* Canvasses criminalisation of electoral fraud
By Victor Ahiuma-Young
LAGOS—GOVERNOR Segun Mimiko yesterday in Lagos, described the statement credited to the immediate past governor of Ondo State, Dr. Olusegun Agagu, that a security report was manipulated to secure the judgement which sacked him as governor of Ondo State, as “yet another shameless lie, a fabrication of unimaginable proportion and a characteristic decoy by a man who has been known to concoct just anything for political reasons.”
The governor in a statement titled, “Are these men without shame?”, said the Justice Garba Nabaruma-Ied Governorship Election Tribunal did not rely on any security report as speciously alleged by Dr. Agagu and that not even once was the issue of security report alluded to as a ground for the nullification of what the whole world knew was an electoral heist.
Speaking through his Commissioner for Information, Mr. Ranti Akerele, Dr. Mimiko, said what the Nabaruma-led panel did was to examine the ballot papers purportedly used in the polling units and the election results issued from the disputed units, or wards, or local government, vis-a -vis the declared results.
The governor who argued that if it were in other civilised countries, Dr. Agagu and his cronies would have been behind bars for alleged electoral frauds, noted that it was found that there was no correlation, no matter how vague, between the number of registered voters, the ballot papers and results purportedly returned.
Dr. Mimiko reiterated calls by Nigerians to criminalise electoral frauds, saying, “this show of shame by Agagu further underlines the need to criminalize electoral fraud as we have consistently canvassed. If the likes of Agagu were in jail for all the malpractices perpetrated in the April 2007 election, the signal would have been sent that evil ought not to be treated with kid gloves.”
According to Dr. Mimiko: “For instance, to underlie the falsehood in the ‘victory’ fraudulently claimed by Agagu for more than 22 months, it was found that where the number of registered voters was 250, purportedly used ballot papers and returned votes were more than 600. What then has security report got to do with unconscionable manipulation of figures, blatant falsification of results and the usurpation of the sovereign will of the people as carried out by Agagu ?
The question we ask is this; in such an instance and several others of similar pattern, what has security report got to do with cancellation? We are sure that with an election close by, Agagu in order to be seen as relevant politically wants to drag the Federal Government and indeed the security agencies now firmly in the hands of PDP apparatchik, into another round of false alarms and victimization of political opponents. Is Agagu just waking up from his slumber? We recall that Agagu paraded some of the most outstanding Senior Advocates of Nigeria like Lateef Fagbemi SAN, Adelodun SAN, Adedipe SAN, Fakunle SAN, Dodo SAN, Iziyon SAN and Akintola SAN and over sixty other senior lawyers at the tribunal. Is he in any way insinuating incompetence on the part of these respected lawyers who made no bone with the issue of security report?”
“Just for the purpose of enlightenment, it is a fact that the ‘security report’ was tendered in the presence of lawyers on both sides of the Ondo electoral dispute. We wonder why in a matter as important as a Governorship dispute and after the SSS refused to own up to originating the tendered security report, a reality that was not believed by the tribunal, Agagu and his men did not present the ‘true security report’ or any report in place of what it claimed was false? It is a known fact that both Mimiko and Agagu pleaded to tender Security reports to back their facts before the Tribunal, only for the PDP lawyers to capitulate and hurriedly close their case.
We know however that in deciding that the report was genuine and so acceptable, the tribunal examined the evidence on oath by the SSS before coming to the conclusion that the document was genuine. The acceptance of the report all knew was done after a thorough scrutiny and judicial evaluation, which explains why the issue of the security report was never raised again for more than 18 months of litigations.”
Contributing, a member of Governor Mimiko’s legal team, Mr, Aderemi Olatunbora, admitted he was invited for questioning by the State Director of SSS and said he was only asked to identify the SSS official who submitted the security report to him.
He said he told the SSS that there was no way he could have known the SSS officer because he was in detention during the election and was only released three days after National Assembly election by which most of the documents used for petition were already deposited in his chambers.