Following the controversy trailing the court ruling on the forthcoming May 12 local council election in the state, Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State on Friday said that no court has the power to stop the conduct of the polls scheduled to hold across the 33 local government areas, 35 local council development areas and more than 600 wards in the state.
He made the clarification on the heels of news making the round across the state that a Federal High Court, sitting in Ibadan, had on Wednesday delivered a ruling, stopping the conduct of the poll, when the court did not.
Addressing thousands of the members of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) during a sensitization mega rally which held at the State Party Secretariat in Oke-Ado, Ibadan, Governor Ajimobi explained that the ruling delivered by the court presided over by Justice J.O. Abdulmalik did not stop the council poll, but only restrained the Oyo State Independent Electoral Commission (OYSIEC) from conducting elections into newly created wards by the commission in Ibarapa East Local Government Area, following issues arising from ward delimitation.
According to a Congress timetable from the National office of the party, ward congress is slated for today (Saturday) across the country.
But the governor insisted that the council poll would be held in all the LGAs, LCDAs and wards, including the wards in Ibarapa East Local Government, saying the constitution has made it clear that no court has power over an election.
He said, “There is this speculation spreading across the state that the council poll will not hold as a result of the court judgment. The court has not stopped us from conducting the election, except in some newly created wards.
“But we are telling the court that it is in the constitution that no court has power over an election. We are telling you that the wards mentioned and those that were not mentioned, we are going to conduct election there.
“We are in touch with the aggrieved members of the party that had gone to court. I want to assure you that the election will hold across the state, even in the disputed wards.”
It would be recalled that Justice J.O Abdulmalik of a Federal High Court, sitting in Ibadan, had granted an interlocutory injunction restraining OYSIEC from conducting election into the new wards created by the commission in Ibarapa East.
The ruling was delivered in a litigation instituted by five elders from Eruwa in Ibarapa East Local Government Area in a case with number FHC/IB/ES/47/2018 against the Independent National Electoral Commission, OYSIEC, Oyo State Governor and the Attorney-General of the state.
The applicants had prayed the court for an order on interlocutory injunction restraining the defendants, their servants, agents or privies from using, relying on or employing the use of any electoral areas or wards and polling stations for the purpose of any elections in Oyo State, including local government elections, other than the electoral areas or wards and polling stations created by the INEC, pending the determination of the substantive action.
They also prayed the court to declare as illegal, null and void, the creation of the electoral areas or wards by OYSIEC in Ibarapa East council area of the state. The court has, however, adjourned the substantive suit to May 28, 2018, for hearing.
Speaking on the ward congress, Ajimobi appealed to members of APC to ensure the success of the ward congress, warning that his administration does not tolerate hooliganism and that anybody that foment trouble will be handed over to the police.
The governor, who passionately appealed to the party’s members to go back to their local government areas and wards with a view to reconciling with their people, however, charged the loyalists of the party to defend themselves peradventure some people want to attack them during the congress, saying: “If they slap you once, slap them back six times.”
He also appeals to the members to show understanding with their existing executive members who might be willing to continue in office but that if a peaceful agreement cannot be reached, “go to the field. It is not automatic to be a member of the executive.”
The rally was attended by party chieftains, members from across the 33 local governments, lawmakers, members of the state executive councils and all relevant stakeholders.
Credit: The Nation