- Asks opponents to face him on the House floor on Tuesday
Shola Oyeyipo and Udora Orizu in Abuja
In spite of what it called an evolving smear campaign, the All Progressives Congress (APC), yesterday said it remained solidly behind its choice for the speaker of the Ninth House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila.
The party spoke through its National Publicity Secretary, Malam Lanre Isa-Onilu, who told THISDAY last night that those peddling allegations of misdeed against Gbajabiamila were wasting valuable time, advising them to save their energy for the contest coming up on the floor of the House on Tuesday.
The Coalition of United Political Parties, an amalgam of opposition parties had alleged that Gbajabiamila perjured in his Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Form EC001 by not disclosing an alleged conviction by the Supreme Court of the state of Georgia, United States.
Although Gbajabiamila’s camp denied this yesterday, Isa-Onilu said the APC’s candidate’s accusers were labouring in vain as the party was more than ever before sure that its choice was coasting home to victory.
“They are raising this allegation now because they have seen that our candidate is coasting home to victory,” he said, adding: “We advise them to save their energy for the fight on the floor on Tuesday.”
Isa-Onilu said the party was ramping up support for its candidate and was not wavering about its resolve to mobilise the entire machinery of the APC behind Gbajabiamila.
“We remain solidly behind him and Senator Ahmad Lawan,” he said.
At a press conference on Tuesday in Abuja, CUPP, had rejected Gbajabiamila as the next House speaker over his alleged conviction by a United States’ Supreme Court in Georgia.
However, in a counter press conference yesterday in Abuja, the Director-General, Gbajabiamila-Idris Wase Campaign Organisation, Hon. Abdulmumin Jibrin, said the allegations were “cocktails of lies” and “campaign of calumny orchestrated to poison the minds of party’s leaders against the APC Majority Leader.”
Jibrin said Gbajabiamila’s lawyers had been contacted to institute necessary legal actions against Ugochinyere and his backers.
“We wish to once again state emphatically clear that Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila has never been convicted for any crime in the United States of America, Nigeria or any other country around the world for that matter.
‘’He has never been accused of corruption and has no corruption case hanging on his neck in Nigeria or anywhere around the world. He has not committed perjury and has never committed perjury in Nigeria or any country of the world,” he stated.
He added that Gbajabiamila was eligible to contest in all previous elections and won and he is indeed eligible and qualified to contest for the office of speaker.
He said Gbajabiamila had severally responded to the allegations, provided clarifications and set records straight, stressing that the allegations had also been tested and struck out in court of law.
“The State Bar of Georgia has also written and categorically stated that there is no criminal conviction in the matter relating to Hon. Femi and he is currently an active member in good standing of the State Bar of Georgia, all these facts are in the public domain,” Jibrin said.
According to him, while Gbajabiamila has opted to maintain a dignified silence knowing truth to be a constant, he has instructed his lawyers to take legal steps against all those behind the allegations.
However, Ugochinyere said it was shocking that Jibrin denied the allegation of Gbajabiamila’s conviction by the Supreme Court of the State of Georgia.
“The only document they have to show for this is a worthless letter from the Georgia Bar Association. One wonders when it has become the duty of the bar association to sit on appeal over the judgment of the Supreme Court or to declare a person free from conviction.
“Femi Gbajabiamila should take it a step further by getting a letter from the registrar of the Supreme Court of Georgia that he was not convicted in a unanimous decision by a full panel of seven justices of the court. Maybe only then will he realise the futility of his antics,” he said.
He expressed the readiness of his group to meet Gbajabiamila in court, adding that he has been served court summons through the Clerk of the National Assembly.