The unending verbal war between two Ibadan kinsmen over 2015 Oyo governorship.
By; BAYO AKAMO.
There seems to be no end to the prolonged political verbal war between two prominent Ibadan kinsmen in the persons of Senator Rashidi Adewolu Ladoja and Governor Isiaka Adeyemi Ajimobi over the last governorship election in Oyo State with the duo busy firing verbal salvo at one another since days after the April election.
Senator Rashidi Ladoja contested the election under the platform of the Accord Party while Governor Abiola Ajimobi contested the election on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and both men hail from Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.
The unending political war reared its head when Ajimobi of the All Progressives Congress, APC, was declared the winner of the April 11, 2015 gubernatorial elections in Oyo State thus becoming the first person to be elected twice in the history of the ‘Pace Setter’ state.
Ladoja wasted little or no time in rejecting the result of the governorship election on April 12 when the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared Ajimobi of the APC the winner of the election as he faulted the announcement, alleging series of malpractices and vowing to reclaim his stolen mandate from his younger brother; Ajimobi through legal means.
True to his words, Senator Ladoja headed for the election petition tribunal to challenge the declaration of Senator Ajimobi of the APC as winner of the election on the allegation of gross electoral misconduct and malpractices.
At the end of the about four months legal fireworks, the Oyo State governorship election petitions tribunal sitting in Ibadan led by Justice Muhammed Maiyaki dismissed Senator Ladoja’s petition on the ground that “the petitioner has woefully failed to establish his case.”
Reading the unanimous judgment, Justice Mayaki held that the evidence of Senator Ladoja’s principal witness, Mr. Bimbo Adepoju, whose report of inspection of election materials used in the election ought to have provided strong foundation for the petition, Adepoju’s self confession that he is a farmer of arable crops, makes whatever evidence he might have given before the tribunal on the election documents, to be mere personal opinion since he (Adepoju) is not an expert. Emphasizing that “issues relating to card readers, election documents, etc need to be handled by knowledgeable experts as they are technical. Mr. Adepoju has said he is a farmer of arable products and that he is a member of Accord Party. So, Mr. Adepoju and his inspection team are not neutral party. Their report cannot be relied upon by this tribunal,” Justice Mayaki added that the allegations of non-accreditation of voters, non-voting and other malpractices alleged by the 28 other witnesses who testified for Senator Ladoja and Accord Party, were not proved beyond reasonable doubt.
“The reliefs being sought cannot be granted. The election and returns of Governor Ajimobi as the Oyo State governor is hereby upheld having scored the majority of votes cast in the April 11 election. Accordingly, the petition is dismissed”.
As expected, Governor Ajimobi, while reacting to the judgment hailed his victory saying it is God and the people of the state that made it possible for him to break the second term jinx and that the verdict had laid to rest all the innuendoes, evil machinations and falsehood being spread across the state and beyond by his opponents after his victory.
“I am of immense gratitude to God for this victory and for making it possible for me to break the second term jinx. I thank the good people of Oyo State for the confidence reposed in me by voting for me en masse for the second term in spite of innuendoes, evil machinations and falsehood by our opponents. Today’s judgment has strengthened my belief in the judiciary as the bastion of our fragile democracy and the bulwark of good governance. The judgment is not only a victory for my party, the All Progressives Congress, but also a victory for democracy and the rule of law. The road has not been smooth and it has been long but events have been encouraging and it goes to show that our faith has not been misplaced” he said.
Governor Ajimobi while pledging not to betray the confidence reposed in him by the people of the state also thanked the tribunal for doing “a thorough job, stating that the thoroughness and industry put into the writing and delivery of the judgment was highly noteworthy after painstakingly poring through stacks of documents.
“I make bold to say that the petitioner; Accord Party had no case in both content and technicality ab-initio. Until you meet a bad man, you will not appreciate a good man when you see one. Now that the people have spoken; now that the court has affirmed it and now that God has destined it, our opponents should not oppose God. They should rather join hands with us to move Oyo State forward. I am taking this opportunity to call on all my brothers; Senator Ladoja is my egbon (elder brother) that contested the election with me, that we should move away from innuendoes. We must stop seeing Oyo State as a big village. We must move away from pedestrian politics and treat the state as a force to reckon with in the comity of civilized states”.
Still basking in the euphoria of his victory at the lower tribunal, Governor Ajimobi told the artisans, traders, market men and women, as well as religious bodies that comprised over 25 professional associations including the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Employees, National Council of Muslim Youth Organization (NACOMYO), National Automobile Technicians Association (NATA), Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Fuji Musicians Association of Nigeria, Igede Development Association and National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), that stormed the Governor’s Office to congratulate him on his victory that Senator Ladoja would fail again if he dared take him to the appellate court, saying his mandate was of God and no amount of blackmail could change the will of God and the mandate freely given by the people of the state.
“When I heard that my egbon, Senator Rashidi Ladoja, said that he was not satisfied with the tribunal judgment and that he vowed to head for the Court of Appeal, I said he (Ladoja) should go to wherever he wants to go. But I want to assure you all and the good people of Oyo State, that thousands of Accord Party and its candidate, Senator Rashidi Ladoja, cannot unseat me. This mandate is of God and popularly given to me by the good people of this state. We must all work together to develop Oyo State. We must never allow enemies of this state to thrive again. We give glory to God that he has taken care of all the troublers of our state. So what should be our concern now is how to ensure that this state is taken to greater height.”
The Accord party governorship candidate, Senator Rashidi Ladoja in his own reaction to the tribunal’s judgment described it as a miscarriage of justice and that Governor Ajimobi’s stand that he will lose is an empty threat which will come to naught, more so that power is transient.
Speaking through the Director General of his campaign organisation, Hon. Adeolu Adeleke, Senator Ladoja declared that the dismissal of his petition by the Justice Mayaki-led election petitions tribunal, “did not come as a surprise, but rather a confirmation of the boasts by Ajimobi at different forums, that he had already secured victory,” adding that the judgement by the tribunal is a great burden and challenge to the judiciary, as the judgment “is a travesty of justice, full of contradictions and legal somersaults.”
“In view of our belief in the judiciary and avalanche of evidence against the declaration of Senator Abiola Ajimobi as the duly elected governor in the April 11, 2015 governorship election in the state, Senator Rasheed Ladoja, the gubernatorial candidate of Accord after wide consultations, has resolved to appeal the judgment of Justice Muhammed Mayaki-led tribunal at the Court of Appeal. We wish to state unequivocally that no amount of attacks will stop Senator Rasheed Ladoja from retrieving his mandate through the instrumentality of law. More importantly, the denial of justice at the lower court cannot also make Senator Rasheed Ladoja to lose hope in the judiciary.”
Senator Ladoja however rapped Governor Ajimobi for alleged series of attacks on him because of his resort to challenge his victory, saying, “it is widely known that Senator Rasheed Ladoja is not only a cousin to Senator Abiola Ajimobi but also a benefactor, who deserves a total respect. To the glory of God, all what Senator Abiola Ajimobi could claim to be his achievements, politically and economically, Senator Rasheed Ladoja had achieved the feats before him. Senator Abiola Ajimobi by virtue of his position as the governor of the state is supposed to be an epitome of humility, a custodian of culture and a fighter against moral decadence. Does the state governor display all these features or characteristics? The answer is an emphatic No! The continued desecration of the office of the governor by the occupier with his garrulous statements and pettiness in attitude is worrisome not only to the people of Oyo State but also to the whole world that are making mockery of our dear state. We strongly advice the state governor to be civil and guarded in his utterances and also, have it at the back of his mind that power is for a short while”.
Amidst the verbal war between the two brothers, all eyes are now on the second round of legal battle over the Oyo governorship seat between the two Ibadan born brothers but now political opponents, at the Court of Appeal.