As the ruling Action Congress of Nigeria tests its strength against the Peoples Democratic Party and the Peoples Party of Nigeria in Saturday’s (today) local government council election in Ogun, the situation in the state remains tense.
The long-running saga of disqualification of candidates of the opposition parties by the Ogun State Independent Electoral Commission, 24 hours to the election has continued to generate tension and controversy.
While the ruling ACN will field chairmanship candidates in all the 20 LGs in the poll, 19 from PDP and 14 PPN candidates are expected to slug it out with the others during the election.
Also, 569 councillors from 14 political parties will contest the poll.
However, as at Friday night, noneof those contesting, especially under the umbrellas of the opposition parties, was sure that their name would remain on the list of their parties.
An Ogun State High Court sitting in Ayetoro, Yewa North, on Thursday, had ordered OGSIEC not to exclude the PPN chairmanship candidate in Imeko-Afon LG, Chief Dende Abiola, from today’s election.
On the same day, another state High Court sitting in Ilaro, Yewa South, reserved ruling in a fresh contempt charge brought against the members of the Chief Ireti Oniyide-led Caretaker Committee of the Ogun PDP and members of OGSIEC till next Thursday.
While ruling on an ex-parte motion filed by the claimants counsel, Dr. Yemi Oke, the presiding judge, Justice O.A. Asenuga of the State High Court in Ayetoro, restrained OGSIEC from issuing a certificate of return or otherwise recognising any other person as elected chairman of Imeko-Afon LG.
OGSIEC had excluded Abiola and 32 councillorship candidates of the PPN as well as other candidates of some opposition parties in the provisional list published by the commission last Sunday.
Following the publication, the PPN sought redress in court to compel OGSIEC to respect democratic norms.
The PDP Zonal Publicity Secretary, Kayode Babade, in a statement made available to reporters in Abeokuta, condemned OGSIEC for disqualifying opposition candidates that had already been screened and cleared.
The South-West PDP also cautioned the state government against alleged manipulation of Saturday’s poll. Babade alleged that the state government planned to subvert the will of the electorate by withholding results of the elections at the polling units against what the law stipulated.
However, OGSIEC said the candidates on the list submitted by the Oniyide-led caretaker committee had been screened and cleared by the commission for the poll.
The commission’s position is, however, in defiance of the recent ruling of a State High Court sitting in Ilaro, which ordered that only the state Executive Committee of the Ogun PDP led by Chief Bayo Dayo had the vested authority to nominate and submit the list of candidates for the election.