Ondo Poll: PDP Chieftains Finger El-Rufai, Fayemi, Fashola in Jegede’s Substitution

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•Alleges connivance with INEC, DSS to replace him
Akintunde Akinwale
Concerned chieftains of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday fingered Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai and Minister for Solid Minerals Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, in the legal tussle that led to the replacement of Mr. Eyitayo Jegede as its standard-bearer in the next Ondo election.

They, also, alleged that the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami and his Power, Works and Housing counterpart, Mr. Babatunde Fashola played key roles in the intrigue that led to the acceptance of a business mogul, Mr. Jimoh Ibrahim as the PDP flagbearer in the state.

At different fora yesterday, the chieftains alleged that el-Rufai, Fayemi, Malami and Fashola connived with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and Department of State Services (DSS) to replace Jegede as the PDP candidate in the November 26 guber polls in Ondo State.

One of the chieftains, who spoke privately on the Ondo PDP crisis, disclosed that five lawyers working in the INEC categorically gave legal advice against hasty replacement of Jegede as the PDP flagbearer in the state.

Despite their legal advice against substituting Jegede for Ibrahim, he said el-Rufai leveraged on his long-term relationship with an INEC National Commissioner, Mrs. Amina B. Zakari to ensure Jegede’s replacement.

He alleged that some concerned leaders at different levels had investigated what informed the decision of INEC “to reject Jegede whose allegiance lies with the Senator Ahmed Makarfi faction and accept Ibrahim with the Ali Modu Sheriff faction. This was not the case in Edo. What has changed?”

He alleged that el-Rufai was “behind the travails of Jegede. He connived with Fayemi, Fashola, Malami and the National Legal Adviser of All Progressives Congress (APC), Dr. Muiz Banire to wreck Jegede’s candidature. And the reason is to give the APC candidate, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu easy ride to power.”

Another chieftain disclosed that the trio of el-Rufai, Fayemi and Malami mounted pressure on the DSS and INEC “to enforce court order that declared Ibrahim as the authentic candidate of the PDP while an application for stay of execution has been filed and the INEC has been put on notice.”

The chieftain disclosed that it was on this ground that five INEC lawyers advised against hasty substitution of Jegede, though the electoral umpire rejected the legal advice of its own counsels and yielded to undue interference.

After the INEC lawyers advised against replacing Jegede with Ibrahim as the PDP candidate, the chieftain alleged that el-Rufai leveraged on his relationship with Amina “to enforce the court order. Amina Zakari served under el-Rufai when he was the Minister of Federal Capital Territory (FCT) under ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo”

Originally, the chieftain explained that Amina Zakari was appointed a Special Assistant to the President and was subsequently deployed to FCT.
At FCT, Zakari served as the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Social Development as well as Agriculture and Rural Development between 2004 and 2007.

Aside, he alleged that it was el-Rufai who nominated her “for the INEC national commissionership slot during the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan. She is also a nephew to President Muhammadu Buhari.”

Another PDP chieftain expressed concern over the APC approach to power, noting that the game plan was to destroy the PDP, noting that the government in power “is APC. We cannot underrate what it can do to undermine us.”

After a meeting with the president last week, the chieftain noted that Buhari promised Ondo State Governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko that the AGF would call him on the enforcement of the court order.

Since the meeting was held, the chieftain said the AGF “has not called. Mimiko has not heard from the AGF. Obviously, it is a conspiracy to give easy ride to power to Akeredolu because el-Rufai is vying for presidency in 2019. That is the game plan. But we are ready for them. Ondo will not accept it.”