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Home » Ogun tribunal: The day after the verdict

Ogun tribunal: The day after the verdict

Saturday, September 30, 2023 was a day like no other in the political calendar of Ogun State. Although it was the day, the State Governorship Election Tribunal delivered its verdict on the petition of Oladipupo Adebutu, and the People’s Democratic Party, (PDP) against the reelection of Ogun State governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, the events following it symbolically bring the metaphor of the spring season in the political geography of the State.

If the spring season signifies renewal and hope and serves as a reminder that after every hardship comes ease, mirroring the resilience inherent in nature and in man, that transition was given expression in Ogun State soon after. It unfolded dramatically with the unanimous ruling of the three-member tribunal led by Justice Hamidu Kunaza that struck out the petition on the grounds that it is “incompetent, defective, disjunctive and lack merits.”

For close to 12 hours that the judgement took to read, furtive, forced smiles and furrow glances danced across the court room and across the adjoining streets of Oke Yeke, Isabo, Kuto up till Naiwair-Ud-Deen – almost 5 kilometre square in estimation and with partisan interests across the state. The palpable, eerie atmosphere was like the peace of the graveyard.

It reminded many of a similar scenario and pronouncement at the same venue four years earlier when the then panel of the 2019 guber, Justice Yusuf Halilu described the petition brought by Hon Abdulkabir Adekunle Akinlade of the Allied Peoples Movement, APM, against Prince Dapo Abiodun, of the All Progressives Congress, APC, as “lazy, fictitious, malicious, and mischievous,” and ending with another sinisterly unkind cut: “The petition is destined to fail, fails and is hereby dismissed.”

Coincidentally, Akinlade, then then candidate of the APM ran on the PDP ticket alongside Hon. Adebutu in the March 18 election. Last Saturday, the Kunaza panel found no merit in the mountain of documents presented in over 200 Ghana-must- go bags and claims by petitioners that thugs, whom they associated with the APC, disrupted the election in over 99 polling units, thus allegedly stopping over 40,000 voters from voting or having their votes counted. It further said the petitioners failed to prove their allegations of non-compliance, over-voting, disenfranchisement of voters and corrupt practices during the polls.

However, contrary to reports that party faithful might engage themselves in violent attacks, the combined security forces, comprising men of the Nigeria Police Force, led by CP Abiodun Alamutu, the Department of State Security Service (DSS) and Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and others mounted sentry, took charge of security at the premises of the Chief Magistrate Court, Isabo, and its immediate environs to avert a descent to chaos or a contrived scene painted at the beginning of the trials by PDP chieftain, Segun Sowunmi, who alleged being rough-handled.

The mood on the day of the judgement was that of sobriety, anxiety and uncertainty as party faithful milled around the court premises. The expectation that their political party would be victorious at the end of the day. As dusk set it, the mood, after several hours of waiting, changed to that of partying and carnival as the shout of wild jubilation rented the air in the APC camp. By the time, Justice Kunaza finished reading his judgment, all PDP supporters were nowhere to be found; they had hurriedly left the court premises.

Read also: Former LG chairman in Ogun docked for accusing Abiodun of fund diversion

With that the majority have had their way while the minority had their say. Expectedly, PDP and Adebutu said they are heading for the appeallate court. They are premising their case on what they speculated was the judgement of the tribunal based on “technicalities”. Whether the Court of Appeal or even the Supreme Court would reverse the verdict of the Court of first instance remains to be seen. But other opposition parties under the aegis of the Inter Party Advisory Council in the State said the case is dead on arrival at the higher courts.

Addressing a press conference in Abeokuta on Tuesday, IPAC’s State Chairman, Engr. Samson Okusanya described the statement credited to PDP after the judgement, which discredited the verdict, as docile and out of crass ignorance from political merchants:

“Ladi Adebutu and his team of lawyers ought to have known that law and facts are not based on technicalities but rather on fairness and objectivity of the legal process which stipulates that the petitioner ought to have frontloaded certain information in the petition. We salute the judiciary and most importantly members of the Tribunal led by Justice Hamidu Kunaza for a job well done.

“The PDP and her candidate should as a matter of importance, discontinue his planned wild goose chase at the appellate Court and accept the will of God,” he surmised on behalf of the other party chairmen, thus confirming that all but PDP had acquiesced.

For Gov. Abiodun seems to be gaining more grounds with its inclusive governance model since other opposition elements within the APC-fold that temporarily ceded support for the African Democratic Congress, ADC, candidate, Biyi Otegbeye returned to pledge loyalty to the governor. The group led by its erstwhile chairman, Chief Derin Adebiyi, returned to the mainstream party, leaving former Governor Ibikunle Amosun in the political Siberia of the state.

He noted that the validation of the mandate by the tribunal only meant the revalidation of his tripartite agreement and social contract between himself, the good people of Ogun State and God. The mammoth crowd of civil servants that welcomed him after his victory at the Tribunal confirmed their solidarity with the helmsman. Expressing gratitude, Abiodun enthused that the judiciary was firm, fair and transparent in its judgement that affirmed his victory.

“Yes, we worked very hard in the first four years of our tenure against all attempted distractions. We worked very hard on our re-election. We campaigned across the nooks and crannies of the state and we won that election fair and square.

But, some mischievous individuals decided that, that defeat was not enough for them, they had to go to court, having failed to purchase that election. I want to thank the Almighty God for yet again reaffirming our victory.

We thank the judiciary for standing for what is true and just. It was a diligent, meticulous and transparent judgement, leaving no one in doubt, except for those that want to continue to be mischievous,” he said.

Since then 24 hour seems not to be enough for a day’s work. Drones have been deployed to fight insecurity, especially kidnapping and banditry, Abiodun told the new General Officer Commanding (GOC), 81 Division, comprising Ogun and Lagos states, Major General Mohammad Usman, who paid him a courtesy call in his office at Oke-Mosan.

The seemingly intractable failed portions on Lagos-Ota-Abeokuta expressroad would also be fixed sooner than later, going by the deal he cut with the Minister of Works, Dave Umahi and everything is being done to operationalised the aerotropolis at Iperu-Ilishan with the ground breaking of the 200-house Aviation city on the periphery of the Agro-Cargo Airport, penultimate week.

An unrepentant champion of Public Private Sector Partnership, Abiodun assured the visiting Consul General of the United States on Wednesday that he would partner more in the areas of the economy, good governance, security, climate change and human capital development around the world.

“The state’s strategic location as the primary gateway to Lagos has contributed to its status as the industrial hub of Nigeria. Our state is home to one of the largest industrial zones in Sub-Saharan Africa, which includes the 8,000 hectares OPIC-owned Agbara industrial estate,” he said.

There is also the Federal Ogun-Guangdong Free Trade Zone, with 44 operational companies, factory tenants from across the world, with over 6,000 Nigerian employees and an estimated 100,000 metric tons of freight moving in and out daily.

According to the governor, his administration since 2019, assembled a team made up of highly resourceful technocrats and cerebral policy architects and conceptualised a transformational philosophy coined ‘ISEYA’, which is an acronym for Infrastructural Development, Social Welfare and Well-being, Education and Human Capital Development, Youth Empowerment and Agriculture and Food Security.

“Through this concept, we have strategically transformed the state with modern infrastructure, deliberate policy steps to attract businesses and moving the economy from being federal allocation focused to becoming the state with the third largest Internally Generated Revenue in the country,” he said.

The governor while appreciating the US government for its firm stance on democratic governance, specifically on the sanctity of the electoral process as well as supporting different reforms in the electoral process and taking an uncompromising position on electoral offenders.
There is no gainsaying that the tribunal’s judgement is an elixir for uncommon transformation to take root in Ogun State. Indeed, the judgement is propelling Gov. Abiodun to take the State to the next level, the distractions of litigation notwithstanding.

.Somorin writes from Abeokuta

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