Ondo State Governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu and the All Progressives Congress (APC) Ondo State have petitioned the Ondo State Commissioner of Police, Salami Bolaji, over claims by a former Secretary to the State Government, Ifedayo Abegunde that the 2016 governorship election was won by the Peoples Democratic Party but rigged in favour of Akeredolu.
Abegunde spoke after he resigned from Akeredolu’s administration last month and pledged to support the aspiration of Chief Olusegun Abraham.
But he later recanted his statement to say that he meant that the people and not Akeredolu won the governorship election for the APC.
In the petition signed by Counsel to Akeredolu and the Ondo APC, Femi Emmanuel Emodamori, they are asking the Police Commissioner to investigate and prosecute Abegunde over the electoral fraud claims.
They said the election results were never disputed by any of the candidates before the Ondo State Election Petition Tribunal but were shocked by the revelations of Abegunde.
Akeredolu and the APC said the allegation of manipulation was diametrically spurious, false, reckless, senseless, and criminal.
They said electoral integrity was a very serious and sensitive issue in Nigeria, adding that ‘For any person to fraudulently procure the return of any other person to an elective office, whether directly or indirectly, is a criminal offence punishable with twelve (12) months imprisonment, by virtue of section 124(1) (a) of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended).’
According to the petition, “It was made simply to scandalize our clients, particularly the Governor, three and half years after the undisputed election, and instructively, after Sunday Ifedayo Abegunde parted ways with the current government of Ondo State.
“Clearly therefore, the false, scandalous and criminal allegation was actuated by malice.
“For Hon. Sunday Ifedayo Abegunde (a.k.a Abena) to have publicly declared that he “helped” the Governor to win the 2016 gubernatorial election connotes, or is supposed in law to connote the following:
“That our clients did not genuinely merit the victory ascribed to them by INEC in the said 2016 governorship election.
“That our clients won the said election through underhanded tactics aided and abetted by Hon. Sunday Ifedayo Abegunde and his faceless cohorts.
“That our clients are fraudulent with their claim that they won the said 2016 governorship election.
“That Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN is a person to be investigated for being without integrity, good character and unworthy to occupy the sacred and exalted position of Governor of Ondo State.
“That but for the “help” and or assistance of Hon. Sunday Ifedayo Abegunde, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN would not have been declared by INEC as the duly elected Governor of Ondo State in the 2016 governorship election, which allegation is reckless, wicked, criminal, and has portrayed and put the Governor and his Party (the A.P.C) in Ondo State in particular and Nigeria in general, in public ridicule, odium or scorn.
“Hon. Sunday Ifedayo Abegunde is therefore presumed to be compos mentis (sane) as at the time of making such public declaration. He must therefore be justified or condemned by his own words, which amount to a self-confession of criminality.
“Consequently, we have the instruction of our clients to call on your office to set all the necessary machinery under your control as the Commissioner of Police in motion, to unravel the truth or falsehood in the allegation(s) of Hon. Sunday Ifedayo Abegunde, by conducting a thorough investigation into the allegation in this petition.
“Your expected in-depth investigation of the shocking and viral allegation(s) of Hon. Sunday Ifedayo Abegunde would help to restore the probity, credibility and public confidence in electoral processes in Nigeria, particularly now that the 2020 Governorship election in Ondo State is at hand.
“In the event that your investigation reveals that the allegation(s) are false and maliciously invented simply to scandalize our clients, we demand the immediate prosecution of Hon. Sunday Ifedayo Abegunde for the criminal offence of publication of defamatory matter, in contravention of Section 375 of the same Criminal Code, and punishable with two years imprisonment, as well as any other offence for which he may be found culpable.”