Lone PDP Kwara Assembly member-elect hangs in limbo
Plenary activities of the Kwara State House of Assembly were disrupted a fortnight ago over after a commotion over the refusal to inaugurate the lone Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) member-elect, Jimoh Agboola Raheem, as a member of the House.
The impasse which has expectedly generated curious reactions including legal and political tussles began after the Election Tribunal that sat following the general election had nullified the victory of the All Progressives Congress member-elect, Hassan Azeez Oluwanilo, and ordered that the INEC Certificate of Return earlier issued him be retrieved and given to Jimoh Agboola Raheem.
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But the APC was not pleased with the tribunalís decision and headed to the Court of Appeal which in December 2019 declared Agboola the winner of Ilorin South House of Assembly election and nullified the victory of Hassan Abdulazeez of the APC.
The court also ordered the cancellation of the Certificate of Return earlier given to the APC candidate, and ordered INEC to issue a fresh certificate to the PDP member-elect. It also ordered the House of Assembly to swear him in as a member.
Still displeased with the judgment of the Appeal Court, the APC again headed to the Federal High Court, but the court dismissed its petition in its entirety and Agboola's counsel went back to the Appeal Court for the enforcement of its earlier judgment so that Agboola could be sworn in.
Despite all these, his swearing in has continued to suffer setbacks as the Speaker, Hon Yakubu Danladi, was said to be unable to swear him in on the ground that there is another court challenging his victory.
Agboola and his supporters armed with the court verdict and INEC Certificate of Return had at different times approached the House for his inauguration but met stiff resistance right from the entrance of the House of Assembly complex.
Speaking to Daily Trust on Sunday on the issue, he said: "I was duly elected during the 2019 House of Assembly election to represent the people of Ilorin South at the Kwara State House of Assembly.
"The Election Tribunal that sat after the election nullified the purported victory of my APC opponent, Hassan Azeez Oluwanilo, and ordered that the Certificate of Return INEC gave him be retrieved.
"They also ordered that INEC should conduct another election within 30 days but the APC was not satisfied with that and they headed to the Court of Appeal.
"As a party, we also cross appealed. My appeal succeeded while their appeal was faulted.
"They were ordered to pay us N50,000 which they are yet to pay till today.
"The Court of Appeal ordered the cancellation of the Certificate of Return earlier given to the APC candidate and ordered INEC to issue me a fresh certificate which they complied with.
"The court also ordered the House of Assembly to swear me in, but to my surprise, when I got there they denied me entry.
"My lawyer wrote to them but they refused to receive his letter and my certificate from him.
"We sent the letter and certificate to the House through courier but it was not accepted.
"We went to the House to see if we could resolve the issue amicably but they didn't allow me to enter the House.
"When the situation was turning rowdy they were forced to come out to meet us.
"They told me and the party supporters that they had already taken the matter to a Federal High Court.
"Then we asked them if they were appealing the judgment of the Court of Appeal but all they could tell us was that they had gone to a Federal High Court and since the matter is in court they could not take any action on my matter except if the court resolves it.
"Unfortunately for them, the Federal High Court also dismissed their petition in its entirety.
"We thereafter filled enforcement of the judgment at the Court of Appeal. We want the court to enforce its judgment on them so that they could do the necessary thing they are supposed to do.
"Since the court had ruled in my favour, we thought the matter had been resolved, so when they announced that all members of the House should resume plenary after the break, I decided to go to the House for them to do the necessary thing and swear me in as a member but when I got there, again they denied me entry to the House of Assembly.
"They said they would need to confirm from the Clerk if I am a member or not.
"I asked them which other confirmation they were looking for; I am a certified member of the House with my Certificate of Return and by court pronouncements.
"As it is now they are doing impunity and breaching the rule of law. They should know that one day their tenure will expire whatever they do now will live after them.
"Some people were on that seat before, they will also leave the seat one day. I told them if they were not going to do the swearing in they should make it official and put it on paper."
Agboola said the Kwara State Commissioner of Police has waded into the matter and invited them for a meeting.
"We went there with my party chairman, the legal adviser and others but to the dismay of all they didn't attend the meeting, they only wrote a letter that the matter was in court and it's after the court that they could say anything. ďWe told the commissioner that the court ruling did not say we should stay execution, allowing a man who had long been sacked and his Certificate of Return nullified to continue to sit in the House as representative of our people is illegal and provoking. Our people are ready to protest and occupy the House of Assembly if nothing is done".
Agboola's supporters had on many occasions converged at the Assembly complex at Asadam, Ilorin to exert pressure on the House members to swear him in but were consistently resisted. The last of such was two weeks ago when the House resumed plenary. His supporters went to the Assembly complex and blocked its entrance. It took the intervention of the police to persuade them to leave.
Daily Trust on Sunday sought a reaction from the APC and chieftain of the party in the state, Alhaji Raimi Shitu, told our correspondent that the House was only obeying the law in respect of the matter.
"The matter as we speak is in court. I think Agboola should wait for the court to rule on the matter. We are a law abiding party, we respect the law. Itís the PDP that does not have respect for the law. Whatever it is our Assembly people are only acting in respect of the law, so Agboola should wait for the court to decide,"he said.
When Daily Trust on Sunday went to the House Committee chairman on Information, Ayokunle Awolola, he declined comment on the issue, saying since the matter is in court the House would not make any comment on it.
When our correspondent also contacted the Special Assistant on Media to the Kwara State House of Assembly Speaker, Salihu Yakubu Danladi, Ibrahim Sheriff said; "I don't have permission to speak on the issue, because it is still a subject of litigation".
It would be recalled that Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq had congratulated Agboola on the Appeal Court victory.
The governor in a statement from his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Rafiu Ajakaye, urged Agboola to rise above partisan politics.
"What has happened today is one of the beauties of democracy. As respecters of the rule of law and decorum, we submit to the position of their lordships and congratulate our brother from the opposition party, lessons have been learnt on all sides," the governor said. But as yet, Agboola's inauguration remains in limbo, and he along with his constituents have not spoken the last word on the subject.