Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State is now enmeshed in a fresh scandal, which could mar his second term bid, barely four years after he scaled through the first one in 2019 over qualification scandal, when he was contesting the election which he won under the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
In 2019 when he filed a nomination form for the governorship, he was accused of having claimed to have obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Accountancy from the University of Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University Ile Ife. Those who filed the petition against him then, claimed that the University does not offer BA in Accountancy
Although the issue went to court, he eventually won the election and became the governor. Those behind the first allegations appear not to have been done with him, as they came up with a fresh one this time around that he was a convict in the United States of America over fraud, which is now generating more heat and controversies than he and his supporters could imagine.
In the petition calling for his disqualification in his second term bid, one Ayodele Oludiran, an APC member wrote the National Chairman of the APC, Abdullahi Adamu that Governor Dapo Abiodun is not fit to contest the primary for the governorship.
Ayodele Oludiran on behalf of Oluwatobi Sofela of Ogun Bibire Unity Forum hinted the National Chairman of the party, and had warned that the party might lose the governorship seat in Ogun due to Abioduns criminal history and its concealment from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) despite swearing an oath.
He also cautioned that the discrepancies in the governors educational qualifications might also cause opposition parties to question his eligibility for re-election bid, and that could damage the party’s image and convince the electorate to vote another political party.
He wrote “If action is not taken, the chances of our great party, the APC, retaining the governorship seat in Ogun State shall be in jeopardy as previously seen in Bayelsa and Zamfara states,
As Governor Abiodun defended himself in the certificate and educational Institution issues in 2015, he is doing the same now, calling on the National body of the party to dismiss the current allegations against him. Though he admitted being arrested in 1986 in Florida for credit card fraud as alleged, he claimed not being convicted.
Abiodun said that his probable arrest was not a conviction and hence was not answerable to the laws that applied to criminals.
He added that even if he was convicted in 1986, the Nigerian constitution only disqualifies ex-felons from contesting political offices if their sentence was less than 10 years before the election date.
An aspirant or candidate will only be disqualified by the court if the false information he gives relates to a constitutional requirement of eligibility. APC is not a court of law. Accordingly, it cannot disqualify our client, the governors lawyer, Afe Babalola wrote in a letter to Adamu, citing section 29(6) of the Electoral Act.
In any event, assuming but not conceding that our client was even convicted in 1986, he would still not be affected or caught by Section 182 (1) (e) of the CFRN because the CFRN requires that the conviction which would disqualify a person from the position of the governor must have occurred ten years before the date of election to the office.
The alleged criminal records of the governor now circulation and which has been generating heat a cross Nigerian indicated how one Dapo Abiodun was allegedly jailed in 1986 for credit card fraud in Miami Dade Florida, USA.
The governor was said to have used a pseudo name (Shawn Michael Davids) with the aim of concealing his criminal identity. The record further indicated that Abiodun was jailed for committing criminal offences which bordered on credit card fraud, petty theft and check forgery.
He was also allegedly arrested on November 7, 1986, for fighting and injuring a police officer in an attempt to resist arrest.
The records as revealed indicated as well that while being processed at the station, they ran his fingerprint through the crime database and it was discovered he deceived the authorities as it was found out that Adedapo Oluseun Abiodun being processed for detention, was the same as Shawn Michael Davids.
The petitioner claimed that the governor’s criminal record and history were therefore processed and he was subsequently jailed with Number 8600B9436
It was said that the criminal allegations against the governor have been on for a long time in Nigeria as it was alleged also that in 2015, while contesting for the Ogun East Senatorial seat against the late Buruji Kasamu of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), he Kasamu, applied for the redaction of his criminal records in Miami Dade, Florida.
It was further said that the redaction of his criminal records was discovered then, to have meant that the act of concealment by the governor could have meant he could lie on his Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) forms that he had no prior criminal records; a perjury offence which could have disqualified him from ever holding an appointive or elective office in Nigeria.
Since all these revelations were made about Governor Abiodun which were also not let out of the bag in 2019, when he was contesting, Business Hallmark investigations revealed that palpable fear has gripped the camp of the governor and efforts are being made to appease those behind the scenes instigating what has been described as mudslinging.
It was said that notable and powerful members and leaders of the party in Ogun State have been making consultations here and there.
Sources hinted BusinessHallmark that despite the move to reconcile and call those involved to order, they were hell bent on seeing their petition to a logical conclusion and vowed to prevent Abiodu’s second chance.
But those in the governor’s camp including the governor himself, it was learnt have started mapping out strategies to prove that the allegations were not true and unfounded.
In the letter received at the National Secretariat of the APC by Amb. Samuel Jimba, the law chamber said that the petitions were not served on the governor, which according to it was a deliberate move to deprive him of the opportunity to set the records straight and knowing full well that the petition was characterized by falsehood and malice.
While noting that the petitions are nothing more than the machinations of political jobbers and saboteurs sponsored by desperate opposition elements to disrupt the peaceful political atmosphere in Ogun, spread rumours/propaganda about the governor and mislead the APC, said the petitioner relied on hearsays, urging Senator Adamu and national leadership of the APC to disregard the hearsays.
According to Afe Babalola & Co, “the allegation of discrepancies in Governor Abioduns INEC Form CF001 for 2015 and 2019, is statute-barred, arguing that the allegation can only form the basis of a cause of action in court 14 days from the day the governor filed and deposed to it.
It further stated that the alleged contradiction in the two INEC Forms cannot longer be a ground to disqualify Governor Abiodun in the upcoming 2023 gubernatorial election, as Forms CF001 for 2015 and 2019 are spent and cannot be used to determine the eligibility of the governor to contest in the next governorship election.
The law firm recalled that court cases were filed in court and petitions filed at the Governorship Election Tribunal seeking to disqualify the governor based on allegations of falsehood and inconsistency in the two INEC Forms, saying that both the Tribunal and courts were unanimous in their decisions not only that the allegations were status-barred, but held that the said Forms CF001 of 2015 and 2019 did not contain any false statement.
It further said 4that the Supreme Court of Nigeria had also affirmed the decisions of the Tribunal and the Appeal Court, by dismissing the petition of false statement against the governor.
On the allegation that the governor had been convicted for an offence in 1986, the chamber said the petitioner failed to attach any court judgment to the petition to this effect, hence, the allegation was baseless, asking the APC top echelon to discountenance as such.
The firm also denied the allegation in the petition that the governor has a former name, declaring that the governor has always been known as Prince Adedapo Oluseun Abiodun, adding that he never bore the name Shawn Michael Davis or any other name however described”.
His name is reflected in all his certificates and other former documents. We urge Your Excellency to disregard the petitioners unfounded allegation, it pointed out.
Our client has been adjudged by the Tribunal and courts to be eminently qualified to contest the 2019 Ogun State gubernatorial election, which he won landslide.
Since, as of today, the courts have held that our client is qualified under CFRN, the party cannot impose additional grounds for disqualification on him. Also, the APC Constitution and Guidelines for the conduct of primary elections cannot override the CFRN. Therefore, the party has no vires to prevent our client from contesting any election under its banner.
As rightly admitted by the petitioner, only a court of law can disqualify our client. The party cannot disqualify him or prevent him from contesting in the partys primary election.
In Abiodun’s defense, former member of the House of Representatives, Kayode Oladele, reacted to the petition against Governor Abiodun of Ogun State, saying arrest is not a conviction.
Mr. Oladele, who represented Egbado North/ Imeko Afon Federal Constituency in the eighth Assembly, condemned the petition, which alleged that Mr. Abiodun concealed his criminal records in the United States of America.
Mr. Oladele, a human rights and constitutional lawyer, said the petition lacks content and form.