The Independent National Electoral Commission has expressed satisfaction with the Appeal Court ruling that sacked controversial billionaire, Jimoh Ibrahim, as the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in Saturday’s Ondo governorship election.
The Commission told PREMIUM TIMES it would comply with the ruling and that it had been vindicated on who the original candidate is.
The Appeal Court, Wednesday afternoon, ordered INEC to replace Mr. Ibrahim of the Ali Sheriff faction of the PDP with Eyitayo Jegede who belongs to the Ahmed Makarfi faction of the troubled opposition party.
The Appeal Court, having been empowered to rule on the matter by the Supreme Court on Tuesday, set aside a ruling of the Federal High Court by Justice Okon Abang which declared Mr. Ibrahim the candidate of PDP.
INEC had complied with the ruling of Mr. Abang – dismissed by the Appeal Court as “virulent attitudinal disposition to the rule of law” – and removed Mr. Jegede for Mr. Ibrahim as PDP’s flag bearer in Ondo before today’s ruling.
However, the electoral body told PREMIUM TIMES the ruling vindicated its earlier position that Mr. Jegede is the original candidate of PDP.
In a text to our correspondent, the Commission’s Director of Voters’ Education and Publicity, Oluwole Osaze-Uzzie, expressed INEC’s readiness to comply with the Appeal Court ruling, thereby re-adding Mr. Jegede as the PDP candidate.
“As we have always said, we will comply with the ruling or judgment of a superior court, said Mr. Osaze-Uzzie. “This (judgement) vindicates our earlier stand as to who d PDP candidate is.”
Mr. Jegede is backed by the incumbent Governor, Olusegun Mimiko, who had met with President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House twice over the crisis.
Mr. Jegede, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, hails from the capital of Ondo State, Akure which has never produced governor in the State.
Meanwhile, in a separate interaction with PREMIUM TIMES, an INEC insider said while the commission is ready to comply with judgement it had to be served before Friday to ensure effective changes.
Also, deputy spokesperson of the Commission, Nick Dazang, said the Commission would issue a formal statement “soon”, asking the public for patience.
Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, in a statement through his spokesperson, Uche Anichukwu, hailed the judgement as “tonic for victory”.