Tension has mounted across the 18 local councils of Ondo State as the Appeal Court, Akure Division, is set to deliver judgment on the October 10, 2020 governorship election in the state today.
According to The Guardian, there was a political scheme by some persons to oust Akeredolu out of office with plan to manipulate the court judgment against him.
Their source from Abuja, who pleaded anonymity, said there is an alleged move to shift the date from today to yet unknown date. It was said to be part of the plan to perfect their game.
This is coming on the heels of an allegation that a minister, in conjunction with a serving governor from the North, has been mounting pressure on the panel to shift the date.
The source added that 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. It was unclear if the chairman, Justice Orji-Abadua, has been personally reached to change judgment date.
A source revealed that the move to influence 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 Jegede.
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Chairman of Ondo State Chapter of Miyetti Allah, Alhaji Garuba Bello, has denied the involvement of the Fulani group in the allegations against the group to oust the incumbent governor, saying there was no political relationship with Jegede.
“That is a big lie. Miyetti Allah does not have the capability to say we don’t want a particular governor. No one can make that kind of decision in Miyetti Allah, even from the national level to state level,” Bello said.
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SIMILARLY, the state PDP Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kennedy Peretei, said: “It is not true. It is the APC and Akeredolu camp that are trying to mount pressure on the panel through the Chief Justice of Nigeria (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.”
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Moreover, the Ondo State Government on Tuesday declared that it was unaware of the shift in the date of the judgment of the Court of Appeal on the case between the candidate of the All Progressives Congress and the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in the last governorship election, Mr Rotimi Akeredolu and Mr Eyitayo Jegede respectively.
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It was gathered that the appellate court sitting in Akure, the state capital, had fixed Wednesday, June 15, 2021, to deliver the judgment on the appeal filed by the PDP’s candidate, but a media report said the judgment might not hold on Wednesday following alleged pressure on the judges from ‘above’ and a serving minister.
One of the grounds of the petition was the nomination of Akeredolu as the candidate of the APC, which the opponent said, was faulty.
The tribunal, however, struck out the petition of the PDP candidate for lack of merit.
Not satisfied with the judgment of the lower court, Jegede proceeded to the court of appeal to challenge the tribunal verdict and the appellate court was said to have communicated the date to all the parties involved in the case.
In a reaction, the state government, through the state Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mr Donald Ojogo, said the government could not say anything about the shift in the date as such was at the discretion of the judges of the court.
He 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.
“As regards whether or not the date would be shifted, it is at the discretion of the honourable panel which comprises eminent and distinguished jurists.”
Reacting, a constitutional lawyer, Mr. Boluwade Ajayi, noted that it is not out of place for the court to postpone the judgment if there are cogent reasons to do so.
Ajayi, however, said that it would be highly prejudicial to do so at the expense of any of the parties involved in the case, saying it will not only serve as a bad precedent but also detrimental to the sanctity and temple of justice.