A panel of the Court of Appeal in Abuja is today set to deliver a ruling in a rushed court proceeding aimed at restoring Eyitayo Jegede of the Makarfi-led faction of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) as the party’s authentic candidate in next weekend’s governorship election in the state.
SaharaReporters learned that the appellate court panel would at noon today deliver a judgment that suits Governor Segun Mimiko. A legal source close to controversial businessman, Jimoh Ibrahim, told SaharaReporters that the governor had bribed judges through his lawyers. A Federal High Court judge, Justice Okon Abang, had earlier ruled that Mr. Ibrahim, who was chosen by the Modu Sheriff-led faction of the PDP as the PDP’s legitimate governorship candidate.
Mr. Mimiko and his favored candidate, Mr. Jegede, appealed Justice Abang’s ruling at the Court of Appeal. The case was mired in controversy as an earlier panel of the Court of Appeal set up to review Justice Abang’s ruling was inexplicably dissolved.
One lawyer involved in the case said Governor Mimiko “has been running from pillar to pole seeking ways to bribe judges at the Court of Appeal in Abuja to reverse the order of the lower court.”
Several sources in Ondo State told SaharaReporters that Mr. Mimiko temporarily relocated to Abuja to press all the political and legal buttons to ensure that Mr. Jegede was declared the authentic governorship candidate. One source claimed the governor had openly bragged to his supporters in Akure, the state capital, that he would get his wish.
Mr. Mimiko is a veteran of legal battles over political issues. After losing a controversial governorship election to the late Olusegun Agagu of the PDP in 2007, Mr. Mimiko, who ran on the ticket of Labor Party, had mobilized lawyers to contest his loss. Through the financial backing of Ahmed Bola Tinubu, the current national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr. Mimiko prevailed in court. An appellate court panel ruled in his favor, and he was installed as governor on February 23, 2009.
A political source in Ondo State claimed that, once Mr. Mimiko receives his desired ruling from the Court of Appeal today, the governor would instigate acts of violence throughout the state to ensure the postponement of the election that is already billed for next Saturday. The source said the governor and Mr. Jegede want extra time to mobilize for the campaigns, adding that the feud between the two factions of the PDP had weakened the party.