The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has expressed its readiness to abide by any superior judgment that emanates from the current legal battles between the two factions jostling for the governorship ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ondo State.
Justifying INEC decision to recognise Businessman Jimoh Ibrahim as the candidate of the PDP in the forthcoming governorship election in the state, the commission’s Director Voter Education and Publicity, Mr. Oluwole Uzi, said Jimoh Ibrahim was on the list by the virtue of a court order reaffirmed on Thursday.
He said: “In one sense, the Ondo State Court order came on Wednesday but the Federal High Court reaffirmed its order on Thursday. And so for now, the commission is waiting for the judiciary to guide its decision on the candidate.”
He added: “Now if you say we did not accept it, if we had put Jegede’s name, you will say we did not respect the central High Court order. You draw the conclusion for yourself.
“We have said that we placed him there by the virtue of Court Order, and if a superior Court order comes tomorrow, we will obey that court order.
“Whatever the Appeal Court comes up with, we will abide. We still have some days to the election.
He also noted that even when the commission puts one person and the person wins the election, and the court says he is not the person, he will still be unseated.
“It is out of our hands now; it is whatever the court says.”
The Eyitayo Jegede camp, however, disagreed with INEC in its claim that it relied on the last court order in placing Mr. Jimoh Ibrahim on the list of candidates for the Ondo governorship poll.
According to Jegede’s camp, an order was served the electoral body on Thursday afternoon, restraining INEC from replacing Jedgede as PDP candidate in the November 27, 2016 poll.
Senator Ahmed Markafi-led committee and Senator Ali Modu Sheriff faction of PDP presented different candidates for the election.
While the Ahmed Markarfi-led committee’s primary, monitored by INEC, threw up Mr. Eyitayo Jegede (SAN), the Senator Ali Modu-Sheriff faction, whose primary was initially stopped by an Akure High Court, necessitating its being moved to Ibadan, Oyo State, also nominated Mr. Jimoh Ibrahim.
INEC on Thursday, however, confirmed Ibrahim as the party’s candidate, though with a proviso “by Court Order” in front of his name.
But the Eyitayo Jegede camp disagreed with INEC, alleging that the commission’s decision must have been influenced by extraenous forces.
A source in Jegede camp noted that INEC’s claim that it only obeyed the most current court order was totally wrong.
The source said: “It is a bit curious that INEC got two different orders from Court of coordinate jurisdiction with Justice Abang Court asking INEC not to touch the name of Jegede on the list.
“INEC, obviously under pressure from extraneous forces, went ahead to remove the name of Jegede and put the name of Jimoh.
“The first judgment was served on INEC on Wednesday in Akure. That was the same same day Abang gave his ruling in Abuja. And it was after Abang gave his ruling that INEC was served.
“Because the chronological order is clear. It was now served on INEC in Abuja on Thursday morning.
“The second order came yesterday (Friday) afternoon. From the information we have, it was served around 2 pm or thereabouts on INEC. So they cannot argue correctly that Abang judgment was the last. That is not true.
“So if they say they obeyed the last court ruling, then it is clear the High Court in Ondo and the Federal High Court in Abuja have coordinate jurisdiction. No one of them is higher than the other. These are facts.