…allegations baseless, says state govt
A political pressure group, Ogun Bibire Unity Forum, has called on the Governor of Ogun State, Dapo Abiodun, to address the allegation that he committed criminal offences in the United States in the 80s and other possible constitutional infractions.
The group, through its Organising Secretary, Oluwatobi Sofela, in a statement on Tuesday, said it was in possession of a petition against the governor’s re-election bid.
It said the petition was submitted on April 12, 2022, by a member of the All Progressives Congress, Mr Ayodele Oludiran, to the National Chairman of the APC, Senator Abdulahi Adamu.
In the petition, Abiodun was accused of concealing criminal offences he allegedly committed in the US.
Reacting, Sofela stated that the chance of the APC retaining the governorship seat in the state would be in jeopardy if the governor refused to defend the allegations.
He also called Abiodun’s attention to alleged irregularities in the educational qualifications he submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission.
Sofela said, “Is it correct that while filling the columns for his educational qualifications in the INEC Form CF001 for the office of Governor of Ogun State in 2019, under ‘Primary School Attended,’ Abiodun recorded and claimed that he attended International Primary School Ayetoro in 1971, while in his 2015 INEC Form CF001 while vying to represent Ogun East at the Senate, he recorded and claimed to have attended another primary school, Comprehensive High School, Ayetoro, in the same 1971?
“Did he graduate from the University of Ife in 1986? Did he obtain ‘BBA (Hons) Accounting’ at the Kennesaw State Universities in 1989? Was he jailed in 1986 for credit card fraud in Miami Dade, Florida, USA? Did he use a pseudonym (Shawn Michael Davids) with the aim of concealing his criminal identity? Was he jailed for committing criminal offences which bordered on credit card fraud, petty theft, and cheque forgery?
“Was he arrested on November 7, 1986, for fighting and injuring a police officer in an attempt to resist arrest? Is it true that his jail number was 8600B9436? Did he apply for the redaction of his criminal records in Miami Dade, Florida? Was the redaction granted in August 2015?”
He said the educational records presented by the governor could have him disqualified, as enshrined in Section 182 (1) (j) of the 1999 Constitution as amended.
This is as he warned that opposition parties will take advantage of the situation and test Abiodun’s eligibility to stand for elections.
“More so, no one could attend two different primary schools and finish both at the same time as presented by Governor Abiodun in his INEC forms. Our fear for our great party in the forthcoming elections is that since the report of Governor Abiodun’s questionable primary school claims are in the public domain already, the opposition parties shall test his eligibility to stand for elections within the stipulated 14 days cause of action (pre-election matters) as provided for in the Constitution and Electoral Act 2022 (as amended).
“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.
When our correspondent made a phone call to the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Kunle Somorin, he pleaded for communication to be done via SMS or Whatsapp.
He has, however, yet to respond to the allegations as of the time of filing this report.
However, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Communications, Remi Hassan, when contacted, described the allegations as baseless.
According to him, the group should await the result of the investigation on the petition being carried out by the Police and the Department of State Services, instead of expecting an explanation from his principal.
He said, “The governor was asked to tell the truth about the allegations and also speak concerning his credentials. We responded saying the petition was addressed to the Police and the DSS. And at that level, if you have asked agencies with statutory powers to investigate a matter, it’s just ideal that you let them do their job since you have gone that far to petition those agencies.
“So, the 14-day ultimatum would have been better addressed to those policing agencies to quickly come up with a report of whatever investigation that they are doing. But our immediate reaction as a government to those allegations is that they are baseless.”
He added that in the build-up to the 2019 elections, issues around the credentials of the governor became a subject of litigation up to the Supreme Court level but the governor won the case.
Meanwhile, Afe Babalola & Co., the legal counsel to the Ogun State Governor, in a letter to the National Chairman of the APC, addressed allegations of discrepancies in the Governor’s educational background.
The letter read, “The allegation that discrepancies exist in our client’s Forms CF001 for 2015 and 2019 is statute-barred. This allegation can only form the basis of a cause of action in court 14 days from the day our client filled and deposed to these forms.
“Therefore, a suit seeking to declare the content of these forms false ought to have been filed within 14 days from the day our client deposed to these forms. Please see Section 285 (9) and Section 285 (14) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended)…”
On the allegation that Abiodun was indicted and imprisoned in the 80s, the letter described it as false and misleading.
“Our client has never been indicted or convicted for the commission of any crime.
“Assuming without conceding that the allegation that our client was arrested and detained in 1986 in the US is accurate, we state that the fact of our client’s arrest and detention as far back as 1985 do not constitute a ground for his ineligibility to run for the 2023 governorship election,” the letter read, citing Section 29 (6) of the Electoral Act 2022. Culled: Punch.