Court Strikes Out Charge Against Nigeria's New Governor

Engr. Rauf Aregbesola, Osun State governor.

Engr. Rauf Aregbesola, Osun State governor.

The last chapter  of the  battle over the 2007   Governorship election in Osun state  was brought to a dramatic end Monday in Abuja as an Abuja High Court presided by Justice Mohammed Abubaker Talba struck out a forgery charge brought against the newly sworn in Governor of Osun state, Engineer Rauf Aregbesola of the Action Congress of Nigeria by the Nigeria Police Force.
Engr. Rauf Aregbesola, Osun State governor.

Aregbesola had been standing trial over a forgery allegation brought against him by the Inspector General of Police at the instance of the Peoples Democratic Party which alleged that the police report, with which Aregbesola challenged the election of deposed former governor Olagunsoye Onyinlola, was forged by the Action Congress of Nigeria candidate.

The striking out of the charge was predicated upon an application brought before the court at today’s proceedings by Governor Aregbesola’s lawyers led by Mr. Kunle Adegoke wherein he drew the court’s attention to the fact that the Court of Appeal, Ibadan Division, had made pronouncements on the subject matter of the charge against him and had vindicated him by declaring him the Governor of the Osun state. The lawyer therefore applied that the charge against Governor Rauf Aregbesola be struck out as the Governor  now enjoys immunity as provided for in section 308 of the 1999 Constitution.

Justice Talba agreed with Governor Aregbesola’s lawyers and summarily struck out the charge of forgery slammed against the Governor by the Inspector General of Police.

Governor Aregbesola’s battle to reclaim his mandate stolen by deposed Mr. Olagunsoye Onyinlola was fraught with many hurdles and the charge which was struck out was part of the orchestration to deny him of what was freely given to him by the electorate in the state.

Soon after a new panel began sitting on Aregbesola’s petition during the legal battles that characterized the Osun state election, an absurd drama started unfolding. A document which formed part of the exhibits tendered at the Election Petition Tribunal and also at the first election appeal without the Nigerian Police and the Peoples Democratic Party raising any objection became contentious.

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The document in question is the Final Security Report prepared by the police indicating that the Osun state election was marred with irregularities and violence. It has reference number: CL234/ ‘B’DEPT/ FHQ/ VOL.29/ 113 and dated April 28th, 2007 and relates to the conduct of the 2007 gubernatorial elections in the state. It was this document that the appellate court queried the Tribunal over the non assignment of proper weight to a weighty document as that by the Tribunal.

What started as a joke soon snowballed into reality as the Nigeria Police leadership came out to disown a document that had gone through two trials before the recent fresh one without any opposition from them. The Police insisted that the document did not emanate from them and that the officers who authored the document were not even known to the Police Force. The letter head upon which the Report was submitted was also disowned by the Police.

To make true their claims, the police dragged Aregbesola to court and alleged that he forged the document. Unfortunately for the deposed former Governor, the appellate court sack him from office and ordered for the swearing in of the Action Congress of Nigeria candidate as the rightful winner of that election.

By Nnamdi Felix / Abuja

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