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Ademola Adeleje, Osun State Gov-elect
A suit filed by his rival in the Peoples Democratic Party’s primary, Prince Dotun Babayemi, at the Court of Appeal, Akure, has sent jitters down the spines of Ademola Adeleke, Osun State governor-elect’s followers.
Members of the group, in separate interviews on Monday, admitted that the suit constituted danger to the PDP’s victory at the Osun State governorship election on Saturday, adding that the party had begun reconciliation with Babayemi.
Those of them who spoke included Osun acting PDP Chairman, Dr. Adekunle Akindele, the Director of Media, Osun State PDP, Oladele Oluwabamiji, and the Secretary of the PDP Legal Committee, Hashim Abioye.
Adeleke’s camp, it was gathered, was concerned that the external forces could exploit the case to truncate the party’s victory
PDP in Osun State had on March 8 conducted two governorship primaries featuring Adeleke and Babayemi.
While the primary which was held at the Osogbo City Stadium, under the supervision of Deputy Governor of Bayelsa, Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, produced Adeleke, Babayemi was declared the winner at the primary held at the Children and Women Development Centre, Osogbo.
Consequently, Babayemi headed for the Federal High Court in Osogbo seeking to be declared the valid governorship candidate of the PDP.
But the court in a judgment by Justice Nathaniel Ayo-Emmanuel affirmed Adeleke as the validly elected governorship candidate of the Osun State PDP.
Dissatisfied with the ruling, Babayemi filed an appeal at the Court of Appeal, Akure, challenging the judgment of the lower court and seeking to be declared as the PDP governorship candidate.
The Director of Media of the Osun State PDP, Oluwabamiji, noted that all aggrieved party members constituted danger to the PDP victory, adding that no opportunity would be given to external forces to exploit the situation.
Said Oluwabamiji: “My take is that any member of our party that is aggrieved is constituting some kind of danger, not to mention court cases.
“Grievance of major gladiators is enough as admittance of danger. I am aware that our leaders are not sleeping over it. They are still talking to Prince Dotun Babayemi and others in the party, not minding our victory at the polls. We are always better together. We are not taking anyone for granted.
“We believe everyone should come on board now so we can have a seamless administration; so that we can deliver our promises to the good people of Osun State. You know we cannot do that on the platform of rancourous relationship as a political party”.
Expressing confidence that Babayemi would yield to sound reasoning, the party chieftain said efforts were ongoing to pacify the factional governorship candidate.
Stated he: “Dotun Babayemi is a prince and I’m sure that the blue blood in him will speak to his veins. We need a bit of fresh air which the good people of Osun State have put in place via the verdict during the gubernatorial election.
“We are still trying to talk to him and manage the situation. Differences cannot help anyone. We have seen the worst of what internal rancour can do to a political party. We won’t do anything that will leave us open to some other forces trying to creep in”.
The Osun acting PDP Chairman, Akindele, expressed optimism that the case would be withdrawn and the matter resolved amicably.
Assured Akindele: “In the first place, it is a mere academic exercise but since he is a member of our party and he is aggrieved, we have been meeting to find a political solution to it. We are optimistic that it will be resolved amicably and he will withdraw the case before Wednesday”.
The Secretary of the PDP Legal Committee, Abioye, explained that the case came up for hearing on July 13 and that the Appellate Court had reserved judgment indefinitely on the matter.
He said before the Osogbo Federal High Court gave judgment on Babayemi’s case against Adeleke, an Abuja Federal High Court had earlier ruled in favour of the Osun governor-elect in a matter he instituted against the PDP and the Independent National Electoral Commission in which he asked the court to declare him the validly elected governorship candidate of the party in Osun.
Abioye said it was after Adeleke had won at the Federal High Court, Abuja, that the Federal High Court, Osogbo, also ruled on the matter in his favour.
Said be: “Before Osogbo Federal High Court gave judgment on Babayemi’s matter, what many people don’t know is that there was a judgment of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja which validated the candidature of Senator Nurudeen Ademola Adeleke Jackson as the governorship candidate of the PDP in Osun State.
“That judgment came before that of the Federal High Court, Osogbo, in the suit instituted by Prince Dotun Babayemi. But after the judgment in the suit instituted by Adeleke at the Federal High Court, Abuja, against INEC and PDP, Prince Babayemi, not being a party to the suit, sought leave to appeal as an interested party.
“But the Court of Appeal, Abuja, dismissed the suit as lacking in merit. As at the time the judgment of Court of Appeal in Abuja came, the Federal High Court in Osogbo had delivered its judgment in the case instituted by Babayemi and the matter was also struck out as the court said Babayemi lacked locus standi.
“The Abuja Court of Appeal referred to the judgment of the Osogbo Federal High Court in its judgment”.
The PDP Legal Committee secretary further disclosed that the Court of Appeal ruled that Babayemi did not participate physically in the primary election conducted by the National Executive Committee of the party which is the authority recognised under the law.
Added he: “It was after the decision of the Abuja Court of Appeal that Babayemi then appealed the judgment of the Osogbo Federal High Court to the Court of Appeal, Akure.
“The appeal has been taken, parties have argued their briefs and everyone awaits the judgment of the court. The case is reserved for judgment but the date is not yet communicated
“In the first place, the case is a mere academic exercise, but since he is a member of our party and he is aggrieved, we are already meeting to find a political solution to it. We are optimistic that it will be resolved amicably and he will withdraw the case”.
Kayode Oladeji, spokesperson for the Babayemi Campaign Organisation, could not be reached for comment as calls to his line rang out. He did not reply to a text message sent to him on Monday either.
Babayemi was also unable to be reached for comment on Adeleke’s victory as his phone was switched off. A text message sent to him was not replied as at press time.
But a source in the Babayemi Campaign Organisation, said there were moves to stop further action on the litigation, saying many leaders were appealing to Babayemi to drop his grievances.
Said he: “There have been meetings on the matter. It is not a small matter and many leaders are not keeping quiet on the court case at Akure Court of Appeal. But no decision yet from Babayemi”.
However, Sunday Bisi, Director General, Adeleke Campaign Organisation, in a media chat, denied the existence of a factional governorship candidate in the party.
Said he: “We do not have any factional candidates. INEC had published the names of candidates of every political party. There was nowhere in the publication that we had two governorship candidates.
“So, it will be wrong and unlawful of you to say someone is factional; we do not have it again. There is one candidate and that is Ademola Adeleke. The party is one indivisible element. We do not have a faction in the PDP. For now, I know that PDP is one. And if anybody has approached any law court, let the court decide”.
But a source revealed that before the governorship election, Babayemi’s camp had demanded a senatorial ticket and two House of Representatives seats to drop the case at the Court of Appeal.
Added the source: “Before the elections, there was a move for reconciliation and the Babayemi faction demanded a senatorial ticket and two House of Representatives tickets. They were told that would not be possible but they were promised that an inclusive government would be run when Adeleke emerges as the governor”.
Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, a former governor of the state, who supported the primary that produced Babayemi in March, had on Sunday congratulated Adeleke.
In a statement in Okuku, Osun State, Oyinlola described Adeleke’s victory at Saturday’s election as a divine validation of his efforts.
Stated Oyinlola: “That you emerged victorious in the poll was, no doubt, a product of God’s favour and people’s love powered by long years of planning and single-minded determination to serve our people as the state’s chief executive.
“As one of your predecessors, I am privileged to know that the task ahead is very enormous and the load very heavy. I, however, pray that God Almighty will help you to successfully discharge the responsibilities put on your shoulders by this mandate of our people”.
Findings indicate that lawyers to the state governor have begun studying the results from some polling units in the state with a view to identifying any irregularities.
The three lawyers working on the matter are, Mr. Kola Adegoke (SAN), Dr. Abiodun Layonu (SAN) and Senator Bashir Ajibola, who is also the Director-General of Oyetola’s campaign.
A letter, it was learnt, would soon be forwarded to the INEC to obtain certified true copies of result sheets to compare them with the ones signed by polling agents.
Should they establish a solid case, Oyetola will be expected to set up a larger legal team made up of some of the most notable senior advocates to challenge the victory of the PDP.
Stated an aide to Oyetola: “For now, our internal lawyers are looking through the available documents for any irregularities. Should we establish a good case, we will hire some of the biggest senior advocates to challenge the PDP’s victory in court”.
Confirming his involvement in Oyetola’s legal matter, Adegoke said that he and his colleagues were still sifting through the documents, adding that because election matters were time-bound, he and the team would have to work quickly.
Said Adegoke: “We are still looking through the documents for now. Once we are satisfied, we will take the appropriate steps. We have not made any official statement on the election for now because we are still working on it.
“The matter is limited by time so we will make sure that we wrap up everything within the time limited by law”.
Meanwhile, more commendations have trailed the successful conduct of the governorship poll with the United States Mission and British High Commission in Nigeria congratulating the people of Osun state, INEC and the security personnel.
Said the US Mission in a statement on Monday: “We commend the concerted efforts of the Independent National Electoral Commission, staff and security personnel who helped facilitate a secure process that reflected the will of the people.
“We encourage all Nigerian citizens to register to vote now so that your voice can be heard in the national and state elections in 2023”.
In a statement on Monday titled, ‘Statement on the Osun State Governorship Election 2022’, the United Kingdom noted that there were improvements in the electoral process in Osun State compared to the recent Ekiti governorship polls.
Offered the statement: “We note that the results released by the Independent National Electoral Commission are consistent with the results obtained through civil society-led Parallel Vote Tabulation process.
“We commend INEC, the security agencies, civil society partners led by the Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room and all stakeholders for their contribution to the success of the process”.
The UK government, however, frowned at the incidents of vote-buying and called for the prosecution of those involved.
The Board of Trustees Chairman, PDP, Walid Jibrin said Adeleke’s victory was a turning point for the party’s success in 2023 polls.
While congratulating the governor-elect, the PDP chieftain noted that with the victory, the Osun people had sent a clear message on the party’s stand in the whole country, come 2023.
But the North Central Coordinator, Tinubu Support Organisation, Mallam Yinka Oniyangi said that the defeat of Governor Oyetola would not affect the chances of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the Presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress in the 2023 elections.
Said Oniyangi while hosting members of Tinubu support group and APC stakeholders in Ilorin, Kwara state on Sunday: “What happened in Osun governorship election is a lesson to all of us but Asiwaju Tinubu’s accountability measurement is different from the state measurement given his success when he was governor of Lagos State.
“I’m very confident that it is not going to have any effect especially on the 2023 Presidential election. The Osun State politics is about accountability and performance of the governor. Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu is measured on his performance in his past records as governor of Lagos State and the narrative has not changed”.
Meanwhile, there are indications that the APC presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu will only congratulate Adeleke, depending on the action of Oyetola in that regard.
Tinubu’s Campaign Organisation, on Monday gave this indication in an interview.
Bayo Onanuga, spokesperson for Tinubu’s Campaign Organisation, said Tinubu was waiting for Oyetola before taking the next step.
Emphasised Onanuga: “The governor is the person on ground and he says he is studying the result. When he finishes studying the result, the governor will congratulate Adeleke if he needs to congratulate him. So Asiwaju is waiting for the governor to do the needful before he can speak”.
Oyetola had in a statement by his Spokesman, Ismail Omipidan told his supporters to remain calm, and that the people of the state to go about their businesses without let or hindrance.
The Independent National Electoral Commission had on Sunday declared Adeleke as the winner of the election after defeating his closest challenger, Oyetola, who won in 13 local government areas.
Adeleke has said he is expecting Oyetola to have called to concede defeat at the governorship election held on Saturday.
This is just as Adeleke said his billionaire elder brother, Dr Adedeji Adeleke, gave strong backing to his governorship bid, including giving him “a lot of money” to run the campaign, the reason he prostrated before the elder Adeleke when he (Ademola) was announced the winner of the election.
The governor-elect made this known on Monday when featuring on Politics Today, a current affairs programme on Channels Television.
Adeleke said the people of Osun had been “yearning to retrieve their stolen mandate” and that they did on Saturday, and he is proud of them. He also noted that he went back to school in the United States of America after losing his first attempt at governorship in 2018 because he was a role model to young and old Nigerians, “to let them know that this man can do it at the age of 60 and I did it”.
Replied he when asked how he felt for being the second from the Adeleke family to seek the governorship seat in Osun: “God just smiled on our family, maybe for our goodies to Osun people”.
Adeleke said when he saw the congratulatory message from President Muhammadu Buhari, despite being in the APC, he had the plan to visit the President “and tell him thank you for the message.” He noted that the party usually does not congratulate the opposition, “maybe he is trying to leave a legacy that the Electoral Act that he signed, that he meant it”.
Said Adeleje on whether Buhari had a role to play in his victory: “I have to give him credit because if he did not sign it, there would have been room for rigging”.
Responded he when asked if his opponent had reached out to him after the electoral victory: “No, not yet. Maybe he will do it today or tomorrow but I still expect him to call me and be civilised about it, and just accept defeat. That is all. This is democracy”.
The governor-elect also explained why he prostrated before his elder brother and father to superstar singer, Davido, immediately he was announced winner of the election.
Said Adeleke while speaking on the video that has gone viral on the Internet: “My brother called me; he said ‘Demola, listen, you don’t have anything to be ashamed of. You contested two elections and you won both. The second one, they stole it from you. This second one, because you are going there to serve, you are going to help the people of Osun State out of poverty, out of slavery. You are going to do it and I am going to support you, whatever that it takes – financially, monetarily. That is why I had to do what I had to do. He gave me a lot of backing. He gave me a lot of money”.
The governor elect, who broke down in tears while talking about the death of his elder brother and the first civilian governor of Osun State, Senator Isiaka Adeleke, gave credit to Davido for his electoral victory.