Leading governorship contender in the Ogun state Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Jimi Lawal, has denied forging delegates’ list in the lead up to the party’s primary election.
Lawal, who won a rescheduled court-ordered primary election, recently, said there was no way he could forge a list while the Independent National election monitored the election throughout the wards of the state.
Recently, the expelled former member of the House of Representatives Ladi Adebutu’s camp announced through the state party machinery that they have petitioned the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to investigate alleged forgery of delegates list against INEC officials and Lawal.
This was disclosed in Lawal’s response to the petition to the anti-graft agencies written by his lawyer, Deji Enisenyin.
“Our services have been retained as a firm of Solicitors by Otunba Jimi Lawal, (hereinafter referred to as our Client) and on his behalf we communicate this letter to you,” response to the petition against Lawal stated.
“Our Client’s attention has been drawn to two petitions written by a lawyer for the Peoples Democratic Party (P.D.P.) to the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (E.F.C.C.), on the one hand, affirming- among other things- that our client forged a delegate result to be used in the Ogun State PDP governorship primary election.
“The content of the said letter also has it that the document were forged and a counterfeit document produced by our Client’s hideous agenda to deceive/manipulate etc.
The content of the letter further reads thus:
“‘Our client is of the belief that considering the years of service of the INEC officials involved, both of them knew for sure that the purported delegate result presented by Mr. Jimi Lawal was forged, but still went ahead to collect, transmit and officially acknowledge the same document with reckless impunity’.”
Lawal through his lawyer also noted that, “Counsel to PDP on the other hand further wrote to the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (I.N.E.C.) asserting among other things that ‘…a deliberate and criminal suppression of the P.D.P. 2022 authentic delegate result list with a view to fraudulently substitute the original document with an unlawful delegate result…’ the letters referred to above have been written at the instance of the PDP and former member of the House of Representatives, Mr Ladi Adebutu in a bid to divert the attention of the three government agencies and the general public from the truth and reality on ground.
“Our Client denies ever involving in perjury, forgery, colluding or inducing public officials (INEC officials).
“The immediate reaction of our client to the letters is that the PDP and Mr Ladi Adebutu are beginning to see reality that they can run but cannot hide in view of the cogent and the verifiable evidence on the issues at hand.
“As confirmed by the PDP’s lawyer in the letter dated 27th of October, 2022 to the Chairman of I.N.E.C., the issue of the party governorship primary election was a subject of litigation in a suit number: FHC/ABJ/CS/—/2022 between Otunba Jimi Lawal v. Peoples Democratic Party; Mr. Ladi Adebutu and Independent National Electoral Commission and suit number FHC/AB/CS/87/2022 between Olabode Taiwo Idris & 2ors v. Peoples Democratic Party and 6 ors.”
Continuing, the reply to the allegation stated that: “The two cases mentioned above are presently on appeal before the appellate Courts at different stages, there is therefore no essence to comment on them. It is elementary knowledge that once litigants have submitted their grievances to a Court of competent jurisdiction, the issues so submitted before the Court becomes subjudice for all intent and purposes. So, why comment on it?
Our Client has however considered it necessary to make a rejection to the malicious letters cum publication to the reasonable members of the public not to fall victim of the false information.
“It is on record that in suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/ /2022 between Otunba Jimi Lawal v. Peoples Democratic Party and 2 ors, the P.D.P. and Mr. Ladi Adebutu in their responses filed to the summons of client, claimed that statutory delegates were delegates that voted in the governorship primary election the party has decided to recognise. For the purpose of clarity the Electoral Act, 2022 never envisaged statutory delegates to vote in any primary election for any aspirant.
“The P.D.P. had congress throughout the federation to produce delegates to vote in the primary election of the party held on the 30th of April, 2022. During that exercise in Ogun State, I.N.E.C. monitored the delegate congress in line with provisions of the Electoral Act, 2022. I.N.E.C. issued a report on the delegate congress monitored.
“The delegates that emerged during the delegate congress were not statutory delegates. The Electoral Act, 2022 never envisaged statutory delegate.
“A former federal law maker in his processes filed to defend the illegality in suit no FHC/ABJ/CS/773/2022 has exhibited on oath that statutory delegates voted for him during the 25th May, 2022 primary election. One does not need alegal practitioner to interpret the consequence of such election. The party is bound to recognise the votes of the delegates that emerged during the delegates congress, as monitored by I.N.E.C. at the primary election.
“This is the position of the Supreme Court in the cases of Amaechi v. I.N.E.C. Appeal number SC/252/2007 Per Oguntade, J.S.C. (para 44-45) under section 85 of the Electoral Act , 2006, it is mandatory that political parties inform I.NE.C. of the date and time of holding convention summoned for the purpose of nominating candidates for any of the elective offices under the Electoral Act, 2006. If parties were not to be bound by the results of their party primaries in the nomination of the candidates at any level, why would it be necessary for Independent National Electoral Commission (I.N.E.C.) representative to be present and monitor the proceedings of such congress.
“It seems that the obligation on the parties to inform INEC of such congress was to ensure that INEC would know and keep a record of candidates who are at the primaries.
“The elected delegates at the ward congress never voted for Mr. Ladi Adebutu, Statutory delegates did. INEC never monitored any congress, or sitting of the PDP where statutory delegates were recognised to vote in the party primaries. Such is ultra vires the provision of the Electoral Act, 2022 and null and void howsoever.
“The relevant question the lawyer to PDP ought to ask his client based on the party’s position in the letter under rejoinder, which were not canvassed or argued during any of the Court proceedings, is that at what stage did the suppression come up?
“Going by the showing of the party, statutory delegates who voted for Mr. Adebutu is the one they prefer to recognise. (It is understandable anyway, the largess from lottery is still coming in.)
We have waited till now to make this response as a result of the need to conduct necessary research to know the relevant section of the statute that provided for deliberate and criminal suppression. our client shall be willing to defend himself where the section is established in our extant laws.
“We have the instruction of our client to inform his adversary that he has his eyes on the ball no amount of distraction by the adversary will stop him from pursuing his Court cases to a logical conclusion as he is ready to abide by the final and last decision of these issues presently before the Court.”