pm, we got to know that INEC, for no justifiable reason, had substituted Jegede’s name and replaced it with that of Ibrahim. 

“The question to ask is: on whose order has INEC done that? Apart from the fact that we have two restraining orders on INEC, INEC knows full well that Ibrahim’s primary was in Ibadan. There was no report by any security agencies that the security situation in Ondo State warranted the movement of the primaries to Ibadan or anywhere outside the state for that matter. Under INEC guidelines, the time for substitution of candidates had even elapsed.” 

Mimiko also expressed doubt about INEC’s readiness to conduct a credible poll in the state. 

He said: “This action potentially can cause a breach of peace. In Ondo State in the last seven and half years, we have done everything possible to put good governance on the table. We see this action as potentially dangerous. It can cause conflagration in the state and that is why as the chief security officer of the state, I have come to alert Mr. Presidnt of the potential danger of this injustice so that we can nip it in the bud.”

INEC’s Recognition of Ibrahim Shocking, Says PDP… 

A statement issued by the spokesman of the Senator Ahmed Makarfi-led PDP, Prince Dayo Adeyeye described the decision of INEC to recognise Ibrahim as not only shocking but surprising

The party said what INEC could have done in this circumstance was to maintain the status quo and stick to its own earlier decision pending a superior order or judgment from a superior court

“INEC monitored the primary election conducted in Akure, Ondo State by the  Senator Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi led PDP which produced Jegede, and did not monitor the purported primary election that produced Ibrahim which was said to have held in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.

“INEC sighted the order from Justice Okon Abang of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) high court as the reason for publishing Ibrahim’s name as PDP candidate but ignored another order from the Ondo State High Court, which is a court of coordinate jurisdiction, that compelled INEC to maintain Jegede’s name as the candidate of the PDP.

“This singular decision of INEC has generated sporadic reactions from the electorates in Ondo state leading to violent protest and damages. This could have been avoided if INEC had adhered strictly to the letters and characters of the Electoral Laws and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“We therefore warn that external forces should not seat in Abuja and set Ondo State ablaze.

“It is a known fact that Ondo people are politically sophisticated and any attempt to truncate the will of the people will be resisted vehemently. References should be made to the 1965/66 and 1983 political violence in the west that brought about the collapse of the 1st and the 2nd Republic. We should therefore be careful not to repeat history.”

Meanwhile Ondo State government has appealed for calm and peace over the conflicting pronouncements that emanated from the courts and INEC.

The state commissioner for Information, Mr. Kayode Akinmade in a statement said steps were being taken to ensure that there is no miscarriage of justice, saying that the will of the people shall be respected.

But the Jimoh Ibrahim Campaign organization alleged that some politicians in the state were using hoodlums to destabilize the state in the name of politics, stressing that the crisis was unwarranted.

The Director of Media and Publicity of the organisation, Mr Yemi Akintomide said Ibrahim was willing to welcome Jegede and his loyalists into his camp in the interest of the state, adding that “those who are behind the protest are well known to us but we are not ready to join issues with them. We will only advise them to embrace peace in the overall interest of our dear state.”

Protests in Akure, Ondo City…

The protest in Akure and Ondo City started around 6.30am, with factional members of the PDP moving round the two major towns, singing anti-Ibrahim songs and making burn fires on major roads in the two cities.

Though, no life was lost and nobody was injured during the protests, but the action caused disruption of traffic on major roads in the two cities.

Also, commercial activities were disrupted for several hours, while the protest lasted.

It was gathered that while the protests was going on, loyalists of Ibrahim vacated their homes for fear of being attacked by the protesters.

In Akure, the major Oyemekun/Adesida and Arakale roads were closed while motorists abandoned the areas.

Despite the sporadic gunshot by the combined team of security agents and firing of teargas, the protesting youths remained unperturbed. 

All commercial banks and shops were hurriedly closed, as many of the traders feared the protest might be hijacked by hoodlums. 

In an interview, one of the leaders of the protesters, Akiwunmi Ilori alleged that the ruling All Progressives Congress-led federal government was behind the emergence of Ibrahim and the crisis in the PDP. 

Ilori said: “The APC is using Jimoh Ibrahim to cause crisis within the PDP.  It is an open secret in Ondo State that Jimoh is no longer a member of the party. They are only using him to clear the ground for their candidate and this will not work. 

“This is Ondo State and it’s a very volatile state when it comes to politics. We want them to remember the 1983 saga; we don’t pray for such but if our right and the mandate of our candidate is trampled upon, this election might be another war.”

Addressing some of the protesters at the INEC office, the Ondo State Resident Electoral Commissioner, (REC) Olusegun Agbaje said Jegede’s name was removed sequel to a court judgment.

“We received a court order from the High Court in Akure on Wednesday but there was a subsisting ruling by Justice Okon Abang on Thursday and we had to comply with the order.”

Agbaje said that it was only another court order that could upturn the situation adding, “The situation will continue that way until the matter is decided by the Supreme Court, if the parties choose to proceed to the apex court. We do not have any candidate but we will always abide by the laws guiding the process.”

Speaking on the matter, the Chairman of the PDP in the state, Chief Clement Faboyede, described the removal of Jegede’s name as a mockery of democracy and an indication that the nation’s democracy “is dying in the hands of the APC led Federal Government.” 

He said INEC had attained the reputation of being fair to all before the coming on board of the APC led government, noting that no free and fair election had been held under the Buhari’s administration. 

He stated that Jegede was duly nominated through the party primary as stipulated by the electoral act and was witnessed by INEC but INEC had “succumbed to the pressure from some moles within the PDP.” 

He alleged further that the moles within the PDP believed that removing Jegede from the race would pave the way for easier manipulation of the election results in favour of the APC candidate.