A Federal High Court sitting in Osogbo, Osun State has restrained the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from using Rufus Oluwatooyin Akeju as the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) of the state. The court further directed INEC directed INEC to immediately appoint another REC for the state.
The State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had dragged INEC and Mr Akeju before the court citing allegations of bias against Mr Akeju and describing him as a “sympathiser” of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). Mr Akeju hails from Lagos State and is believed to have been nominated for the post by the Lagos State government.
Presiding judge, Babs Kuewumi in his ruling restrained Mr Akeju from conducting the election in Osun State and also restrained INEC from using him in the state as the REC in the coming elections.
The PDP while citing Section 14 (3) of the 3rd Schedule to the 1999 constitution sought for a declaration that Mr Akeju cannot impartially conduct or supervise the conduct of a credible election in Osun state in April 2011.
In an originating summons deposed to by the state PDP counsel, Kayode Adesiyan, the party explained that based on the allegation of bias levelled against Mr Akeju, the court should order INEC to transfer him from Osun State to any other state in Nigeria to conduct or supervise the conduct of the April 2011 general elections and appoint a new REC for Osun State.
The party also asked for an order of perpetual injunction restraining the 2nd defendant (Akeju) from conducting or supervising in any manner whatsoever the conduct of elections into various political positions in April 2011 in Osun State.
The state PDP further urged the court to grant, “An order of injunction directing the 1st Defendant (INEC) to appoint forthwith or transfer a new Resident Electoral Commissioner to conduct or supervise the conduct of April 2011 elections in Osun state”.
In a 28-paragraphs affidavit in support of the originating summons which was deposed to by a member of the Elder Caucus of the PDP in Osun state, Raphael Ayotunde Towobola, he alleged among other things that prior to the appointment of Mr Akeju as the REC, he had lived and worked in Lagos State as a Special Assistant in the government of former Governor of Lagos State, Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
He explained that by virtue of his former position, he was under the strong influence of Mr Tinubu, a leader and chieftain of ACN, a political party which is presently governing Osun State and that he cannot claim to be non partisan.
Mr Towobola cited an instance where a member of the ACN in Atakunmosa-East Local Government during the last registration exercise seized and broke the Direct Data Capturing Machine and he was promptly arrested by the police but instead of Akeju to ensure the prosecution of the culprit, he swiftly “directed the police to release the criminal.”
Presiding judge, Mr Kuewumi adjourned the matter till 6th of April, 2011.