Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun, has said his arrest in the United States over credit card fraud and forgery in 1986 is not sufficient grounds for his disqualification by the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Abiodun disclosed this while responding to a petition submitted by an APC member, Ayodele Oludiran on behalf of Oluwatobi Sofela of Ogun Bibire Unity Forum to the National Chairman of the party, Abdulahi Adamu.
Sofela had warned that the party might lose the governorship seat in Ogun due to Abiodun’s criminal history and its concealment from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) despite swearing an oath.
He also cautioned that the discrepancies in the governor’s educational qualifications might also cause opposition parties to question his eligibility for re-election bid, swaying the electorate to their side.
“If action is not taken, the chances of our great party, the APC, retaining the governorship seat in Ogun State shall be in jeopardy as previously seen in Bayelsa and Zamfara states,” Sofela said.
But the governor’s lawyer, the law chamber, Afe Babalola &Co, has urged the National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Abdullahi Adamu, to disregard a petition before his office, seeking the disqualification of Ogun State governor, Dapo Abiodun, from participating in the 2022 governorship primaries in the state.
The law firm, in the letter responding to the petition and dated April 19, 2022, described the petition dated 12th April, 2022, as full of spurious and unfounded allegations meant to mislead the party into disqualifying the governor from participating in the 2023 gubernatorial election.
In the letter received at the National Secretariat of the APC by Ambassador Samuel Jimba on April 26, the law chamber said that the petition was not served on the governor, which according to it “was a deliberate move to deprive him of the opportunity to set the records straight and knowing full well that the petition was characterized by falsehood and malice”.
While noting that the petitions are nothing more than the machinations of political jobbers and saboteurs sponsored by desperate opposition elements to disrupt the peaceful political atmosphere in Ogun, spread rumours/propaganda about the governor and mislead the APC, said the petitioner relied on hearsays, urging Senator Adamu and national leadership of the APC to “disregard the hearsays”.
According to Afe Babalola & Co, the allegation of discrepancies in Governor Abiodun’s INEC Form CF001 for 2015 and 2019, is a statute-barred, arguing that the allegation can only form the basis of a cause of action in court 14 days from the day the governor filed and deposed to the forms.
It further stated that the alleged contradiction in the two INEC Forms cannot longer be a ground to disqualify Governor Abiodun in the upcoming 2023 gubernatorial election, Forms CF001 for 2015 and 2019 are spent and cannot be used to determine the eligibility of the governor to contest in the next governorship election.
The law firm recalled that court cases were filed in court and petitions filed at the Governorship Election Tribunal seeking to disqualify the governor based on allegations of falsehood and inconsistency in the two INEC Forms, saying that both the Tribunal and courts were unanimous in their decisions not only that the allegations were status-barred, but held that the said Forms CF001 of 2015 and 2019 did not contain any false statement.
It further said the matter that the Supreme Court of Nigeria had also affirmed the decisions of the Tribunal and the Appeal Court, by dismissing the petition of false statement against the governor.
On the allegation that the governor had been convicted for an offence in 1986, the chamber said the petitioner failed to attach any court judgment to the petition to this effect, hence, the allegation was baseless, asking the APC top echelon to discountenance as such.
The firm also denied the allegation in the petition that the governor has a former name, declaring that the governor has always been known as Prince Adedapo Oluseun Abiodun, adding that “he never bore the name ‘Shawn Michael Davis’ or any other name however described.
“His name is reflected in all his certificates and other former documents. We urge Your Excellency to disregard the petitioner’s unfounded allegation”, it pointed out.
Afe Babalola & Co, however, concluded that ” Your Excellency, it is not in doubt that all the allegations in the petition relate to our client’s Forms CF001 for 2015 and 2019 are baseless and unfounded. As shown above, the High Court of the FCT, Governorship Election Tribunal, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court have all held that the said allegations are unfounded and status-barred so that there would be no basis for disqualifying our client.
“Our client has been adjudged by the Tribunal and courts to be eminently qualified to contest the 2019 Ogun State gubernatorial election, which he won landslide.
“Since, as of today, the courts have held that our client is qualified under CFRN, the party cannot impose additional grounds for disqualification on him. Also, the APC Constitution and Guidelines for the conduct of primary elections cannot override the CFRN. Therefore, the party has no vires to prevent our client from contesting any election under its banner.
“As rightly admitted by the petitioner, only a court of law can disqualify our client. The party cannot disqualify him or prevent him from contesting in the party’s primary election.
“Your Excellency, our client is ready and willing to, at the screening stage for the party’s primary election, present his credentials and relevant document (including his primary school certificate, which has been alleged to be nonexistent) to establish his eligibility to contest in the upcoming 2023 governorship election in Ogun State.
“Therefore, we urge the party not to be distracted or misled by unfounded allegations aimed at preventing the party from presenting our client, who is the best candidate for the 2023 gubernatorial election, as the party’s flag bearer. We also urge the party not to give credence to any rumour which may scuttle the party’s chances in the said election.
“Finally, we pray that the petition should be disregarded as it is fraught with falsehood, speculation, inaccuracies “.