A day after the electoral commission, INEC, made a decision unfavourable to him and his supporters, Governor Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State rushed to Abuja to discuss the consequence of that decision with President Muhammadu Buhari.
Mr. Mimiko expressed concern that INEC’s decision to drop Eyitayo Jegede for Jimoh Ibrahim as candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has the potential of endangering the peace of the state.
The governor met with Mr. Buhari at about midday on Friday to protest INEC’s decision which has already set the state boiling as hundreds of protesters blocked roads in Akure, the Ondo State capital.
Shortly after meeting with the President, the governor told journalists that he was shocked by the electoral commission’s decision in Ondo.
INEC, acting on the order of the Federal High Court Abuja, dropped Mr. Jegede as PDP candidate and replaced him with Mr. Ibrahim as it published the final list of candidates for the election last night.
“I am shocked,” and angry Mr. Mimiko said. “In logic, in law, in politics, there is no basis for it
He questioned the order by Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja, saying the suit was about zonal and state executives of PDP.
He argued that neither Mr. Ibrahim nor Mr. Jegede was a party to the suit.
Giving details of the crisis, Mr. Mimiko said INEC took a right decision when it rejected Mr. Ibrahim’s name after the governorship primary organised by the Ali Sheriff faction of the PDP.
Messrs Mimiko and Jegede are members of the Ahmed Makarfi-led PDP. INEC had rejected Mr. Ibrahim’s name as the primary, held in Ibadan, was not monitored by the electoral commission and security agencies.
“There is nothing about 2016 election in that judgement. So, on the basis of this, INEC refused and discountenanced the name of Jimoh Ibrahim as a candidate,” he said.
“Then they went ahead and filed form 48 and from the blues, the same Justice Abang mandated INEC to replace the name of Eyitayo Jegede who emerged through a primary process that was supervised by INEC, security agencies on live television with all delegates that were supposed to participate, then Abang ordered that Jimoh Ibrahim should replace Eyitayo Jegede.”
According to Mr. Mimiko, his group had gone to appeal the judgment, filed all necessary papers which should serve as a stay of execution.
“We didn’t want to take chances because somebody in INEC told us that they obey the last order in the commission.
“Some went to court and obtained two different orders mandating INEC not to substitute Eyitayo Jegede. We served one on INEC around 10 a.m. yesterday (Thursday), and we served INEC with the other one at the close of business around 3 p.m.
“Only around 7 or 8 pm, we got to know that INEC for no justifiable reason had substituted the name of Jegede and replaced it with that of Ibrahim.”
The governor argued that the commission had no basis for accepting Mr. Ibrahim given the circumstances under which he emerged and in the face of two retraining orders.
He said the time for substitution of candidates had elapsed going by the electoral time table.
Mr. Mimiko said INEC’s action could potentially cause a breach of peace.
“In Ondo State in the last seven and half years, we have done everything possible to put good governance on the table,” said Mr. Mimiko. “We see this action as potentially dangerous.”
“It can cause conflagration in the state and that is why as the chief security officer of the state, I have come to alert Mr. President of the potential danger of this injustice so that we can nip it in the bud.”
He said he was assured by the President that the matter would be looked into. He said Mr. Buhari promised to address any injustice.
“The whole day from 5a.m., I have been on phone with stakeholders to ensure they keep the peace in the state,” he said while speaking on the Friday protests by residents
“The extent of the protest you have seen has been reduced by our intervention to ensure that there is no breach of peace. For the people of the state, it is just from the blues.
“I have assured them that this injustice will not stay. We will continue to explore all avenues to make INEC see reasons why this impunity must not stand.
Asked if he still had confidence in INEC to conduct credible elections, Mr. Mimiko replied: “If INEC finds it difficult to obey court order, a credible election starts with a process like this.”