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Of Dapo Abiodun, Betta Edu And A Stolen Mandate By Johnson Sodunke



Dapo Abiodun and Betta Edu

Unluckily, the Governor of Ogun State, Dapo Abiodun no doubt will have been a lavished beneficiary of praises and congratulatory messages from many sycophants, most of whom have whispered behind him in doubt about his capabilities to sustain the legal battle this far.

Shortly after the split decision of the Court of Appeal on the March 18, 2023, Ogun State Governorship election petition around November 2023, I made some attempts to capture the mood of the people of Ogun State, their disappointment and a forlorn hope hanging on a single thread of the dissenting judgement of the lone but clear voice of a woman of conscience whose unmistakable tone was more detailed and carefully executed even more than the Lead judgement.

I was writing something on “Dapo Abiodun and his Band of ‘Thieves’ until I was caught up with other matters of state. I used the word “thieves” figuratively here in the same manner people try to purify, deify, and justify Robin of Sherwood, “the man who robs the rich to pay the poor.”

By the long or short stretch of the imagination, whatever or however the proceeds of a crime (stealing) are applied afterwards, it does not change the original and lexical meaning of the word in the first act. Every other sanctimonious or celestial description of a “Crime” cannot, in all senses, purify it, even if it were expended or lavished on charity.

The Governor of Ogun State, Dapo Abiodun no doubt will have been a lavished beneficiary of praises and congratulatory messages from many sycophants, most of whom have whispered behind him in doubt about his capabilities to sustain the legal battle this far. More than 80% of the people he gave appointments to—the ones he called aides and those in expectation—have expressed their doubts about his ability to win against all odds because they “know” for a fact, and they confessed this serially while the court processes were ongoing—that the elections were stolen, rigged, and manipulated. They attest to the overwhelming evidence, which they are convinced is sufficient enough to send Dapo Abiodun packing.

But as they see Dapo Abiodun navigating and manipulating his way through the judicial process, the same people who have serially expressed doubts about the Ogun State Governor became sycophantic cheerleaders; they are the first to post on Facebook and WhatsApp group platforms and their major audience was Mr. Dapo Abiodun in hope of some gratification.

A few weeks after, I stumbled on this on a WhatsApp platform and I felt this encapsulated the whole essence of my thoughts about the legal battles for the original winner to reclaim his victory at the court. I reproduced this with some minor edits:

“Ogun State appears to be in suspended animation with everyone moving with bated breadth about what the next line of action is. There are so many expectations on all sides about what they consider should be the outcome of the Supreme Court Judgement in a matter of two weeks from now. I am not a lawyer, but an informed but conscientious objector. I am still trying to come to terms with what the foundation of our Justice system is all about; whether it is about the fact (Justice) or about the process (some legal gymnastics or a barbaric gyration in a grotesque corner or logic).

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I am still at a loss what legal jurisprudence will overlook these and sit only on who should present what and when should it be presented, especially when no party has come to disown the material facts, nor the Producer (or Custodian-INEC) has disowned it, and most importantly, if and when the documents were generated through an order of the the same Tribunal or Court. Why send people on a wild goose chase when you are not even going to look at what you send them to bring? “Arodan” might appear to us as a form of entertainment when we were young, but looking critically at the motive, it proves to be an unfair and unjust venture sending a child here and there.

If this is the pedestal upon which our Justice system was founded, then we are a nation of Jokers, we seem to have taken entertainment beyond the limit. When two people are fighting over an object, elders will say “Bring the item and let us see”. Why won’t the judges see what they ordered be produced? Not looking at it is like holding one person’s hand in a duel for the other person.

Whatever the outcome of the SC, it is not morally right for those who stole votes to celebrate… The fact is that a “thief” will always remain a “thief” whether it is “afowora”, “gbewiri” “ofon”, “jaguda”. It is akin to a thief holding a party after an expedition of robbery; it does not remove from their ‘thiefry’ and a lawyer celebrating his legal prowess of getting an Anini, Monday Osunbo, or Oyenusi out of the gallow.”

I cannot agree less with the writer because it cannot be morally right for Mr. Dapo Abiodun nor any of his aides or supporters to even celebrate their pyrrhic victories so far because none of the courts have absolved him of votes “stealing” if they have any iota of shame because they have only hidden under some technicalities and legalese.

Like I said earlier, the dissenting judgement which sacked Mr. Abiodun is very instructive; it opened a new vista of hope for the people of Ogun State who voted out the incumbent and made their choice on March 18. It is instructive that a Woman came to Justice, chose to do and stood by what which is right by extricating herself from the mental incarceration and prison of technicalities to pronounce the verdict that the Ogun State people are yearning to hear.

How and why do you discount evidence that you ordered to be produced; witness or not, when evidence can speak for itself it should be given due recognition, so the woman Justice pronounced, and it sounds good in our ears, it gladens our hearts also.

Johnson Sodunke is a public commentator, and he writes from Ado-Odo/Ota.

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