Indications shows that the Court of Appeal judgement, earlier scheduled for today (Wednesday), in the case brought before it by the governorship candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, in the 2020 Ondo State governorship election, Eyitayo Jegede, against the election of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of the All Progressives Congress, APC, may be shifted.
The Appeal Court in the Akure Division, two weeks ago, had reserved the verdict for Wednesday, June 16.
Vanguard gathered that some interested personalities are pressuring the three-man panel, headed by Justice Theresa Orji-Abadua, to shift the verdict date.
Counsels to Jegede, led by Onyeachi Ikpeazu, SAN, had, in their briefs, said that Governor Akeredolu and his Deputy, Lucky Aiyedatiwa, should be removed from office because they were wrongly nominated by the APC.
However, Akeredolu’s counsel, the APC and that of INEC, Messrs Akin Olujimi, Lateef Fagbemi and Charles Edosanmwon, in response punctured all the arguments of Jegede’s counsel submitting that the case was a pre-election matter and should be dismissed forthwith.
However, a top politician in the state told Vanguard that the move to shift the date, from Wednesday, was coming on the heels of an allegation that a Federal Minister, in conjunction with a serving governor from the Northeastern part of the country, has been mounting pressure on the panel.
“A senior member of the Bench from the North-West is said to be the liaison between the trio led by the minister and another member of the Appeal panel. It is not clear if the chairman, Justice Orji-Abadua has been reached to effect the postponement,” the source said
The source claimed that “the move to ‘arrest’ 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 the PDP governorship candidate, Eyitayo Jegede.
Also, a top member of Miyetti Allah has expressed concern over the continued stay in office of Akeredolu and was alleged to be against the interest of the Fulani ethnic nationality, saying: “Nigeria belongs to all Nigerians and the way the Ondo State governor is going, he is against the Fulani people and their safety is not guaranteed under him at all.
“How can such a man that benefited from the Fulani to become governor set up what he calls Amotekun to be tormenting us? Did we make a mistake to support him against our own man who had spent all his life in Fulani territory in Adamawa, someone who can speak our Fulfude language in the 2020 election?
“If we made a mistake, we are now going to correct that mistake by partnering with someone we understand and who knows us better to be there. Or is it not when Akeredolu is governor that he can threaten the unity of this country by asking some people to leave a place in Nigeria?”
The source recalled that governor Akeredolu, as the chairman of the South West Governors Forum, spearheaded the establishment of the South West Security Network, codenamed Amotekun, along with Southern governors, who he also leads, banned open grazing in the southern part of the country.
Contacted on the allegation, the Ondo Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Kennedy Peretei, said: “It is not true, nothing like that from our camp here.
“It is the APC and Akeredolu camp that are trying to mount pressure on the Panel through the 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.
The Ondo State Information and Orientation Commissioner, Donald Ojogo, in his reaction 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.
“There is nothing personal in whatever the governor has said. To remove an APC governor and enthrone PDP and achieve what? I doubt if it can ever happen, the Nigerian Judiciary is not that low and it cannot start with this.
“As regards whether or not the date would be shifted is at the discretion of the Panel which comprises eminent and distinguished jurists. We are not inclined to discussing that.”
Ondo State chairman of Miyetti Allah, Alhaji Garuba Bello, on his part said: “That is a big lie. Miyetti Allah cannot 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.”
Meanwhile, there is palpable tension in both camps as chieftains of both parties have held several meetings ahead of the verdict.
The Election Tribunal had earlier dismissed the petition filed by Jegede against Akeredolu for want of Jurisdiction and lack of merit.