PDP, APC bicker over composition of State Electoral Commission  

A couple of months ago, Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde dissolved the board of the state electoral body christened Oyo State Independent Electoral Commission (OYSIEC) with immediate effect.

Dated July 1st, the dissolution letter was addressed to the chairman of the board and noted the governor was aware the tenure of the members had not expired but the government will offset all salaries and entitlements of the members for the remaining period of the tenure.

The letter, which was signed by the Head of Service, Amidat Agboola, however directed that all the property of the commission in the custody of members be handed over to the most senior director in the commission. The development could be said to be in fulfillment of the plan to reconstitute the state electoral body with a promise to conduct local government elections latest by the first quarter of next year.

Reacting, Chairman and members of OYSIEC dragged the governor to court and joined in the multiple suits filed at the National Industrial Court sitting in Ibadan are the Attorney General of the state, the state House of Assembly and Head of Service. In seven separate suits individually filed by the Chairman and members of OYSIEC, the claimants are challenging the premature dissolution and termination of their tenure of office as Chairman and members of the Commission and are seeking 10 main reliefs including a declaration that the purported dissolution of the OYSIEC Commission and termination of the appointment of the claimants by the governor is illegal.

Last Thursday, a statement emerged from the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Taiwo Adisa, which indicated that the governor has forwarded the names of eight individuals to the House of Assembly for consideration as chairman and members of the commission. According to the letter, Isiaka Olagunju was nominated as chairman, while Adeniyi Afeez Babatunde, Ganiyat Saka, Olanrewaju Emmanuel, Kumi Agboola, Remi Ayoade, Sunday Falana and Adeojo Elias, were nominated as members.

The APC did not take the development lightly, warning Makinde against the plan to reconstitute OYSIEC. In a statement signed by the party’s Publicity Secretary, Olatunde Azeez, said it got a report the governor had forwarded names of his proposed nominees to the State House of Assembly for screening in spite of the pending suit and injunction filed by the dissolved members of the commission challenging their dissolution as illegal. “We shall on our part continue to stand as a bulwark against disobedience to the rule of law and lawlessness for which the current governor has become synonymous, rather than the legacy of a safe, law abiding and modern Oyo state which was bequeathed to him.”

In a swift reaction through its Publicity Secretary, Akeem Olatunji, the PDP said, “Being in opposition has confused them. What the Governor did is morally and constitutionally right, they flouted the law and there must be consequence, which is dissolution. They are running away from their shadow. They know people will reject them. That is why they are afraid to face the electorate. If they think they are on ground, they should not be afraid. It is not OYSIEC that will determine who will win, it’s the people.” On the court case instituted, he said, “They are only trying their luck but whatever the court says we will abide by it.”

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