Ondo 2020: Appeal Court may shift judgement due to pressure

Indication emerged that the Court of Appeal judgement earlier scheduled for Wednesday in the case brought before it by the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2020 election, Eyitayo Jegede against the election of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu may, after all, be shifted.

The Appeal Court in the Akure Division two weeks ago had reserved the verdict for Wednesday, 16th of June, this year.

Vanguard gathered in Akure, the state capital, that this was as a result of reported pressure from some interested personalities on the three-man panel headed by Justice Theresa Ngolika Orji-Abadua.

Counsel to Jegede, led by Onyeachi Ikpeazu, SAN, had in their briefs gave reasons why Governor Rotimi Akeredolu and his Deputy, Lucky Aiyedatiwa, should be removed from office because they were wrongfully nominated during the primary election conducted by their party, the All Progressives Congress (APC).

However, Akeredolu’s counsel, the APC, and that of INEC, Akin Olujimi, Lateef Fagbemi and Charles Edosanmwon in response punctured all the arguments of Jegede’s counsel submitting that the case was a pre-election matter and should be dismissed forthwith.

Vanguard was informed by a top politician in the state that the “move to shift the date from tomorrow (Wednesday) was coming on the heels of an allegation that a Federal Minister, in conjunction with a serving governor from the North-Eastern part of the country have been mounting pressure on the panel to shift the date.

“A senior member of the Bench from the North West is said to be liaising between the trio led by the minister and another member of the Appeal panel.

However, the source said that “It was unclear if the chairman, Justice Orji-Abadua has been reached to effect the postponement.

The source hinted that “the move to ‘arrest’ the judgment came after series of alleged meetings between the national leadership of the umbrella body of Fulani cattle breeders, Miyetti Allah and the North East governor who is believed to be close to the PDP governorship in the last election, Eyitayo Jegede, SAN.

Also, a top member of Miyetti Allah has expressed concern over “the continued stay in office of Akeredolu was not in the interest of the Fulani ethnic nationality.

According to him “Of course, Nigeria belongs to all Nigerians and the way the Ondo State governor is going, he is against the Fulani people and safety is not guaranteed under him at all.

“How can such a man that benefited from the Fulani to become governor set up what he calls Amotekun to be tormenting us?

“Did we make a mistake to support him against our own man who had spent all his life in Fulani territory in Adamawa, someone who can speak our own Fulfude language in the 2020 election?

“If we made a mistake, we are now going to correct that mistake by partnering with someone we understand and who knows us better to be there. Or is it not when Akeredolu is governor that he can threaten the unity of this country by asking some people to leave a place in Nigeria?

The source said that Jegede and the former Vice President Atiku Abubakar enjoy good relationship and that Atiku is equally the benefactor of the governor of Adamawa State, Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri.
The source recalled that Governor Akeredolu as the chairman of the South West Governors Forum played a major role in checkmating the nefarious activities of criminal herdsmen by spearheading the establishment of the South West Security Network, codenamed Amotekun.
Akeredolu and other southern governors have equally placed a ban on open grazing system in the six geopolitical zones of the country.
The source noted that the position of Akeredolu on activities of herdsmen and open grazing of livestock in the country have pitched him with the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami recently.
We don’t need to put pressure to postpone judgement ― Ondo PDP
Contacted on the allegation of mounting pressure on the Appeal Court panel, the Publicity Secretary of the PDP in the state Kennedy Peretei said “lt is not true, nothing like that from our camp here.
“lt is the APC and Akeredolu camp that are trying to mount pressure on the Panel through the CJN. But we believe in the judges, they are capable and will do justice accordingly. We don’t need to put pressure on the judges to postpone the judgement.
We’re not inclined to discuss shifting of date of verdict, it’s at the discretion of court ― Ondo Govt
The information and Orientation commissioner Hon Donald Ojogo in his reaction said “We don’t want to subscribe to the fact that any minister who is a member of the APC would want to cut corners to undermine and possibly unseat Akeredolu because of the views he holds strongly on national issues.
“There is nothing personal in whatever the governor has said. So to remove an APC governor and enthrone PDP and achieve what? I doubt it can ever happen, the Nigerian Judiciary is not that low and it cannot start with this.
“As regards whether or not the date would be shifted is at the discretion of the Honourable Panel which comprises eminent and distinguished jurists. We are not inclined to discussing that.”
Source: Vanguard Newspaper