The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said there is no going back on the date for the Ondo state governorship election that has been scheduled for November 26, 2016.
The INEC’s Director for Elections Monitoring, Mr Bala Shittu, gave the assurance at a conference with elections observer groups in Abuja.
According to him, INEC is ready for the conduct of the elections as scheduled even though it has one final stakeholders meeting in Akure, the Ondo state capital on Tuesday, Nov 22.
He also stated that the electoral body has done risk assessment for the state and has related its finding to security agents for proper security during the polls.
Talks and calls by party supporters from Jegedes faction for a possible postponement by INEC became heightened last Friday after the Court of Appeal adjourned judgment in the PDP governorship candidacy tussle indefinitely.
The Court had fixed Friday, November 18, 2016 to deliver judgment in respect of an appeal filed by Eyitayo Jegede against the decision of Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court Abuja which ordered INEC to replace his name with that of Barrister Jimoh Ibrahim which had been complied with by the electoral body.
The judgment was put off by Justice Ibrahim Saulawa following a motion filed at the Supreme Court by the Senator Ali Modu Sheriff led-faction of the PDP asking the Appeal Court panel to hands off the matter.
In the motion, factional chairman of the party in Ondo state, Prince Biyi Boroye, accused the three-man panel of bias and prayed the Supreme Court to restrain the judges from further proceedings in the appeals.
The motion served in the panel about 7:30PM on Thursday night alleged that the three judges had betrayed their oath of office with the way the appeals were been handled and that they have refused to be bound by their own earlier orders.
INEC has been at the centre of the PDP crisis since its decision to recognise a factional candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the election, Mr Jimoh Ibrahim having based its
decision on the ruling of Justice Abang of a Federal High Court in Abuja which recognised the Ali Modu-Sheriff faction of the party as the authentic one.
Justice Abang had ordered to reinforce a verdict which his court earlier gave on June 29, recognizing the Senator Ali Modu Sheriff faction of the PDP and directed INEC to only deal with the faction instead of the Markafi group.
Since the release of INEC’s list of recognised candidates for the election, the Makarfi group, to which the Ondo state Governor, Olusegun Mimiko belongs, has been battling to have the ruling and the consequent INEC decision overruled.
Added to this is that Jegede supporters have insisted that their man remained the authentic PDP candidate in Ondo, having emerged from a well attended and INEC-recognised primary election.
They vowed to explore all legal means to reclaim the mandate and present Eyitayo Jegede as the party’s candidate in the election.
However in fulfilling their desire, a special panel of the Court of Appeal approved Mr Eyitayo Jegede’s request to appeal the judgement of the court that led to the substitution of his name with that of Mr Jimoh Ibrahim.
The panel, led by Justice Ibrahim Saulawa, said Mr Jegede had shown sufficient proof that the judgment of Justice Okon Abang recognising Senator Ali Modu Sherrif as the National Chairman of the PDP had grossly affected his rights.
The panel also dismissed an application filed by the factional chairman of the party in Ondo State, Mr Biyi Poroye, who is asking the new panel to recuse, on the ground of gross abuse of court process.
While dismissing the appeal, Justice Saulawa said that the application by Mr Poroye was borne out of mischief and deliberate calculation to frustrate the application for the leave of the court to appeal the Federal High Court’s judgment filed by Mr Jegede.
The Modu-Sheriff group reacted with accusations of bias against the Appeal Court panel and this led to the panel withdrawing from the case.
In a sharp response ,the Ali Modu Sheriff led group was quick to approach the Supreme Court where they filed a motion contesting the decision to allow Jegede appeal the Federal High Court order and this necessitated the special court of Appeal being bound legally to hands off the matter pending the upper court’s thrashing of the case,thereby adjourning its expected judgement on the matter indefinitely.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court it was reliably gathered would commence the hearing of the matter before it next Tuesday just few hours to the close of campaigns by all political parties as stipulated in the electoral law .