Femi Emodamori, an Akure-based lawyer has written a letter to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) over alleged that the deputy governor of Ondo State, Agboola Ajayi, submitted falsified certificates for the governorship election coming up in the state on October 10.
Ajayi is the candidate of the Zenith Labour Party (ZLP) in the election.
The lawyer is asking INEC to publish the particulars of Ajayi within seven days or he would compel it through the courts to do so.
In the letter addressed to the Ondo State Resident Electoral Commissioner, Emodamori said his demand was in accordance with the provisions of Section 31 (2) & (3) of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) which states that: “The list or information submitted by each candidate shall be accompanied by an Affidavit sworn to by the candidate at the Federal High Court, High Court of a State or Federal Capital Territory, indicating that he has fulfilled all the constitutional requirements for election into that office.
“The Commission shall, within seven days of the receipt of the personal particulars of the candidate, publish same in the constituency where the candidate intends to contest the election.”
Emodamori said INEC failed to publish the particulars of the contestants along with the list of candidates it has published.
He said he had earlier formally applied to the Ondo State Resident Electoral Commissioner for the Certified True Copy of the Personal Particulars of Mr Ajayi as the candidate of ZLP.
Citing Section 31(4 &5) of the Electoral Act, Mr Emodamori said he had reasonable grounds to believe that the information given by the candidate in the affidavit or documents submitted to INEC were false.
“I have very strong evidence, like many other members of the Civil Society, that Hon. Alfred Agboola Ajayi has presented false certificates to INEC within the context of Section 182 (1) (j) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), and the recent Supreme Court decision in MODIBO V. USMAN (2020) 3 NWLR (PT 1712) 470 AT page 510, PARAGRAPHS A-H where the Supreme Court held that ‘Certificate’ has a wider meaning than school certificate, and that it actually means ‘any document that attests, testifies, vouches, ascertains, and verifies the facts therein,” he said.
“In the final list of candidates for the Ondo Governorship Election published at the Akure Office of INEC on 21st August, 2020, Hon. Agoola Ajayi was listed as Number 33 with his academic qualification stated as WASSC, even though he parades himself as a Lawyer.
“The notorious information about him in public or official records (including Wikipedia) is that he claims to have acquired a Degree in Law from Igbinedion University and thereafter proceeded to the Nigeria Law School for the compulsory one year post Degree Program as prerequisites for Call to the Bar.
“He claimed to have been subsequently called to the Bar as a lawyer in 2010. However, he was actually a member of the House of Representatives from 2007-2011 on full time employment, and could not have simultaneously attended University, and then Law School, which are also full time academic programs.”
The lawyer further alleged that it was Mr Ajayi’s attempt to circumvent the legal consequences of his “fraudulent claims of attending Igbinedion University and the Nigerian Law School” that he abandoned his claim of having attended those institutions and obtained qualifications therefrom, in filling the necessary INEC Forms for his personal particulars for the upcoming governorship election.
The lawyer also noted that Mr Ajayi was the Caretaker Chairman of Ese-Odo Local Government from 2003 to 2004, and was thereafter elected as the Chairman of the Local Government where he served on full time basis as required by law, from 2004 to 2007.
According to him, Mr Ajayi could not have been an internal student of Community High School, Mobolorunduro for the May/June 2004 Senior School Certificate Examination.
“In view of these crucial pieces of information available to me and many other members of the Civil Society, it is difficult for me not to conclude that the failure of INEC to publish the personal particulars of Hon. Alfred Agboola Ajayi for the upcoming election is either a deliberate act of connivance with him and/or his Zenith Labour Party, or a serious dereliction of the statutory duty imposed on INEC by virtue of Section 31(3), especially when INEC claims to have published the Personal Particulars of other candidates long before ZLP purportedly substituted Agboola Ajayi for its earlier nominated candidate, Mr. Rotimi Benjamin,” argued Mr Emodamori.
“Now that Hon. Alfred Agboola Ajayi’s name has been published on 21st August, 2020 as the candidate of Z.L.P in INEC’s Final List of Candidates, I hereby demand that INEC should consequently publish his Personal Particulars in its Ondo State office within Seven (7) Days from the date of this letter, in line with S.31 (3) of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended).
“This would enable me and any other Nigerian who so desires, to obtain the Certified True Copy of his personal particulars and institute an action in Court to have him disqualified for having presented a forged certificate, as provided for in Section 31 (4), (5) and (6) of the Act.”
He warned that in the event that INEC failed to comply with his demand, he would immediately institute a mandamus action in court to compel INEC to perform its statutory duties in this regard.
“I hope INEC would avoid the damning negative connotation and perception that such failure would engender among the Nigerian populace and the International Community, as well as Civil Societies and other stakeholders/observers assiduously working with INEC to deliver a credible Governorship election in Ondo State,” he added.
The Public Relations Officer of INEC in Ondo, Babalola Lebile, said he would need some time to check if the commission had received Mr Emodamori’s letter, and only then could he be able to answer questions arising from it.
Mr Ajayi has, however, dismissed the call by Mr Emodamori, saying he was crying more than the bereaved.
“He has no locus to ask any question because he is not a contestant, that is number one, and again INEC has published the candidates certificate, so if he is not satisfied he should go to court,” the spokesperson of the deputy governor, Tope Okeowo, said.
“INEC has already done the publications required by law, the lawyer is just seeking attention, we are not bothered about such characters.
“Why is he particular about Agboola Ajayi, when there are 16 other candidates? INEC has placed their certificates there, and if he is not satisfied, he knows what to do.”